A huge langar (kitchen) was erected on Dec 1 to mark the first anniversary of Rotary Ashray, a hostel for cancer patients and their attendants built by RC Shimla, RID 3080, at a cost of ₹3.5 crore. This kitchen will be used to cook and distribute over 1,000 food packets to the patients admitted at the IGMC, the state-owned oncology hospital, and their attendants.
DG V P Kalta, the project chair, conceived the shelter home in 2010 when he was president of RC Shimla. “Most of the cancer patients and their families suffer great hardships, for, apart from the treatment cost, it is difficult to get accommodation in Shimla where tourists visit throughout the year,” says Kalta. But the club had to wait for five years to get the patch of land, around 440 sq metres, okayed by the state government after environmental clearance. “It took more than five years to finish construction, as the work had to be done over a nullah (stream) and during cold months in Shimla it is difficult to get the cementing done,” he says. Now, Rotary Ashray, a four-storeyed building, is just 50 metres from the cancer hospital and “has become a sought-after place for the patients.”
While the ground and first floors are for parking (35 cars), the other floors have 22 rooms and two dormitories. “The hostel can accommodate 32 patients and their attendants at a time. We charge ₹250, ₹600 and ₹800 a day for a dorm bed, double-bed and triple-bed rooms respectively,” he explains.
This project has been done in partnership with the CSR arm of SJVN, a state-owned hydroelectric firm, which donated ₹1 crore; Tulsi Ram Bhagirath Ram Memorial Charitable Society (TRBRMCS) chipping in with ₹1.5 crore; and members of RC Shimla contributing ₹85 lakh through its charitable trust. State urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj, local MLA and Shimla MP Bimla Kashyap had donated ₹5 lakh each for the project. “We have set up a six-member panel — three Rotarians, including me, and three from TRBRMCS to run the cancer hostel efficiently,” says Kalta. Modern amenities — centralised heating, power back-up, a small kitchen with an induction stove, utensils in each room, and a subsidised canteen — make Rotary Ashray a comfortable lodge for patients.
Lobhzang Dolma, 34, a patient from Spiti village in Himachal, feels “at home here with all my needs taken care of, right from food to daily essentials.”