The Umeed Cancer Care Centre has its beginnings in the days when the Marthoma School Maharashtra which was started by the Parish was well-established and the medical and Balwadi Projects at Shivaji Nagar were progressing well, and it was realized that there was not much scope for further expanding the work at Shivaji Nagar. That was when the parish started searching for a new project which would greatly benefit the people around us.

It was felt that in a city like Mumbai, one needs to keep changing with time, and newer need areas need to be identified and addressed. Also, it was imperative that whatever project we start has to be self-supporting and run on its own strength after a period of time.

While many projects came up for consideration, the most urgent need was felt in the area of providing support to the outstation Cancer Patients and their families. The focus of the Cancer Care Centre Project is to provide residential accommodation, free food and conveyance from the Hospital to the centre for patients and their relatives. These patients need intermittent treatment and they are required to stay back in the city for observation, during the maintenance period so that immediate treatment can be given in case of any complication.

It is a sad fact that, as cancer cases are increasing, only serious patients are admitted and treated in the Hospital and others are treated as Out Patients. These Out Patients have to find their own accommodation while they are undergoing treatment which may span over many months.

Since many hospitals in the country do not have sufficient facilities for treating serious patients, all such patients from all over India are referred to Mumbai. Most of them are from very poor backgrounds and have no friend, relative or acquaintance in the city and a majority of them do not have any means to meet the expense of the treatment let alone for their extended stay in the city.

With no option left, such OPD patients accommodate themselves on the footpaths around Tata Memorial Hospital for months together. The Municipal Corporation periodically drives away these patients who reside on the footpaths. Due to the pressing need, this is an area where the Hospital authorities and social workers encourage NGOs to lend their helping hands.

After identifying the project of starting a Cancer Care Centre, we approached Tata Hospital and expressed our willingness to work with them. We named the centre as Umeed Foundation. Since the Hospital does not deal with religious institutions, the Marthoma Welfare Society, a registered body with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai of Marthoma Syrian Church, Chembur, was registered as an NGO with them.

By this time, we identified and purchased a house of about 600 sq. ft. having ground + first floor at Paylipada, Trombay. The ground floor was developed as a reception-cum-residence for the house parents. The first floor was developed into four small rooms to accommodate four patients and their relatives. We have added one more floor to make the common kitchen and recreation area. Tata Hospital authorities inspected the place and approved the centre.

Umeed Foundation was inaugurated by Rt. Rev. Joseph Mar Barnabas Tirumeni. Rev. Philip George was the Vicar at the time of purchase of this house and Rev. A T Thomas was the Vicar during the inauguration.

Admission and discharge of patients are managed by the medical social worker dept. of Tata Memorial Hospital. The first patient was admitted on 8th April 2009.

Bhayyalal Naik and family
The House Parents Mr. Bhayyalal Naik and his wife Usha along with their daughter.

Currently, the day-to-day running of the centre is managed by the house parents – Mr. Bhayyalal Naik and Mrs. Usha Bhayyalal Naik who stay at the centre.

We provide free accommodation, a common kitchen with gas connection, all the utensils and provisions to the patients family, for cooking their own food. Since the patients come from different parts of India and as food habits are different, the centre does not manage the cooking of the food.
So far, 92 patients have used the facility over the last 7 years. We keep a record of the patients who have stayed with us. There are cases of re-occurrence of cancer in certain cases and 12 patients who finished their treatment and who left the centre, died later on. As we became more aware of the increasing need in this area of cancer care, we felt the need to acquire a bigger place to accommodate more patients.

With this vision in mind, we purchased an independent house in May 2015, having 1300 sq. ft. of built-up area and about 1300 sq. ft. of covered terrace, quite near to the earlier Centre.

The new place was blessed by Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Mar Theethos Tirumeni on 4th Dec 2015, when Rev. A Y Varughese was the Vicar.

Dedication of Umeed Bhavan
Dedication of Umeed Bhavan

Some repairs and other changes are required before the place can be developed to its full potential. Once the approval for construction of the balance FSI is received, we will construct the first floor and shift the Umeed Foundation Cancer Care Centre to the new place. We plan to accommodate at least 20 patients and their relatives there.

The Umeed Foundation is managed by the committee elected by the General Body of the church under the guidance of the Vicar, for a tenure of 3 years.

The centre is supported by contributions from Marthoma School, Maharashtra, the collections received from parishioners through sacrificial giving ‘Ruchi Vediyu, Ruchi Pakaru’ on Palm Sunday, and Voluntary donations from individuals.

Writeup by:

Mr. M O Eapen