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Small Talk With Urvija Sanghvi

CHANGE leaders do great things, and often that is all we know about them. Here we want to get a different glimpse of the personalities that constitute the development space. Every month we get one leader to answer four questions, not necessarily about their work, but about themselves. This week we catch up with Urvija Sanghvi, CEO of Madat Charitable Trust.

Making affordable healthcare accessible to all is a cause that Urvija Sanghvi has always been passionate about. “Many people who are diagnosed with diseases such as cancer don’t have enough money to do the follow-up scans, tests, surgery, and chemotherapy. Along with facing a life-changing disease, they are also weighed down by the struggle for treatment. This was a problem that I wanted help tackle,” she says.

Under their flagship project, Cope With Cancer, Madat Charitable Trust provide financial support for diagnostic tests and treatments to around 150 economically disadvantaged cancer patients every month.

Small Change: What has been the most uplifting part of the journey?

Urvija Sanghvi: Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The most uplifting part of my journey has been the awareness that lending a helping hand to bring a change in someone’s life is extremely soul satisfying. To be able to offer help to patients and the caregivers when they are bogged down with physical, financial, psychological and social issues with respect to their disease and the ongoing treatment has been extremely enriching.

SC: Do you feel as a society we lack awareness about the importance of providing psycho-social work?

US: Providing psychosocial support to cancer patients as well as caregivers is crucial to help them fight it. So many cancer patients and caregivers have tons of questions, they need guidance and many don’t know how to cope with the diagnosis and the treatment. In our society, talking about providing mental health support is still a taboo. People don’t understand why it is so important. So, it’s difficult to break those barriers while ensuring that the patients get the right support, not just medical but also psycho-social.

We recognised and understood that while forming the organisation which is why we offer free 24×7 online and tele-counselling to patients and caregivers for psycho-social issues through helplines iCALL and Aasra.

SC: If you could have a superpower, what would that be?

US: To erase diseases. It’s heartbreaking to see so many people suffering – small children fighting cancer and other diseases. If I could just remove all the diseases in the world and put an end to the suffering, that would be the best superpower.

SC: What’s your least and most favourite thing about humanity?

US: My least favourite thing is the myths related to cancer. For instance, many patients and their relatives think that cancer is contagious. So, relatives hesitate when they have to be around the patient and help out and the patients think if they cook for their family, or cuddle their child or be near them then their family will also get cancer. It’s these unfounded myths that are difficult to overcome when providing them care.

My most favourite thing is seeing someone smile, especially when people are going through something as traumatic as cancer and still manage to smile – it’s heartwarming.

-Interviewed by Aisiri Amin


You can support Madat Charitable Trust in their tireless work by donating here.

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