Rahul Verma, founder of Uday Foundation talking about his son’s illness, which inspired him to start the foundation and how you can support us.

SHORT STORY BEHIND UDAY FOUNDATION


Sometimes when you are dealing with a serious problem you watch the world wandering happily by and want to either a) cry b) drown your sorrows c) say some rude words or d) all of the above, because it seems you are the only one in this sorry situation. Well, you are not. Although there will be ups and downs you will come out the other side.

In 2006 Arjunuday was born as a sibling to a healthy sister Lavanya. Tulika and Rahul Verma planned second baby to give a company to their daughter. It was a full term pregnancy without any complication.

The minute Arjunuday was born, the doctors found multiple congenital defects that shattered the dreams of the parents. They were devastated and could not understand why they were being punished in this way. They had no choice but to accept the inevitable reality and decided to give him the best possible medical care.

Perhaps this is a penalty he has to pay for being born in a third world country. Yes, when Arjunuday was only one hour old he had a price tag on his life. If parents If parents paid the price, they can have him, if not he has to go back to where he came from.

Tulika and Rahul went through phases of self-pity, denial, mutual accusations and anger towards the society, which was indifferent to their problems.

After 9 correction surgeries and 11 hospital stays , Now Arjunuday is just another child of his age but he cannot have voluntary bowel movements and require an artificial mechanism to empty his colon, a daily enema.

Today, Rahul runs foundation with the help of a dedicated team and Tulika continues her Job to support the family.

FAQ Answered by Rahul Verma, Founder, Uday Foundation


Every year, lacs of people come to New Delhi, Capital of India for various reasons, some for seeking jobs, some for education, many others for treatment from diseases. Due to absence of medical facilities, specialty hospitals & doctors in major parts of India, there is a large section of underprivileged population, who come to the capital for getting treatments either for themselves or their family members.

These groups of people seek treatments in government hospitals. Apart from various challenges they face in their struggle to get medical treatment such as long dates for various diagnostic tests & procedures, expensive medicines and other treatments, the most difficult challenge they face is to get their basic needs met in the capital city of India –food, clothing and shelter.

Without sufficient money and help, these helpless people are forced to live in open, making themselves vulnerable to attacks by seasonal diseases, bacteria and virus. This situation worsens during the harsh weather conditions, especially in chilling winters and peak summers. The only option to avoid such a situation is to make these amenities available to them.

It is here- to help them meet these basic needs and to give them dignity that we come into picture. Through my grass root non-profit organization, Uday Foundation, I have taken it as a major challenge to save these people from such unavoidable circumstances by initiating various social drives where we provide food, clothes, sanitary napkins and other items for daily requirements. .

We encourage people to contribute by making a small in-kind donation as I feel contribution towards this cause not only give them immense satisfaction but it also connects them with Indian culture where donating food, clothes & water is termed to be a very noble gesture.

Since I spent years inside and outside hospitals during the medical treatment of my son, I realized that there are a number of organizations working in the area of health but nobody was concerned about the caregivers. Due to harsh circumstances these caregivers are forced to live on footpaths away from their home and family.

I realized that apart from a good medical treatment, they also need a dignified living while treatment of their loved one continues – these include safe and hygienic place to live, meals to eat, clean drinking water etc.

My son, Arjunuday was born in 2006 with multiple birth defects. In his initial months, he was undergoing treatment at a private hospital, but later he had to be shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for advanced treatment and care. It was during my stay in hospital that I closely watched the daily struggle of caregivers. . Delhi being one of the most costly cities in India for outsiders, there is an everyday struggle for food, water and lodging. AIIMS being the country’s largest government owned hospital, has thousands of patients visiting every day, mostly in critical condition whose healthcare needs can no longer be met at a state or district level. Amidst my own struggle, I could see hundreds of people struggle for their daily needs even as their loved ones battled for their lives in intensive care units.

Since most of them are migrants with very limited funds, a new and unknown city like Delhi does not provide a stay which is economic, food that is hygienic and nutritious and other basic necessities become a luxury.
They usually have to stay for long durations; the tariffs at hotels are beyond their affordability. The Dharamshalas are usually overcrowded and available only for a shorter duration. Hence hundreds of families are forced to live outside their respective hospitals, sometimes inside metro stations, under bus stands and sometimes on pavements. This aa very common sight in Delhi and other metro cities across the country.
Lacs of poor patients and caregivers spend harsh winter or cruel summer on Delhi streets. These people remain malnourished, with lack of access to basic necessities, such as food, water and clothes. They always remain exposed to extreme weather conditions – heat or cold. They always work through extremely harsh hot afternoons without assured access to water, food and shelter. The summer heat aggravates their fragile physical condition. Failing to cope up with intense heat & cold and it’s ill-effects, number of deaths of homeless people is rising at an alarming rate.

This problem persists because in India the healthcare system is not strong enough to cater to the needs of the vast population. Health infrastructure is not update in most parts of the country and there is a lack of specialty treatments in hospitals. The ratio of doctors to patients is less; as such the burden on doctors is growing day by day. This forces most of the families to come to metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai to seek medical treatments for their loved ones.

As a society we face a lot of social problems today, but sadly we don’t have enough listeners. I feel there are a lot of people crying out for help. In our capacity, we are trying our bit to support some of them and will continue to do so.

Free food to the poor patient & caregivers living outside hospitals.

Uday Foundation is currently feeding 60,000 underprivileged patient & caregivers living outside hospitals every month.

In-kind support and dignity:

We focus more on in-kind support from our donors. We provide in kind help to these patients & caregivers by providing clothes, dry ration and dignity kits. We have a dedicated collection centre, where individuals visit to donate different kinds of materials. After segregation, our distribution vehicle visit hospitals and dharamshalas to hand over these items to patients and caregivers. On an average, currently we are able to provide approx. 40 tons of material to over 8000 – 10000 patients & caregivers every month.

Donate old newspapers to help someone eat:

Our latest initiative is Donate Old Newspaper campaign. Through this, eat; we aim to collect newspapers from donors in large numbers. The money collected after selling the newspapers are used for preparing food for caregivers and family members of poor patients. . It is a well-known fact that India has one of the highest out of pocket expenditure in the world which forces many families into poverty every year. It is to lessen the burden of the already overburdened families;Uday Foundation tries to cater to the basic need of families – food. With the meagre fund that we manage to collect, we run food donation drive twice a week outside government hospitals in Delhi. On an average, one plate of food costs ₹15, which can be earned by selling 1.5 kg of newspapers.

AAROHI (Cloth sanitary napkins made of scrap cloth waste):

Recently Uday Foundation along with Benetton India launched the initiative AAROHI, supporting menstrual healthcare facilities for women. It aims to create an environmental and social change by highlighting menstrual practices that are healthy, hygienic, environmentally sustainable, culturally responsive and empowering for women. The program also aims at educating women on issues of health and personal hygiene. It is the right of every women and girls to have access to affordable and adequate menstrual and reproductive healthcare. The initiative AAROHI has multi-pronged objectives. Though primarily, it aims at improving Healthcare and hygiene and taking a conscious step towards environment conservation.

There’s a lot of fabric scrap that is left after a piece of clothing is manufactured. And this scrap can only add to the environmental woes unless used for a better purpose. The leftover fabric is used to manufacture these sanitary napkins. By using scrap fabric waste is minimized and the resources are used to produce something new.

The sanitary napkins are manufactured using high quality soft cotton fabric. These napkins are well contoured and include layers of cloth, designed in a manner so as to allow effective absorption. They are easy to wash and dry. The high quality manufacturing ensures longevity and a single napkin may be reused up to 72 times that make it usable for at least 3 years. Considering that each pad lasts for 4-5 hours, Uday Foundation provided distributed a pack of five napkins to women and girls so they are able to use them regularly for 5 days in rotation. Till date we have handed over 15000 packs of these sanitarily napkins to underprivileged women at shelters near AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals.

Work during emergency situation and disaster:

Expanding our work we also reached out to flood victims in Uttarakhand in 2013 and Kashmir victims in 2014. With the help of our donors and volunteers, we have reached out to people residing in far off villages of Uttarakhand. During the 2013 Uttarakhand floods Uday Foundation worked to provide emergency relief materials such as food, shelter, water, sanitation and emergency supplies to the victims. Similarly, during 2014 Kashmir floods, in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir Police and various other organizations, Uday Foundation provided emergency relief material to the flood victims. We also conducted medical camps and built shelters for the victims of Jammu and Kashmir Floods, Chennai Floods, Kerala Floods, Assam and Bihar Floods.

Free Medical Health cum Activity Centre

The Uday Foundation health centre is providing free primary health care services to a population of 10 slums & villages of South Delhi including Adhchini, Bagumpur, Kalu Sarai, Katawaria Sarai, Mehrauli, Chattarpur, Khirki Village, Neb Sarai, Ber Sarai with main objective to improve the status of health among children & mothers, to arouse adequate consciousness and awareness about health and hygiene among villages and to maintain small family and increase acceptors of different methods for birth control.
Majority of the project area are the urban villages and slums of South Delhi with majority of population belonging to migrants from UP and Bihar working as daily labourers and they are not able to afford medical treatment in private clinic and going to a Govt. hospital means losing a day’s wage, naturally the maternal mortality, child mortality and morbidity, dehydration and malnutrition rate is increasing day after day in these area.
This centre also function as activity centre for slum children where we teach over 35 children between 2pm to 4pm every days.

Medical Camps

We also conduct regular health camps for homeless and underprivileged who find it difficult to reach to the hospital. These health camps has been organised in different parts of North India, our camps covering population from remote villages to provide free primary health care and medicine services. We have already held numerous free medical camps in Delhi NCR, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana.

Children Ambulance Project

Uday Foundation runs a small initiative of children ambulance, wherein we support emergency hospital transportation of sick children, also to and fro from Dharmashala nearby AIIMS to Children Cancer OPD and organise generic and specialised mobile health camps for children in far-flung slum areas of Delhi NCR.

This project was started in the memory of Late Dr. Ved Prakash Duggal, by kind donation of the ambulance by his children. During the last nine years of the journey of Uday foundation, the need was felt for our own patient transport vehicle so that we can provide emergency transport facility to the children we are supporting and also organise medical camps in interior areas.

It sometimes becomes really difficult for a child suffering from some chronic disease to travel in public transport after standing in long queues of OPD or after taking a painful chemotherapy session. So the main objective to have an ambulance was not only to carry patients during times of emergency but also facilitating them during their regular hospital visits. Also the hospital compound has such a big area that moving from the OPD building to the main road is quite a distance for a sick child.

Emergency Patient transportation: Since Uday Foundation supports several children in their medical needs, it also provides them ambulance service in emergencies. We also have a tie-up with various night shelters, orphanages and patient’s dharamshalas which directly contact us incase of an emergency.

Routine Transportation of Children with cancer : Every Monday and Wednesday, our ambulance pick and drop children undergoing medical treatment for cancer at BR Ambedkar Cancer Institute in AIIMS to nearby dharamshalas, shelters & metro station, so that they do not have to walk on their little feet after an exhausting session of chemotherapy.

Free Medical Camps of Children:

With the help of our team of dedicated medical staff and volunteers we conduct free medical camps for children in various slums of Delhi NCR. Our ambulance is used as medical mobile clinic, to dispense medicines and conduct various check-ups. The community outreach programmes are undertaken by conducting health awareness campaigns to make children aware about their role in the prevention of several diseases and maintaining a healthy childhood.

Institutional tie-ups:

Principally, we prefer to work with in-kind donation as I strongly feel that participation of the donor is equally important and it also saves our time and resources in procurement. Today Benetton India is of our largest corporate donor and provides over 50K pairs of new shoes, 1 Lac new clothes and accessories per year. NDTV has been our media partner for the last 5 years and they support our winter drive for patients and caregivers and other homeless people who are forced to live in open in the absence of basic facilities. There are many other corporates, schools, institutions, RWAs and colleges who regularly conduct in-kind collection drive for us.

Thrice a week, we ferry children undergoing treatment in various hospitals to children’s park and other fun places and help them participate in games or organize storytelling sessions for them. Our volunteers from retired government officials to corporate CEOs to movie and sports stars have actively participated in our work with the sole motive of bringing smiles to the little faces suffering in hospitals.

With the help of donors, the foundation also provides medical help to critically ill children. A unique program, storytelling on wheels is a unique initiative for engaging with children in hospitals. Uday Foundation volunteers visit different hospitals regularly and narrate stories to the sick children.

I got married to Tulika in 1998, by then we already knew each other for the last 5 years. We were batch mates in Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. One thing that was common to both of us was our personal tragedies. Tulika had already lost her 2 brothers and father in a short span of 2 years (1992-94) and she lost her mother a few days prior to our wedding. I had a very disturbed childhood as I lost my mother at a young age of 5.
Our marriage bought new hopes into our lives. We were soon blessed with a baby girl, Lavanya in the year 2000. It seemed as if life was turning back to normal. We planned or second baby.It was a full term pregnancy without any complication. The minutes our second child Arjunuday was born, doctors informed us about the multiple congenital defects that he was suffering from. We knew from that very moment that life will not be normal again for us. The struggle had just begun. We had no choice but to accept the inevitable reality and decided to give him the best possible medical care.

Perhaps this is a penalty a little baby has to pay for being born in a third world country. When my son Arjunuday was only one hour old he had a price tag on his life. If parents paid the price, they can have him in their life, if not, he had to go back to where he came from.

We were completely unaware that life will entirely change forever with the birth of Arjunyday. A tiny baby, whom we waited for 9 months was undergoing surgery T just 8 hours after his birth. Arjunuday’s food pipe and rectum were not developed.
I clearly remember my wife’s face when she handed over our little child to the nurse in operation theatre . She kissed him and looked at Doctor’s face with an expression that she is handing over her most precious possession to him but with the total confidence that he will come back to us healthy and hearty. That day It was a different sort of love triangle between father, mother and doctor with little baby at the centre.

There are many heart rendering experiences but I’ll just narrate one here. Arjunuday was 9 months old and surrounded by tubes all around his tiny body. In one of our stay in hospital, a doctor came to our room and gave us shocking news that our son will remain of colostomy (a process where doctors make a hole in stomach, and pull out intestine where stool can be passed) for his entire life as it was impossible to conduct another surgery on him which may be too dangerous to his life. I cannot describe the trauma that I and my wife were going through. We were even thinking of ending our lives at that moment till a God send messenger entered our room in hospital. A nurse seeing us in that traumatic state held our hand, narrated similar stories of children who are doing very well in their lives. Her words gave new lease of life to us. I am happy to say that till date we are in touch with her. Sometime back she left to settle in the Gulf but before leaving the nurse visited our home and told my wife that all the positive stories she narrated to my wife in hospital were fictional and she never came across similar case just like our son. It was just created to give us strength.

Over the years, we also went through phases of self-pity, denial, mutual accusations and anger towards the society, which was entirely indifferent to our problems. After 9 correction surgeries and 11 months of stay in hospital, today our son Arjunuday is just another child of his age. His problem is not visible from outside. He cannot have voluntary bowel movements and requires an artificial mechanism to empty his colon, a daily enema. He regularly misses his school due to his few congenital illnesses. The teachers at school are not very sensitive towards medical issues of children which leads to some or the other uncomfortable incidents at times. Amidst all this, our life is moving forward.

During hospital days, I came to know of various heart rending stories of underprivileged patients and their struggles. I decided to end my corporate career of 10 years with work experience in Citibank DSA, Birla Sunlife and Entremonde to give full time to our son and Uday Foundation.

I founded Uday Foundation on the first birthday of my son, the journey which started from small ten feet by twelve feet rented office has now expanded to 2 centers in Delhi. It was also not an easy task for us to run the foundation and we struggled at every front for years. There was hardly any donation and trust of the people around us what they gave is sympathy but never dignity. We struggled day and night; we were not looking for donations but we wanted people to understand the plight of people like us. At one point in time, I faced so much of financial difficulties that I closed our foundation’s office and started working from home.

Then came the interesting turn, I received a call from CFO of a leading organization who was willing to support our foundation. The gentleman promised us a fixed amount every month which may sound too small by today’s standards but till date he continues to support us. Even today we have very limited financial donors but thousands of people support us with in-kind help. I do not have any source of income and never took any salary from the foundation. My wife is working as Under Secretary in NCERT. We still live in a government accommodation, our son goes to AIIMS OPD at regular intervals, and we continue to search the purpose of life.

Stories of Impact | How your help is reaching to the most needy.

Food Drive Outside Hospitals

Uday Foundation serve free, but wholesome, food to families of underprivileged patients in the Govt. Hospital and also for the children who come from a far-off places to the Delhi hospitals for often longer treatments.

Winter Drive For Homeless

Every winter, Uday Foundation runs Blanket Donation Campaign, where we provide high quality warm blankets along with dry ration and dignity kits to the underprivileged living in the open on the streets.

Stories of Impact | How your help reached to the victims of natural disasters.

Uttarakhand Floods

In June 2013, Uttarakhand faced devastating floods, which was India’s worst natural disaster since a decade. Uday Foundation SOS response teams reached the remote flood affected areas with essential help. We still continue to work in Uttarakhand with various charity programs.

Kashmir Floods

In 2014, Kashmir was hit by devastating floods that shook the entire nation. Uday Foundation was among few organizations to start emergency relief work with in few hours. We continue to work in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir with the help of Armed Forces.