Diwakar Lele flew to Houston from Kentucky with his wife, for her cancer treatment, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. They were overwhelmed at first arriving at a prominent medical institution in an unfamiliar city. However, with the help of the hospital staff, they were able to acculturate themselves. On the same floor his wife was being treated, Diwakar Lele met a young Indian woman who was also there for her husband's treatment. She was the one who connected Diwakar with Madan Luthra, a veteran Sewa volunteer, and a case manager at Sewa Family Services.
Diwakar Lele called Madan Luthra to talk about the challenges he was facing and how he was dealing with the situation of his wife getting treated at the hospital. Madan Luthra enquired about the food being offered at the hospital. The food system at MD Anderson was different and efficient. They did not have a fixed time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They got served the food that they ordered in about 15 minutes. Diwakar Lele did not tell Madan Luthra that he needed Indian food. But Madan Luthra contacted Sewa volunteers, and they made a schedule on an Excel sheet to designate who could provide food each day.
Jayshri Pandya, a Sewa volunteer, made a healthy food plan for Lele’s wife. The food prepared and delivered was excellent, commended Diwakar Lele. Karishma Thakkar, a GIH (Get Involved Houston) summer intern for Sewa Houston, asked how he felt about the help Sewa volunteers offered when he and his wife were all alone. Diwakar Lele said that he and his wife were so thankful for all the volunteers who drove 25-40 minutes every day to bring to them. “It was nice to have home-cooked meals by people we had never met before. This service was unbelievable and unanticipated,” he said. A few Sewa volunteers such as Mrs. Pandya, Kavita Chandwani, Madan Luthra, Mansukh Vaghela, and a few others had the chance to meet Lele’s wife who offered her own thanks and gratitude.
Aniyah Zaman, another GIH summer intern for Sewa Houston, followed up with Mr. Lele and asked him whether he was still in touch with Sewa volunteers. “Even after we returned to Kentucky, I kept updating Madan Luthra on how my wife was doing. I was sending messages once in a while, and I have also kept in touch with Mrs. Jayshri. To this day, I can't describe the feeling when Mandan-ji showed me the prepared Excel sheet. It was a wonderful experience, and an indication of the selfless service Sewa volunteers have provided. I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart for helping us in our direst need at that time."
“Even for Sewa International’s volunteers this was a new experience – supporting and offering this kind of service. Sarve bhavantu sukinaha – may all be happy – is indeed a goal that calls for us to be innovative, thoughtful, and find out who needs what kind of help, when,” says Prof. Madan Luthra.