Chennai: Cancer is a debilitating disease that causes severe pain and has the capability to break down the hopes of patients. The Ashwin Maharaj Foundation (AMF) is an organisation that aims to mitigate the pain that this disease causes and focuses on rehabilitating cancer patients in India.
The foundation started its mission 27 December 2015 initiated by M Manonmani, the founder-managing trustee of the organisation and the mother of Ashwin Maharaj, after whom the foundation is named. Sadly, Manonmani had lost her son to acute myeloid leukemia (blood cancer) the same year.
“The journey commenced with Ashwin Maharaj, a human rights person,” as his mother says about the budding lawyer who grew up with the dream of uplifting the less privileged. “He believed in the joy of life,” says Manonmani, recalling his days in college when Ashwin spent time in Balgram orphanage (Navi Mumbai) and encouraged the children to participate in sports, music and dance and taught them social values.
“Even blood cancer could not stop his dreams. With the help of music therapy that he received in California – where he had his education and later, treatment – Ashwin was able to cope with the pain and side-effects of the treatment. He decided to help less privileged cancer patients with the help of music therapy,” she said.
With the support of Ashwin’s friends and relatives, his dream has been brought to life at Adyar Cancer Institute, albeit posthumously.
Later, the organisation reached out to cancer patients in various hospitals, including AIIMS – New Delhi, Coimbatore Medical College, MNJ – Hyderabad, GCRI – Ahmedabad, JIMPER – Puducherry, Rajaji Government Hospital – Madurai, and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital – Chennai.
“To extend our service, we are looking for places where Ashwin has friends,” adds Manonmani.
Today, the foundation has officially tied up with 63 colleges and conducts music therapy twice a week at leading government cancer hospitals. With the involvement of young singers, a lot of energy has been channelised, Manonmani says.
Winning the battles of creating a trust, the organisation moved a step ahead in distributing high-protein health mix powder bottles that serve as a balanced and light diet for cancer patients and gives them the required supplementary nutrition.
The organisation is also working on one of Ashwin’s visions to create legal awareness among the villagers for he believed in bringing about social changes.
“The working style of The Ashwin Maharaj Foundation brings to light the value of good relationships and creation of a united family, inclusive of every being who is a part of the organisation. This is the most unforgettable message that the foundation has imparted to me,” says Nivedhitha Gunasekaran, a coordinator of AMF.
Report: Shivani Rajavelu