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Gadkari inaugurates care centres for cancer-hit children

Three dilapidated buildings of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) on a 1.2 acre plot, transformed into a cheerful haven within a year for children undergoing cancer treatment and were inaugurated by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

“This is the happiest moment for me to inaugurate the child care centres. Within a year, these three neglected buildings and the property are converted into a safe, clean and cheerful haven for children who are under treatment for diseases like cancer,” Gadkari remarked.

The project, Child Care Centre of Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, was thrown open as a CSR project of MbPT, which was implemented by NGO St. Jude India ChildCare Centres, at Cotton Green in south Mumbai.

In 2015, MbPT had signed an agreement with TMCH and provided its three disused buildings for housing the children, who were forced to find alternate accommodation that were not suitable for economical and security reasons.

They invited St. Jude ChildCare Centres, an NGO which operates similar homes for such children since 2006, to implement the CSR project.

The now-transformed three buildings house 14 centres to accommodate 165 families, besides a residential floor for doctors.

“This will be a boon to families that travel from the remotest corners of India for cancer treatment for their children, but face major problems of safe and economical accommodation in Mumbai. As a result the children, aged mostly between six months to 15 years, succumb to infections or parents abandon their treatment,” said St. Jude India’s CEO Usha Banerji.

The NGO provides its accommodation to such families and their cancer-afflicted kids free of cost, along with local transportation, water, nutrition, educational, recreation and psycho-social support.

Veteran Bollywood actor Nana Patekar, who was present and supported the initiative, went around with Gadkari to tour the new facilities and interacted with the child-patients who welcomed them with a song specially composed for the occasion.

Banerji said that the project became a reality with support from philanthropists, trusts and corporates and this would help St. Jude to cater to around 40 per cent of the accommodation needs of children currently undergoing cancer treatment in Mumbai.

“These children hail from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam and their parents are farmers, labourers, shopkeepers, etc. earning barely Rs 600 to Rs 3,000 per month,” she said.

With this St. Jude India now runs 33 centres with 414 family units in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Jaipur.

It aims to create around 1,000 family units across India to ensure that no cancer-afflicted child suffers due to lack of support, Banerji added.