While not many people would find much value in the content of old newspapers, for the Dhanvantri Medical Trust (DMT), old news is good news. For six months now, medical professionals and students of the trust have been spending their weekends collecting old newspapers from corporate offices and homes, selling them and using the money for treatment of child cancer patients.
Of the total number of cancer patients in the city, five per cent are paediatric. Most of these patients come from out of state, and their treatment lasts between one to two years. In order to provide money to needy patients, the eight-year-old trust decided to take up the newspaper collection project called ‘Crafting Smile’. The project is two years old.
The president of the trust
Dr Amol Naikwadi and his colleagues Dr Dhanaji Bagal and Dr Snehalata Bagal came up with the unique idea of collecting old newspapers, selling them and using the money for the treatment of the paediatric cancer patients of Tata memorial hospital. Around 20 to 25 doctors of Dhanvantri Medical Trust along with students visit areas like Lalbaug, Dadar, Sewree, Airoli, Bandra, Chembur and Kharghar to collect the old newspapers from different housing societies. Currently, there are 500 families and four corporate offices in the city that help the trust by giving old newspapers.
Naikwadi said, “When we saw that the number of cancer patients are increasing in the city, we found that most of the families coming from outskirts don’t have money for their child’s cancer treatment. So, we decided to start this unique way of collecting funds.” However, Naikwadi added that not all people are keen on the DMT’s cause. “We face a lot of humiliation in some societies. We roam from one society to another like salesmen. But, there are some people who understand our cause and help us.”
Echoing the sentiments of Naikwadi, Bagal, DMT trustee, said, “Naikwadi’s father always dreamt of having a trust to help needy people and now he has finally succeeded. There are many working people as well as college students who help us collect old newspapers. The money is used in making
medicines available for cancer-affected kids, for their birthday celebrations and also to provide families with food grains.” Bagal also added that they receive more newspapers from households than from corporate offices. “Society members also mail us and inform that they have gathered the old newspapers for us and that’s how we go to collect them,” he said.
Dr Namrata Shikhare, another DMT volunteer, said, “We don’t go only to corporate offices, but also societies to collect old newspapers. After collecting them we sell them and spend the money on the children suffering from cancer in Tata hospital.”
500 families and four corporate offices regularly give their old newspapers to the trust