Light at the end of the tunnel – The Arundhati Foundation

Written By

Namita Kutty

Arundhati Foundation Loading

To half a cup of sorrow, add another half of joy, a generous dollop of laughter abd then the tears you cry. Learn to savour this mixture. It’s bitter-sweet, don’t gripe. Sip it in your own time, and enjoy your brew called ‘LIFE’. – Arundhati Tambwekar

Little did Arundhati know that when she was writing this, she was leaving behind a message for her family to live with!

The biggest nightmare of any parent is to see harm befall their little one. Any such incident can completely disrupt the hope of life for parents. In the midst of such an incident, Dr. Shubhangi and her family have been a tower of strength, a beacon of light in dark times. In the wake of their greatest personal tragedy, they found strength and resilience to run a campaign to ensure that others are safe.

Dr Shubhangi and her husband started The Arundhati foundation within three months of the death of their daughter in a road accident. Their daughter, Dr. Arudhanti, fondly called Aru, was merely 23 years old. She was pursuing her post graduate studies in Clinical Pathology.  Dr Arundhati was engaged to the man of her dreams and was to be married in eight months and eight days down the line. On September 9, 2014, she met with the accident in Vellore, on her way to the hospital from her hostel. She was riding pillion and was perhaps the only person who wore a helmet despite riding pillion in Vellore! A devastating blow like no other for her loving parents and family to be.

Arundhati Foundation was born from a determination to keep the memory of their beloved daughter alive and save other parents from this anguish. The seed money for the Foundation came from the money saved by Dr. Arundhati from her own personal earnings during her internship and PG. This was supplemented with the money Dr. Shubhangi had kept aside for Aru’s future and earnings from family members like the grandparents. The family came together at this time of crisis to keep their beloved Aru alive in the memories of people, in thoughts as well as deeds. 

Their core program deals with road safety and creating awareness on what is happening on Indian roads. The statistics are staggering.  Dr Shubhangi shares “What would you say if I told you that every day a plane load of people are killed on Indian roads? A plane crash makes breaking news, doesn’t it? Well, that is exactly what is happening. We lose 400 people every day on our roads. That’s like a plane crashing every day. And that is only the reported cases. So many accidents go unreported and unrecorded. We spread the message in schools, colleges, apartment associations and software companies where we get to interact with youngsters!” Scary indeed!

The Arundhati Foundation raises awareness and educates the masses on how to raise complaints against civic authorises, to highlight unsafe road conditions like potholes and teach them to follow up till the complaint is resolved. They partner with other organisations working in this area for pothole filling activities. They even use their funds to fill potholes using a cold mix called Shellmac.  They conduct the road safety activities under our program Vikram. 

They also aim to promote the Pursuit of Excellence in Pathology, which was Arundhati’s chosen field and passion, through the Arundhati Tambwekar Award for Excellence in Pathology. Dr Shubhangi elaborates further “ It is started by us to honour the topper in the subject of pathology at Christian Medical College, Vellore. The first award was given two months after Aru’s death. The award recognises excellence in pathology and the candidate is chosen not only on the basis of marks scored in the university exam, but also based on work as a post-graduate registrar, with emphasis on teaching and conduct. In short, we look for those qualities our child epitomised. Not just brilliance, but hard work, teaching and care of patients and fellow professionals.

They also have a host of other programs. ‘Vikram’ which focuses on road safety, ‘Dhwani’ where they sponsor one hearing-impaired child for speech therapy or a hearing aid, and ‘Aditi’, which aims to sponsor Pathology text books for undergraduate and post graduate levels to deserving women students are some of the other programs.

The metrics of what this foundation has achieved speak for themselves. Since 2014,  They have reached over 6900 people, of which more than 900 have taken the Pledge for Road Safety. In Civic Improvements, they have fixed 36 potholes, and undertaken multiple cleaning drives.  They have also touched numerous lives with their hearing aids and helped more than 28 children hear better! The Excellence in Pathology award has been consistently given from 2014.

Dr Shubhangi talks about what this blow has taught her. “We have stopped thinking about our future. We do the best we can do today. Yes, we would have wanted a few people by our side. But one of the things that happen when one loses a child is that we are isolated because perhaps people do not know how to treat bereaved parents. And we have found out that those who could have been our strength preferred to isolate us. And once I realised it, there was no point in expecting anything from such people.”

All of us at Siyawoman, have only one word for this brave crusader – Respect! Much respect and admiration from our entire team. May our dear Aru rest in peace. 

Know more about The Arundhati Foundation here.

Editors note: Besides being a budding doctor, Arundhati was a very good writer. In the memory of her daugther, the Tambwekars put together some of her works that they felt they would be comfortable sharing with the world. SiyaWoman feels extremely honoured that selected works of Arundhati will be published on our site – every Friday. Look out for her works, starting from 5th May.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mommy of a pint-sized dictator (read toddler). Wife of a super busy entrepreneur who's also an incredibly hands-on daddy (never mind all her whingeing!). Lover of books, yoga; and fitness enthusiast (read: the long journey back to pre-natal petiteness) and member of the top secret 'New Mommy Club'. Namita in her previous avatar was a senior HR professional for over a decade in top IT, Banking and Retail MNCs. She prided herself on her people management abilities and effective conflict resolution. All of which comes to naught as she's totally owned by a toddler at negotiations.

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