At challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic, even at its peak, there were few people who were there to help others in more ways than one. Leading the youth chapter at Jaipur Foot USA as the chief youth coordinator, 17-year-old Nikhil Mehta is inspiring many with his social service. Jaipur Foot USA and Gracious Givers Foundation USA organised an event in New York on Monday to recognise the efforts of its youth members, whose contributions have made a remarkable impact in lives of millions of differently-abled people.
Jaipur Foot USA is a subsidiary of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata (BMVSS), founded by Padam Bhushan D. R . Mehta, is one of the largest organizations serving the global disabled population. They provide artificial limbs, calipers, and other aids free of charge to help amputees and disabled individuals lead a successful and independent life.
The welcome event and award ceremony in New York City was a grand affair, and V. Muraleedharan, MOS for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, was its chief guest. The event was also attended by Deputy Consul General of New York Dr. Varun Jeph, former RANA (Rajasthani Association of North America) presidents, Haridas Kotahwala and K.K. Mehta, President of Rajasthan Foundation, USA, Kanak Golia, Ashok Sancheti, Dr. Raj Modi, Rahul Sur, IPS, his wife Meera Sur - both working in United Nations at senior levels, and Andy Chinoy among others. Senior US govt official Deep and Sapna Chopra, Vilas Savargaonkar also attended the event.
At the event, Prem Bhandari, the Chairman of Jaipur Foot USA, highlighted the NGO's rich contributions towards the differently-abled community and shared the contributions of two of its youth members, Nikhil Mehta and Ajay Tadinada, both of whom were felicitated during Monday's event.
Contributions by Nikhil, Ajay
Bhandari listed down the contributions made by the two youths that benefitted a lot of people during the pandemic. In addition to the contributions already made to better the lives of many, Nikhil has also announced that he has raised funds through his school friends to provide 5,000 hearing aids to the needy. Kanak Golia of Jaipur foot USA, Nikhil's grandfather, also announced to match the funding for another 5000 hearing aids free of cost, bringing the total to 10,000 hearing aids. These devices will be sent to BMVSS to be distributed in India under the leadership of Padma Bhushan, D.R. Mehta, Founder & Chief Patron BMVSS.
During the pandemic, Nikhil launched the "Oxygen on Wheels" program — a free service for needy patients in the rural villages that surround Jodhpur. The service provided free oxygen support from a mobile bus for COVID patients while they are waiting for admission into the then overpopulated hospitals. For this, Nikhil had approached Prem Bhandari who then arranged a bus through Vader Charitable Trust in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and fitted it with oxygen concentrator to help COVID-infected people suffering with breathing difficulties during transit.
Nikhil also came up with the mobile service for differently-abled in a bid to help the rural people in this COVID environment where the movements are restricted, and transportation is difficult. Nikhil's family foundation came forward to fund the idea, which involved purchasing a large van, equipping and installing the equipment required, and a power generator to power the equipment in case the village doesn't have electricity. The poster for the mobile van was launched by Muraleedharan in New York.
BMVSS was able to successfully complete 71 artificial limb fittings in Vadnagar, Gujarat - the birthplace of Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the mobile van, in just one week. In addition to that, the mobile van distributed calipers to 51 polio patients and 30 crutches.
Bhandari also highlighted the contributions of Ajay, who was inspired by the work of D.R. Mehta when he was in 9th grade and joined Jaipur Foot USA. As part of the Jaipur Foot USA youth initiative, he has launched an internship program for youth to work with Jaipur Foot USA's initiatives to help differently-abled people in India.
"I had the opportunity to be associated with the activities of Jaipur Foot USA when I honorable vice president inaugurated the Jaipur Foot event in my Malawi. The organizations transformative service to underprivileged people free of cost deserves Special mention on my compliments. Jaipur Foot camps have helped Change lives of so many people not only in India but across the globe From Asia to Africa to Latin America," MOS Muraleedharan said at the event.
The minister even congratulated Ajay and Nikhil Mehta for the Oxygen on Wheels initiative, reaching out to the differently-abled persons in remote places and for simplifying the foundations website by providing for automated contributions.
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At the event, Bhandari, who is a prominent voice of the Indian diaspora and social activist, thanked the Indian government and highlighted the contributions of India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bhandari lauded how India extended help to neighboring countries, Africa and South America by providing millions of vaccines and other COVID-related medicines. PM Modi launched the Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) initiative to supply vaccines to low-income and developing countries globally.
Bhandari also recalled the Vande Bharat Mission, which safe air travel in a phased manner and eased the pain of many families stranded in the USA due to travel ban and Indian diaspora people who needed to attend the family emergencies in India.
Bhandari extended his special gratitude for resolving the long-standing OCI renewal process/procedure issue, which benefitted 6 million-plus OCI cardholders since 2019 due to cumbersome renewal regulations and administrative issues when traveling with OCI.