Shree Vithalrao Joshi Charities Trust
In 1977, Revered Shri Vithalrao Joshi alias Shree Digambardas Maharaj established Shri Vithalrao Joshi Charities Trust. He had established the Shree Sant Sitarambuwa Walawalkar Charitable Trust in 1969. These two trusts together brought about a total socio-economic transformation of the village.
The Trust initiated a free Medical Dispensary, where qualified Medical Doctor was posted whole time, to attend to the ailments of villagers in early seventies. In those days, lot of persuasion was required to convince the people having superstitious faith to seek benefit of the Dispensary for their ailments. To free them from the clutches of those exploiting them for centuries, was a tough job.
However, slowly but surely the things changed for the better with the growing acceptance and popularity of the Trust. Due to the visible outcome of the Trust’s integrated efforts based on hard work and sincerity, response of the ailing patients to the Dispensary improved. Cases requiring urgent medical attention were taken to District Civil Hospital at Ratnagiri or to Mumbai for treatment, at Trust’s cost in Trust’s own vehicles.
Dervan village in Konkan is situated in one of the most backward regions of Maharashtra State. Until seventies, it had all the predominant features of a neglected Indian village: being deprived of development, having lowest per capita income, lack of basic necessities of life like food, shelter, drinking water, education etc., exploitation from various quarters of the society etc. The population mainly consisted of landless laborers, which still remained in the village, after rapid migration to cities by most of the villagers for earning their livelihood.
Villagers of Dervan, like in any other backward Indian Cities, were deprived of modern medical assistance. They suffered from various diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis etc. due to impure drinking water, malnutrition, inadequate diet etc. Due to absence of education and illiteracy, people were superstitious in general and were being exploited by the unqualified Vaidus or those practicing tantra / Mantra, operating in moffusil areas.
Shree Digambardas Maharaj had planned to establish a modern medical charitable Hospital at Dervan in 1980 itself. But the local mischievous elements and local politicians obstructed his way. Those, who survived on exploitation of poor and innocent villagers, could not stand the villagers’ freedom from exploitation. As any good work has to pass through several tests and uncalled for difficulties, the idea of a charitable Hospital had to be dropped for taking shape at an appropriate time in future.
Selfless, dedicated devotees of Shree Digambardas Maharaj, under the guidance of his successor, Revered Shree Kaka Maharaj initiated the project of an ultra modern Hospital at Dervan in 1995, with the support of Shri Kamlakarpant Walawalkar, a builder-industrialist by profession, but essentially a philanthropist, who was Managing Trustee of both the TRUSTS. Shri Walawalkar’s contribution in the mission of Shree Digambardas Maharaj was unparalleled and his virtues and selflessness cannot be expressed in words, as all such words would fall far short. Unfortunately, Shri Kamlakarpant Walawalkar did not survive to see the completion of the Hospital project. To cherish his memory, the Hospital was named as BHAKTASHRESHTHA KAMLAKARPANT L. WALAWALKAR HOSPITAL, DIAGNOSTIC AND RESEARCH CENTRE. This is the only project named after him (posthumously), as he strictly avoided any self-publicity during his lifetime.
The hospital has been established at an investment of approximately, Rs.20 Crores and has been almost entirely funded by Walawalkar family from their business gains. It is the only ultra modern Hospital on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, almost at the midpoint between Mumbai and Panaji, having a stretch of about 600 K.Ms. Purpose of establishing the Hospital is to provide modern medical facilities and best of the medical care to the poor villagers residing around Dervan, in particular and to the entire population in Konkan region in general at highly subsidized rates.
1) Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial
Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji is the symbol of self-respect, self-honor of the nation and is treated almost at par with a deity in Maharashtra. Shree Digambardas Maharaj, alongside the socio-economic and other activities, had carefully planned a unique Memorial for Shree SHIVAJI MAHARAJ for the awakening of his compatriots from sluggishness and to develop national pride in them, in order to prepare entire nation for regaining its legitimate position in the world.
The memorial has shape of a model FORT. Inside the fort, there are life size statues of infantry-soldiers (warriors) on horsebacks, elephants, in the traditional dress carrying weapons of 17th century as also the sculptural presentation of some of the most important events in the life of Shree Shivaji Maharaj, in an exquisite form which gives tremendous inspiration and kindles the fire of patriotism in the hearts of visitors. It is today popularly known as SHIVASRUSHTI, which is being visited on an average by about 2000 people every day from the nooks and corners of our country. It has emerged as a national pilgrimage and Derwan village is now known as “Shree Kshetra Derwan”.
2) Recreation Garden
The villagers, particularly children and youngsters in the earlier deserted DERVAN village had no place for recreation. TRUST has constructed a beautiful garden on 3.5 acres of its owned land. The park has a waterfall, play equipments for children and has been exclusively reserved for the children of Dervan and nearby villages, so that they get the exclusive benefit and the park does not result in a picnic spot, leaving heaps of waste in the Garden.
3) Sanskrit Ved Pathashala
In order to protect and strengthen our Heritage, two SANSKRIT VEDA PATHASHALAs are run under the auspices of the TRUST, at Pune & Dervan in which about fifty students have been admitted at present. The Schools (Pathashala) are residential and the ancient HINDU SCRIPTURES are being taught in traditional way. Students are admitted at a tender age of 8-10 years and the curriculum consists of 5 to 12 years for priesthood and learning of different branches of VEDAS. Selected students are provided with free lodging & boarding, clothing and necessary medical treatment. Annual competitions for memory recitation are held for the students in various groups, and liberal prizes are awarded to the participants.
4) Sports and Other Cultural Activities
Trust has also given liberal financial assistance to many institutions carrying out activities in their own way, having resemblance with social, cultural objectives of the TRUST. TRUST also has given cash assistance and / or sponsored various sports competitions organized in Chiplun Taluka for the last several years, as a measure of development of youth, with the intention of preparing them for (friendly) competitions in life, inculcating in them the habit of setting goals in life and deciding strategies for the achievement thereof, through relentless hard work.
1) Work for all
Scarcity of resources, lack of skills, majority of marginal farmers and landless laborers has resulted in increasing unemployment in the Konkan Region and the problem was even more acute in Dervan and nearby villages. Various activities were undertaken by the TRUST such as Farming and other allied Agricultural activities, Construction of Roads, Bridges, Premises, work required for the conservation of soil and conservation & development of resources of water etc. essentially to create employment opportunities for the local villagers, within the integrated developmental work in the area
Villagers around the Project area were attracted to the TRUST for possible employment opportunities and in order NOT to disappoint anybody, considering acute problem of unemployment; TRUST initiated various projects to absorb all the job seekers. This resulted in the Novel scheme “WORK FOR ALL”, a sort of ‘Employment Guarantee’ for the unemployed in Dervan and nearby villages. While on the one hand this acquired desired velocity for the public welfare schemes undertaken by the Trust, on the other hand it resulted in JUST REWARD IN CASH ON WEEKLY BASIS for the LABORERS which was a novice development for the masses, who were being exploited for several years. As a result, migration to cities from this area, got checked and the villagers could achieve stability and a reasonably better standard of living.
Due to multiple activities undertaken by Trust, employment opportunities in the various fields such as Farming, Construction, Plumbing, Carpentry, Gardening, Driving of Vehicles, Electrical Work, Nursing, Security, General Management etc. became available to the villagers near their villages itself. As a result of this, those who had joined as unskilled laborers in the various vocations made available to them by the Trust, acquired better skills and in due course some of them even started their own works / businesses. Discipline, Punctuality, Efficient disposal of work etc. learnt in the TRUST while discharging their duties, helped them in their independent activities with an edge over their competitors in the society and naturally they were successful in whatever activities they pursued thereafter.
Distribution of Blankets
As majority of the population is dependent / engaged in agriculture and allied activities, Blanket is an essential requirement in this area for protection from Rains and severe winter. However most of the villagers living below the poverty line were unable to purchase the same, cash down. As a result local moneylenders used to supply them the blankets at exorbitant and unjust return in cash / food grains or used to exploit them for their labor. In order to arrest the exploitation, TRUST initially commenced distribution of free blankets to the villagers. However considering a very large number of people in need of such blankets every season, the blankets, are now offered by the TRUST at highly subsidized rates.
TRUST has been supplying Rice, Sugar, and edible Oil at highly subsidized rates, few days prior to the major festivals, at a price lower than the rates prevailing at the Government Ration shops. One kg edible oil (@ Rs.35/- per kg.), two kgs. sugar (@ Rs.10/- per kg.) and rice (@ Rs.6/- per kg.) as per required quantity, is supplied to about 650 families at Dervan and nearby villages, who have been given `ration cards’ for the purpose.
Mangalsutra for the wedding
Trust has been offering Rs.1200/- for purchase of Mangalsutra at the time of marriages of the female employees of the TRUST. Normally in this area families get heavily indebted during their daughters’ marriages, but those employed in the TRUST are an exception to this. Female employees of the TRUST are given clothes, essential utensils and certain amount of cash, at the time of their marriages, as a result their families can happily bid farewell to their daughters after the marriage.
Free Drinking Water
Ratnagiri District in general and Chiplun Taluka in particular have a scarcity of water. The shortage is acute in the months of February to June every year. Available supply of water is not adequate and the same is not potable as a result of which people used to get affected with several viral diseases. To prohibit spread of viral diseases that occurred due to drinking of water, not suitable for human health, TRUST has been supplying potable water through tankers, in nearby 10 villages for four months, from March to June every year. The supply of potable water is obtained from Koyana / Ambetkhol Dams situated at a distance of about 20/30 K.Ms. TRUST has purchased one tanker and two more are hired for the purpose.
The activity continues irrespective of heavy expenses incurred for the purpose, essentially as a HEALTH CARE MEASURE
As a long-term solution to the problem of acute shortage of water in the area, a dam has been recently constructed at Dervan, the construction of which, was very actively pursued by the TRUST with State Government of Maharashtra.
Development of infrastructure at Dervan and nearby villages
Due to paucity of resources and the priority of other developmental projects, the Government can not provide even basic infrastructure like Roads / bridges etc. particularly in small villages like Dervan. Heavy rains in this part of our country, affects the movement, particularly of school going children during rainy season. Children used to avoid going to schools in rainy season due to mud. Trust therefore built, 5 km WBM roads connecting villages and three ‘sakav’ (bridges) on the river Kashyapi at a cost of about Rs.15 lakhs. Due to the persuasion by the TRUST, Govt. authorities constructed a 15km long WBM Road from Sawarde to Durgwadi connecting the villages with Mumbai–Goa Highway which has facilitated better movement of State Transport buses and other vehicles carrying passengers / goods.
Supply of Mangalore Tiles
The poor villagers could not afford to repair their houses mainly having thatched roofs. Quite often the thatched roofs would catch fire due to some spark, particularly in summer and the poor dweller would loose his lifetime earnings besides causing possible loss of human life. Since 1992, Trust has been providing Mangalore Tiles (about 1000 tiles per family/house) FREE OF COST. Hundreds of families spread over in 50 villages have received this assistance so far.
The assistance, however, is provided after ensuring that the preliminary requirements such as basic and necessary repairs to house have been carried out, arrangements for fitting the tiles over roof etc. have been completed and that the members of the family are well behaved, to keep the anti-social elements at bay. After the tiles are given, one more inspection is carried out to verify the end-use, i.e. to ensure that the tiles are actually used for the houses and are not sold in the market or disposed off, otherwise.
Distribution of clothes
Shirts / Trousers / Sarees are given free of charge to those employed in the Trust, three times in a year. Similarly all the villagers in Dervan and other nearby villages are given free clothing at least once in a year. Nearly ninety percent of such beneficiaries are from the backward class of the society. Besides, every year about 30,000 villagers are given free meals on different occasions.
As a measure of Healthcare, TRUST has constructed lavatories in public places in villages. This has tremendously helped, particularly the women folk, who had been deprived of the basic necessary facilities.
Mata Sou. Janakibai Ganesh Joshi Charitable Dispensary
At the Trust’s campus in Pune, medical treatment is provided at a nominal charge of only Rs. 5/- per day to the poor and needy. The Dispensary is open on all weekdays. The service is being provided to the urban poor on humanitarian grounds since 1992