Happy Feet Home Made of Great

A dusky girl, sitting amidst giggling kids, clad in a salwar kameez with dark kajal lined eyes smiled and waved at me. Perhaps that was and will always be my first recollection of Mansi Shah. A young highly energetic and lively girl who is definitely #madeofgreat.

Switch to Mr.Goldilocks a.k.a. Abhishek Tatiya. The most carefree soul I have ever met. Dancing on the tunes of “dhinka-chika” with 8-9-year-old terminally ill patients. I first spotted him busy playing with a few kids at St. Jude's Cancer Research Organisation Mumbai. Both of them were literally glowing, and their smiles reflected in their eyes and the zest they held matched the kids. 

It is true that you meet so many people in your lifetime but, there are only a few who leave a mark. Those are the ones who are #madeofgreat. They with their work, prove to the world that they are made for great things.

Meet Mansi Shah and Abhishek Tatiya who started Happy Feet Home, India’s first hospice for terminally ill children, a place which fills happiness in the lives of kids with terminal illnesses. 

Just think about it, if a child has just a week left to live, Happy Feet Home Team make sure that it is the happiest week of his or her life. Dying is not a laughing matter but, it can certainly be made peaceful and happy for others.

Their journey to Happy feet Home has not been easy. It has been full of ups and downs. I had first met Mansi and Abhishek at a Sing A Smile event, where a bunch of us, young, energetic, mostly out-of-tune people  (along with a few musically inclined ones) trying to sing for people and bring a smile on other's face. It was the brain child of two great fellows from college (Akash Uba and Kunal Chaudhary). We all thought of it as the best way to spend a weekend after the mind throttling weekdays spent in the office. 

However, Mansi Shah and Abhishek Tatiya were different than all of us. They were not there because they were taking a break or trying to find their ways. They were the only ones who knew what they wanted to do. Mansi worked with the NGO Akanksha when I had met her for the first time in 2011 and switched to St.Jude’s in the later years.

If you have read "The Fault in Our Stars” you know the endless questions and moments of grief terminally ill kids go through. Mansi goes through those questions everyday. And she has the answers as well. It is not a place where someone is allowed to feel sorry or sympathise with these kids. But, it is a place where they come and forget about everything sad.

It is not an easy task to take care of a loved one battling with a terminal illness. Happy Feet Home is built on this very premises, on the need for parents of children, who, most often, are their caregivers, to receive support.

Abhishek and Mansi underwent a lot of research and visited many hospitals and other hospices to see how they worked and what all resources were needed. Endless nights and long days of hard work, marathon meetings, shameless networking and countless questioning lead to India’s first hospice Happy Feet Home.

India’s first hospice for children was set up in Sion in Mumbai and was started with an intake of 35 children on August 14, 2014. More than 10 lakhs rupees came through crowdfunding. 

Every child who comes to Happy Feet Home knows that his or her days are numbered due to their health condition, yet they are infused with an undying enthusiasm and joy.

Going through "Tata Motor" #Madeofgreat campaign, I realised how Tata has always been associated with the pillars of trust and goodwill. Tata as a brand name is something that my parents will swear by and narrate anecdotes of how things changed because of their innovations and dedication followed by Tata. Lionel Messi as a sports icon is a great role model and inspiration.

Mansi and Abhishek's story is a story of the power of an idea and how they turned it into reality. They have proved that young India can move mountains with faith, hardwork, discipline and will to live their dreams. One needs to dream and have the courage to live the dream. 

Both of them will always be dear friends to me. But you will also be the people whom will be exemplars for people who dared to live their dreams and succeeded. 

I might not have said this personally in so many words, Abhishek and Mansi you are #Madeofgreat. It is what drives you to do things differently that makes you great. 

FB page – https://www.facebook.com/HappyFeetHome
Twitter Handle – @happyfeethome 

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