It’s ironic that India that is known for legendary figures like Shravan Kumar in the epic, Ramayana, also has people who abandon their parents on the streets or who themselves come and drop off their old parents at shelters just so that they can get rid of them. I bring such people in so that they can live a life of dignity, once again,” says Ravi Kalra of the Earth Saviours Foundation in Gurugram, who has been rescuing the old, helpless and abandoned since over a dozen years.
He says that he has rescued some of them when they have insects and maggots crawling out of their wounds. But that doesn’t deter him or put him off. Instead, he cleans them and has them treated. “We bring in everyone who needs help, irrespective of their caste or creed,” he adds.
Later, once cured, the inmates of his old people’s home call him Babuji, Beta or Bapuji, he reveals. He admits that he could never have done it alone and is grateful to the immense support and donations from benevolent thinkers in society. Treatment and hospitalisation costs for the elderly are high, but somehow, money is raised and all bills are paid. It isn’t easy or cheap to run a shelter for the elderly where at least 500 people stay. He says that expenses are almost Rs 6 lakh a week.
He wants to scale up his present facility which can presently house 500 elderly to at least 3,500.
Why does he do it?
The answer is easy to find in almost all of his interviews. “These are our parents,” he says simply. That’s reason enough for wanting to help them lead a life of dignity by rehabilitating them in facilities where they are ensured food and shelter. It also gives them a feeling of security that someone cares for them.
It was back in 2007 that Ravi Kalra first came across a poor child and a stray dog foraging for food from the same garbage dump. Something snapped inside him and he realized that he had to take action to help the underprivileged. Ever since, he has dedicated his life to serving the poor and the needy.
He set up the Earth Saviours Foundation in Gurugram in 2008, and ever since, he has been rescuing abandoned parents from NCR’s callous streets. There are several of them who now live permanently in his shelter homes.
He realized that it wasn’t just the poor who ended up living on the streets. Sometimes, they were the privileged and educated class who had fallen on hard times because their children turned out to be ungrateful wretches. He has found abandoned army men, retired judges and lawyers, NRIs and educationists living in the most miserable conditions. Once he rescued a woman who had been locked up in a bathroom for five years by her son as he wanted the property papers prepared in his name and had held her captive till she agreed to do that.
Whatever be the circumstances, Kalra rescues and rehabilitates such people, giving them hope, food and shelter, and much-needed treatment.
Ravi Kalra’s father was a cop and he grew up in a tough environment. He himself was a fourth level Black Belt in taekwondo and was leading an active life touring different countries for tournaments and coaching, when his life took a dramatic turn in 2007.
He is also a deeply religious man and often stops by at cremation sites performing the last rites of badly mutilated, unclaimed dead bodies whom the police has not been able to identify. At least this way the dead and their old parents will get peace and closure believes Ravi.
(Sources: Earth Saviours website and ketto.org)