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Friends forever

Good Samaritan as his mother-in-law Annabel Mehta tells us, Sachin takes his responsibilities very seriously. Recently, Tendulkar donated the Rs 12 lakh he got from a charity coaching auction on ebay to a charity, writes Deepti Patwardhan.

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2009 02:52 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

The smallest hint of Sachin Tendulkar’s presence at a given place on a given day is enough to guarantee a huge turnout. But that wasn’t the case, six years ago, when he arrived at a function for a Mumbai-based NGO, Apnalaya.

“In 2003, we launched our sports programme and Sachin was invited to be chief guest,” said Leena Joshi, Apnalaya director. “No one believed that he would come. So the number of people who turned up for the event was a lot less than we anticipated.”

It was a thing of disbelief for the people of Shivaji Nagar, in the Mumbai suburb of Govandi. More than six lakh of them are housed on a small area around the dumping ground. They live in conditions where even basic needs are a struggle. Their world is far removed from the world Tendulkar lives in.

Over the years, he has contributed to making their lives easier. The cricketer has been associated with Apnalaya — meaning Our Home — since 1994. He came to know about the organisation, which operates in a number of less-privileged areas in Mumbai, through mother-in-law Annabel Mehta. Apnalaya was established in 1973, the same year that Tendulkar was born.

“Sachin’s dad was a teacher. That’s why he was really keen on doing something for the education of children, so he started with sponsorships,” said Mehta, who has been with Apnalaya for 35 years. “He donates money to the charity every year and even gives the money he makes from auctions or interviews to it. He supports us financially and morally. I am sure he would like to do a lot more with Apnalaya but it is not always possible.” His celebrity status takes care of that.

Though Tendulkar is by far the most popular cricketer in the country, neither party has sought to leverage publicity from the association. “It’s just the kind person he is,” adds Mehta. “He doesn’t like to speak about it. Though people have told us that we have got such a great brand ambassador, we are uncomfortable about using his name.”

Recently, Tendulkar donated the Rs 12 lakh he got from a charity coaching auction on ebay to the charity. Two people tied for the winning bid of Rs 6 lakh, and the batsman agreed to do personal clinics for both, with the proceeds going to Apnalaya.

With the publicity, the Apnalaya communities are more aware of their association with the superstar. “That’s why we haven’t called him for a function now,” says Joshi. “Because now that everyone knows, we are going to get so many people coming in that we won’t be able to manage it!”

(For more on Apnalaya’s work or to contribute to the cause, please visit www.apnalaya.org)