The hospital built by selling vegetables | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 23.09.2015
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The hospital built by selling vegetables

After Subhasini Mistry became a widow at the age of 23, she was motivated to help the poor in her community. She sold vegetables on the street and eventually built a hospital with her savings.

Hanspukur in the South 24 Parganas district of the Indian state of West Bengal is quite a famous village today, primarily because of a humble woman by the name of Subhasini. She came from a very poor family and was forcibly married to a wage laborer at the age of 12. Subhasini's husband died of illness when she was 23 because he was too poor to afford medical treatment.

After the death of her husband, Subhasini worked as a maid in various households. She didn't squander a penny of her meager income and saved whatever small amount she could, all for the sake of a dream. When her husband died her only thought had been, "I can't let everyone who is poor die like this. I must do something."

That "something" turned out to be an entire hospital. How could Subhasini have saved so much as a maid and vegetable vendor? She succeeded by pursuing her dream as if tomorrow was her last chance.

Gemüsemarkt Indien

Subhasini sold vegetables in markets like these

Subhasini used to earn five paise, only a few cents, at the time of her husband's death. Two paise would go to rent, another two paise for food and that last paisa she would save for her dream. Then she started selling vegetables and although her income slightly increased, Subhasini did not spend an extra paisa on her own comfort or luxury.

After many years, Subhasini managed to save up a lakh (100,000 Indian rupees). She bought an acre of land in Hanspukur to turn her dream into reality - a hospital for the poor. By then her eldest son Ajoy had graduated from college. He had been sent to an orphanage by Subhasini because she had been unable to pay for his education.

When Ajoy completed his studies in medicine and was a full-fledged doctor, Subhasini told him about her dream of a hospital for the poor, which was by then four decades old. Soon thereafter, Ajoy started treating the poor in a straw hut.

Ajoy's medical colleagues joined him in treating the penniless patients free of charge. Around 252 patients were treated on the very first day. Today the "Humanity Hospital" takes up three acres of land, bearing witness to the humanity as well indomitable idealism of an erstwhile child-wife, young widow, patient mother and finally housemaid and vegetable vendor by the name of Subhasini Mistry.

Mitul Kansal from the Indian state of Haryana suggested this story for DW's Local Heroes competition.

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