A Mumbai doctor has taken on the role of “son” for 500 of the city’s poor elderly citizens, delivering food to them on a daily basis free of charge for 10 years.
“Nine years ago, a couple visited me,” Dr. Uday Modi relates in the video below. “I enquired about their problems. ‘[The husband] said, ‘I have three sons. All three have left us and are living their personal lives, and we are left alone, here. There is no one to cook food, aunty is paralyzed so even she cannot cook. Even if someone gives us grains, we cannot cook. This is one of our problems.’”
Even now, years later, the memory of that fateful day remains vivid in Dr. Modi’s mind; it was that encounter which compelled him to immediately help them.
“I told him, ‘uncle, do not worry. Tiffin will come from my house.’”
The tiffin — a meal carried in a kind of lunchbox composed of a series of stacking stainless steel containers — usually consists of six chappatis and a curry with dal and rice. And a special dessert on Sundays.
India is a changing society. Its robust economic growth recently exceeded that of China, and has for decades uplifted millions of Indians from poverty. However, this growth has also come at cost.
Today in India more than 50 million of the nation’s 100 million elderly live below the poverty line.
To make matters worse, some have debilitating conditions due to malnourishment, and others are homeless with no one to look after them. While the government has a mandate to look these individuals, help is slow in coming.
Despite the numbers, however, Dr. Modi did not initially believe this was a systemic issue. Attributing their predicament to “generational gaps,” or “problems of space,” he did not realize the problem he was wading through.
“After four or five days, one tiffin was 11!. I realized the problem is not limited. Banners were put up and posters were printed reading, ‘wherever anyone needs help, come find me,’” he said.
And so, outraged at the collective suffering of India’s older population, Dr. Modi began his lifelong mission to feed India’s elderly.
“Today I will say that I have 200 parents, how lucky am I!”
Nine years later, the first tiffin quickly ballooned into 200, daily, and the number of elderly serviced by Dr. Modi and his small team has grown to around 500. Even so, despite the financial burden that he shouldered himself, Dr. Modi not only asked nothing for this service, but went even further and demanded no recognition either.
“Recently, my father passed away and I named the trust after him. But soon I realized beneficiaries might think that they are accepting favors and feel hesitant to accept this help. So I thought up the name ‘Sharavan Tiffin Service.’”
Dr. Modi’s work is a perfect example of how one person can help to make a profound difference in people’s lives, and his on-going mission reminds us every day that the depths of human compassion are limitless.