When 16-year-old Devarat Jatia visited the Gadge Maharaj Dharamshala for cancer patients in Dadar, he walked past a garage where children were sitting on the floor and studying.
“The 23x12 sq ft room, meant to park an ambulance, had gaps in the roof. The walls had fungus, the cupboards were broken and the blackboard had missing patches. Rats were scurrying around,” said the Class 11 student of BD Somani School.
“But the smile on their faces showed how much they valued those two hours that they were getting to study,” he said. In monsoon, Jatia realised, water logging would make it impossible for the children to study.
The children, aged between four to 16 years, were family members of cancer patients who had come from neighbouring villages to undergo subsidised treatment at the Tata Hospital.
Some of them were patients too. The school called Hamari Pathshala is run by VCare Foundation, a voluntary group that works for cancer patients.
With commercial artist Payal Juthani (30), Jatia approached the Dharamshala Trust two months ago to renovate the garage. Once approved, they began collecting the funds.
“We needed Rs 2.50 lakh to break down the structure and build a new one,” said Jatia. They petitioned friends, family, and colleagues for donations.
MP Priya Dutt inaugurated the school on Wednesday. “The work done by Jatia and Juthani shows how much youngsters can do,” she said.