Four years ago, Moti, a golden-coloured stray dog in Nerul was blinded by two drunken men during a Ganesh Visarjan celebration. Although the dog lost his vision, today, he's healthy and happily potters around sector 19 wearing a black collar.
A large part to play in Moti's miraculous recovery can be attributed to Manoj Purbhe, a local cobbler, who has been running a shoe repair shop in Nerul for over 15 years. "I got Moti when he was a 2-month-old puppy from my area, Karave Gaon, Nerul. One day I couldn't find Moti but could hear him cry, that's when I found him in the gutter opposite the road wailing in pain," he recalls. He rushed Moti to the animal sterilization centre at Turbhe, where the vets told him that both the eyes of the stray were beyond repair because of the acid attack. Today, along with Moti, the 46-year-old takes care of 14 other stray dogs in the area, and often has to forego his meals so that he can feed the animals.
Purbhe's selfless love for animals has inspired Andrew Sabu, a resident of Nerul to start a crowdfunding campaign on the Ketoo platform to help him buy food, water, medical supplies and whatever else they may require for the dogs. "I found out about Purbhe two years ago through a close friend. At that point of time, we decided to make documentary on him, but it never materialised," says the 21-year-old. But a recent visit to the cobbler revealed his dire straits where he was not able to send money to his family back home and had to compromise on his daily needs to feed the dogs.
Purbhe who lives with his wife - also an animal lover- has two dogs at home. "Manoj does much more than just feeding the dogs. He takes care of their medical expenses, giving them proper breakfast in the mornings and meat in the evening. All the dogs are also neutered by the municipality," says Sabu, who occasionally helps the cobbler with packets of milk and biscuits for the dogs. Purbhe spends around R800 a week for their food and other expenses. "When I asked Manoj how this has been financially possible to achieve over such a long period of time he replied saying 'Kahi na kahi se toh chal jata hai'. He has taken several loans and has kept a lot of money pending in meat shops," says Sabu adding that Purbhe has been receiving support from the Muncipality and the Bhumi Jeevdaaya Samvardhan Trust, that provides free treatment for stray dogs and all kinds of injured animals in Navi Mumbai.
Although Sabu's whose original goal was to reach R35,000, he has already crossed 97,040 and hopes to collect more.
The funds, he hopes, will also Purbhe clear all his debts with the meat shops and support his family for a calculated period of six months. "Very few know of him and his deeds. For someone who has been doing this for more than a decade now, his efforts need recognition," he says.