What does it take to raise yourself out of a life of poverty and deprivation and become a successful professional? It takes grit, perseverance and a little help from friends. The rags to riches (not just in terms of money) tale of Dr Suwas Darvekar, featured on the Humans of Bombay Facebook page, is an inspiring lesson in how to live life.
“My father met with an accident while we were growing up and became visually impaired which put our entire family in a state of poverty… it was difficult to even have one square meal a day,” Dr Darvekar says in the post, shared on Thursday evening. Even though the family was hard pressed for cash, Dr Darvekar always managed to pay his school fees thanks to his teachers and friends.
From studying under streetlamps to working odd jobs for some extra money, Dr Darvekar did his best to put himself through school. However, in class 12, he almost lost a year because he was short on the fees by Rs. 50. “As I was walking home, I met a friend at the bus stop and as soon as I told him my situation, he removed a 50 Rupee note then and there and said ‘this never happened, you owe me nothing,'” he says on Facebook.
The support for this former slum-dweller continued until he became a practicing dentist and started his own clinic. So now, after years of help, he’s decided to give back to the community.
You must read the entire post below to know more about Dr Darvekar and the work he’s doing now.
Humans of Bombay
“My father met with an accident while we were growing up and became visually impaired which put our entire family in a state of poverty…it was difficult to even have one square meal a day. I was always a good student and had the good fortune of having a sympathetic headmaster at my school, who understood my situation. Everyone in school would have those shiny black shoes, but I was allowed in my tattered chappals, all because I was desperate to learn. Late at night, you would find me reading by a street light while the rest of the people in my slum slept.
Throughout my journey I’ve had many angels who have helped me. From my teachers being sympathetic, to people offering to may my fees…I always scraped through. Ofcourse, it wasn’t always easy. Being from a background where I couldn’t even afford proper meals, my uniform would be torn, my chappals would have holes in it, the other children who were from well off families made fun of me. Even so, I pushed on and chose to look at the good side of life. Once, in the 8th grade a senior of mine came upto me and said, ‘do you want a school uniform?’ and I nodded…the next day he got me a brand new uniform…and it was these incidents that i hung onto.
Over summer I would work at petrol pumps and factories to earn some extra money but when I was in the 12th standard I was 50 Rupees short of the fees (which was 150 Rupees back then). The admissions officer said I would have to lose a year and I was heartbroken. As I was walking home, I met a friend at the bus stop and as soon as I told him my situation, he removed a 50 Rupee note then and there and said ‘this never happened, you owe me nothing.’
After my 12th, I interviewed for my dentistry and got accepted in my first round because I was very strong academically. On hearing that someone from the slums has made it through a medicine entrance exam, an MLA from Kurla decided to pay my fees. After this, an NGO called EOTO sponsored my equipment for the next few years and that’s how I became a dentist.
I began working and eventually bought my own space and started my own clinic…and that’s when I thought it’s the perfect time to give back to the universe, all that it has given me. I started Charitable Dentist Organisation which charges nothing for treatment, from the under privileged. Seeing that a lot of people had oral cancer because of Gutka, I began to spread awareness about this issue to slums.
Recently, I bought a piece of land in Dahanu, where I hold free different medical camps with my doctor friends for the underprivileged and tribal people. From gynacs, to cardiologists we’ve all come together to help people who cannot afford our services. My focus was also always to help educate…education has transformed my life and I wanted that for as many children as possible. Over the years, I’ve distributed over 4000 shoes to children who can’t afford it…just so that they’re never removed because of attire.
So from the small boy who went to school in a torn uniform and chappals…I’m here today, a dentist… trying my best to give back to the world, that has given me so much.”