Where there is a will, there is a way.
This old saying is time-tested and never fails to inspire us to stand against the odds. If we do not have sheer determination towards our goal, we will not be able to achieve it, however big or small the targets may be. It is in life’s most difficult moments that we attain inspiration from within to fight against all the odds that come our way and emerge victorious.
This is a story of an extraordinary individual whose actions have spoken louder than words ever could - Subhasini Mistry, a Padma Shri recipient. She is a source of hope and motivation to millions across the globe for building a hospital single-handedly to serve people despite of the financial crunches she had been through and has been a constant source of support to all those in need
Ill-fated child bride
Subhasini got married at the age of 12. Tragedy struck 12 years later when she lost her husband to poverty. He was suffering from gastroenteritis and they had no means for his treatment. The family was so poor that they could not even afford basic medication to treat his illness. She was left stranded in the middle of nowhere with four kids to feed and look after. Her oldest child, a son, was four-and-a-half-year-old while her youngest, a daughter, was 18-month-old. This incident left her scarred and she made a promise to herself that no one should ever suffer like her husband did just because they don't have money. She was determined to contribute towards developing healthcare facilities for the needy.
Being a young uneducated widow, there was not much she could do to earn a day’s living. She started working as an aaya (domestic help) in the nearby houses. Gradually, she realized that she would have to work more in order to suffice for her family. She began doing brick laying jobs and other physically challenging chores in order to support the needs of her family. She sent her eldest son to an orphanage, while the other three kids stayed with her. She also began selling vegetables in various regions.
20 years of unending sacrifices for others
She opened a savings account and deposited money that she managed to save every month. She was keen on building a hospital and making her son a doctor. She ensured that he received a profound education and slogged for 23 years tirelessly towards her goal.
After saving for 20 years, she purchased a land in Thakurpukur's Hanspukur (her husband's village) for Rs 10,000. She had heard that some landlord was selling his plot in the village. So, she approached and pleaded him to sell it to her for a lesser rate. She set up a temporary clinic in 1993 and the Humanity Trust was formed, with the efforts of all the neighbouring residents.
Mistry went around asking for charitable contribution towards setting up the hospital. Some donated in cash, while some offered to volunteer in kind by helping in construction or procurement of raw materials. Slowly and steadily a highly-furnished one room clinic came into being and three doctors started treating patients free of cost at Subhasini's request.
In 1996, a permanent building was inaugurated. The small staff at the hospital, that included one of her daughters, kept soaring towards new heights in their service. Her son joined her as a doctor and expanded the hospital. They got another unit up and running in Patharpratima, Sunderbans. In 2009, Mistry won the renowned Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the mind-of-steel category.
She was awarded Padma Shri in 2018 for social work.
According to her, what she has accomplished is just a drop in the ocean and there are many a things that have remained undone due to a financial crunch. ”My wish will be fulfilled entirely when doctors and nurses are available round the clock and when we can provide all the services of a modern hospital,” she said.
(By Declan Rego)