[Monday Motivation] Meet this doctor couple from Maharashtra, helping over 300 destitute women

Husband and wife duo Dr Rajendra and Dr Sucheta Dhamane started Mauli Seva Pratishthan in Ahmednagar to provide physical and mental support to abandoned women and children.

When Rajendra Dhamane completed his medical degree in the early 90s and opened his own clinic, his passion to help people in any way came to the fore.

But, soon after he began practising, a drastic incident made Dr Rajendra’s resolve even stronger. On his way to work one day, he came across a destitute woman sifting through a garbage pile. On closer look, he was shocked to see that she was eating her own stools. Shaken by this sight, he offered his own lunch box to the woman. He realised that abandoned and mentally ill, the woman had no one to look after her.

Thus, in 1998, Dr Rajendra and his wife Dr Sucheta Dhamane, started providing food for such women, most of whom they found in dire straits on the roads, using their family resources.

Dr Rajendra and Dr Sucheta Dhamane

The Dhamane family soon realised that it was wiser to start a charitable home, as the women needed shelter, support, medical treatment, and also protection from sexual abuse.

That’s how Mauli Seva Pratishthan (MSP), based in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, came to be.

“There are so many women who are raped and then left behind on the streets. My wife and I are determined to help as many as we can,” says Dr Rajendran.

Constructing the home

Dr Rajendra’s father, Bajirao Dhamane Guruji, a retired teacher, generously offered a plot of 6,000 sqft of his own land for construction of the home. Eminent philanthropist and structural engineer from Pune, the late YS Sane, donated Rs 6 lakh at the time.

In 2007, the MSP building was constructed and the organisation started its operations officially.

Since then, it has been a shelter for destitute, homeless and mentally affected women and children. The institution provides lifelong care, treatment, and rehabilitation of its inmates by not only taking care of their medical needs but by also giving them a home with healthy meals, clean surroundings, and hope for a better life.

According to Dr Rajendra, many of the women who are rescued also suffer from critical illnesses like AIDS, tuberculosis, renal disorders/failure, venereal diseases, among others. They need constant care, love, and rehabilitation to make it through, and are taken care of 24/7 at Mauli.

Focus on physical and mental wellbeing

Mauli is a full-time commitment for Dr Rajendra and family.

He says, “The work in Mauli is 24/7. The day starts at 6am and ends by 11pm. As these women are in a bad state physically and mentally, they require personal care. Attendants have to bathe them, clean them, address their toilet needs. Special attention is given to mentally distressed women, those affected by AIDS, and those with children,” he adds.

Dr Sucheta Dhamane while preparing food for the destitute

“Until now, Mauli has been entirely funded by public donations with no support from the government. All the work carried out here is with the help of recovered inmates. Paid staff is not available. We are working in multiple roles—as a doctor as well as a cook, ambulance driver, attendant, nurse, lab technician and as cleaning staff also,” he says.

The institution is still raising funds through various platforms such as Milaap, Ketto and others.

Dr Rajendra also continues to work at his clinic, and has also managed to pursue a post-graduate degree in clinical psychology,.

Mauli Seva Pratishthan is accredited by the Mental Health Authority of Maharashtra, as a registered/licensed institute working in the field of psychiatry, and also has an ISO 9001-2008 certificate. Currently, the Pratishthan is looking after more than 300 women and 29 children (of inmates), many of whom were born at Mauli.

In June 2016, Dr Rajendra received the prestigious International Humanitarian Award 2016 from Rotary International at Hong Kong. The award, worth $1,00,000, is being used to build a new facility as part of Mauli’s expansion.

Edited by Anju Narayanan


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