Bombay City Red Cross had received an appeal from the superintendent of the male unit of the Beggars home at Chembur for a financial donation to purchase medicines, as the institution is currently facing a critical shortage of financial resources.

As the Beggars home is a government institution supported by the Women & Child Development Department of the Maharashtra Government, initially it was felt why Red Cross should help a government organization, which is the responsibility of the government. However, Mr. Sunil banker Disaster Management officer at the Red Cross who stays in the vicinity of the Beggars Home , urged that the home was doing good work in this area and we should come and see for ourselves and if satisfied render some help. So, the Chairperson of the Funds Committee called for the list of medicines required and based on the list obtained quotations from wholesale drug suppliers and placed an order for the purchase of the required medicines- the total cost of which has come to Rs. 12661/-. It was then decided to the home and makes a firsthand evaluation of the working of this programme. Accompanied by Sunil Bankar, Neeta Gidwani and Ms. Batliwalla visited the home on April 2, 2009.

Here a word on the institution, might be in order. Beggars Home was setup in 1960 following the passage of the Bombay prevention of the Begging Act of 1959. The institution has a capacity of 550 inmates were present in the institution. The beggars squad attached to Azad Maidan police station round up beggars from different parts of the city. They are then produced before the Magistrate Court after which they are kept on remand for a period of 7 days at the said institution. The aim of the institution is a laudable, one to eradicate begging from our society by providing psychological care through social reform.

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The institution has extensive grounds in the region of 45 acres. Men and women are housed separately. Inmates are categorized according to their health condition. Able bodied inmates are made to do work like cleaning the wards, cooking, hair cutting and laundry etc. The male section has four trained employees- Shri. G.K. Arwel is the supretendant who appeared to be trained social worker committed to his job Dr. Sangale is the resident doctor and Mrs. Mayekar is the sister. Several volunteers from the near by Tata School of Social Services and from the Sai Baba Trust pay regular visits and through interaction with the beggars help in empowering and reforming them.

Overall, It is a well managed programme. We were however given to understand that owing to inflation and technical logons, the flow of essential medicines needed for recovery were not available at the Government Medical Depot. This at times delays recovery. Incidentally women inmates arfe housed in a different area of the grounds.

Some of them have been living there for the last 20 to 25 years aged, handicapped, decrepit, their condition is pitiable for they have nothing to live for. This institution is their only hope & support. The undersigned is of the view that Red Cross being a humanitarian organization should make a beginning in helping even, if it is in a small way, to supplement the efforts of the government to undertake social reform. In fact it was encouraging that several NGOs and hoteliers in the neighborhood provide food and other essential services by lending a hand in the running of the Home. Red Cross too has made a beginning let us through small gestures of this nature supplement government efforts at social reform. We understand they require some medicines for the Women ward. We could if approved consider providing them.

- Dr. (Ms.) C. J. Batliwalla

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