A look inside Genesis Foundation
February 10, 2020 | Contributed by Ananya Ravi
Genesis Foundation has been providing treatment for underprivileged children for almost 2 decades now. The Founders, Jyoti and Prema Sagar, have put their heart and soul into the creation of GenesisFoundation (GF), and we’re here to provide you a brief history of the same, but from Jyoti Sagar’s perspective. I sat down and had a long talk to understand the inner workings of the foundation and was provided with enough to write an entire novel. But this is a summed-up version of the thoughts and ideas behind the leading foundation for the treatment of CHD in India.
The idea of setting up GF had been in the works for a long time before the actual establishment of it. The “genesis” of genesis is a sad story, but inspiring, nonetheless. On December 20th, 1983, Jyoti and Prema lost their 2nd born child to CHD, Samir. Back then, the technology and facilities required to treat CHD were pretty much non-existing in India. Hence, unfortunately, the help that they required to cure their child were unavailable to them. This loss is what made them want to do something to help. They started volunteering at Missionaries of Charity and other sporadic cases, like Sheela and Ravi. They wanted to start a foundation of their own. But it was a hard time for them. They were in the process of setting up their own practices – Jyoti with his law firm in 1991 and Prema with Genesis PR in 1992, and their children were growing up too. But the feeling of loss never left them, hence the thought of doing something never did either. But over time, with consistent effort, Genesis Foundation was set up in 2001. While it was established in 2001, realistically the work began in 2010.
Back then they weren’t just dealing with CHD. They covered a range of ailments, namely: CHD, Thalassemia, Cancer, Acute Deformities, and Post-organ transplant medication, all for underprivileged children. This went on till 2013, and that’s when they realised, they were trying to do too much. It was hard to keep up, so they decided to focus only on CHD, Cancer, and Thalassemia. But with due thinking and analysing, they decided they still had too much on their plate and decided to stick with only CHD. The reason being that CHD was the least serviced ailment in India and was heavily prevalent as well. 1 in 100 children are born with CHD. It required attention that wasn’t being given and they wanted to be the ones to take initiative.
The families that Genesis Foundation works with fall under the salary bracket of Rs. 10,000. I was curious to know why the bar was set at this particular number and not more. Originally, their cut off was Rs. 7,000, but due to inflation over the years and change in the level of earnings, it was raised to Rs. 10,000. In many cases, when the father is a marginal farmer, or a labourer in the farming sector, it’s hard to ascertain their actual income since there are no income proofs. You have to go with the certification produced by the local administration, like the tehsildar, with the estimated monthly income. When there is no proof, a level of judgment and discretion gets exercised. Hence, they need a benchmark to work with. They want to reach a certain criterion of children, the poorest of poor, the ones with no access to healthcare facilities. And if they need to ascertain a certain criterion of children, benchmarks are required.
The feeling of giving helping, according to Jyoti, remains innate in humans. Everyone feels a sense of happiness when they put a smile on someone else’s face. And this feeling is what is amplified in a few people. It’s the idea of recognising how blessed you are, having gratitude, as compared to someone who might not be as blessed as you. It’s looking out for that someone and thinking of whether something can be done by you to help them. If you’re at a place where you can potentially provide for someone who doesn’t have the same privileges as you, why wouldn’t you. Putting personal benefit aside, the fact that you’re making someone’s life better should be enough. “How do you measure the impact of saving someone’s life?”. And with that, we concluded our talk.
This talk with Jyoti provided me with a lot to think about. About how one can spend their entire lives in service of others, the determination with which he ploughed through the difficult times of his life, and the inspiration he provides to so many people with his story. I was left with a warm feeling of working with a foundation that works tirelessly for the noble cause of treatment for underprivileged children.