Subhasini Mistry toiled for years as a manual labourer, a housemaid and a vegetable-seller. At 70, she can look back with satisfaction at a two-storied, whitewashed building, the realization of her dream to build a hospital for the poor – all because she could not afford proper medical treatment for her husband and became a widow at 23. Her younger son Ajoy is a doctor at the hospital which has 12 doctors and over 25 beds and runs on donations.
Mistry was grief-stricken after her husband died, but she resolved to build a hospital for the needy so that others would not have to suffer the same fate as her husband. What followed was a life of abject poverty and extreme physical labor as the mother of four soldiered on with the single-minded pursuit of setting up the hospital. Over time, she managed to save enough to buy a one-bigha (one-third of an acre) plot. Now 47 years down the line, Humanity Hospital, in Hanspukur village near Kolkata, stands tall and proud, serving the poor free of cost since 1996, a testimony to a single woman’s grit, determination and never-say-die spirit against all possible odds.
Says Mistry “This is all I could do on my own. I don’t regret that I had to put two of my children in an orphanage, that I couldn’t educate them. There were things needed to be done for the greater good.” Mistry told IANS: “When my husband passed away, I was in shock initially. Then I realized I had four hungry mouths to feed. My oldest child, a son, was four-and-a-half-years old at the time. My youngest, a daughter, was one-and-a-half.
Subhasini Mistry – Overcoming Personal Tragedy to Bring Good Health
Subhasini Mistry, was featured on Aamir Khan’s popular TV show Satyamev Jayate
“I had no education and could not even tell the time. So I decided I would do whatever work that was available. I started out as a aayah (domestic help) in the nearby houses.” During that period, she made a silent promise to herself: she would set up a hospital for the needy that would provide treatment free of cost. Gradually she realized that house work alone would not suffice; so she took to brick-laying and other physically demanding chores to supplement her meager income. Her two sons would lend a hand at work. Early on, she had made up her mind that come what may, she would educate one of her sons to be a doctor.
Now the younger son Ajoy, a doctor, carries on her mother’s mission at the hospital. ”I did everything. My children used to earn Re.1 while I used to get Rs.1.25. I never spent on myself. Whatever I earned, I saved most of it for the hospital. ”Some of my earnings were spent on educating my younger son and daughter. Unfortunately the other two I had to sent to an orphanage,” Mistry said.
She put aside the majority of what she earned and after around 30 years of scrimping and saving, she had collected enough to buy a plot of land. ”One of the babus (landlords) was selling off his land. I went to him and fell at his feet to let me buy the plot for a lesser amount. He relented and finally a part of my dream came true,” said Mistry. In 1993, the Humanity Trust was formed and a temporary clinic was set up with the combined effort of all the residents.