Mansi Shah is on a journey to give a dignified life to the terminally ill kids (VIDEO)

Mansi Shah is on a journey to give a dignified life to the terminally ill kids (VIDEO)

Pooja PatelUpdated: Sunday, June 23, 2024, 08:42 PM IST
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Mansi Shah, founder, Happy Feet Home |

Mansi Shah's Happy Feet Home provides palliative care and educational, vocational and nutritional assistance for terminally ill children.

Ever since Mansi Shah graduated, she has been sweating it out in the development sector. After working with well-known NGOs for a decade, she founded Happy Feet Home in 2014. A paediatric palliative care centre that offers free emotional, psycho-social, educational, vocational and nutritional support, this space is now a day care centre for 130 children with life-limiting conditions such as HIV, AIDS, thalassemia and cancer.    

Siddhesh Lokare, digital creator

Siddhesh Lokare, digital creator |

 At her previous job with an organisation that provided shelter for children and families who came to Mumbai for cancer treatment, Shah  observed that while many offered aid for sick children, very few came forward to help children when they had no scope of survival. 

“Not a lot of people see giving a dignified end to somebody as an impact and so I wanted to make sure that for however long terminally ill children lived, they got a dignified life — no matter how long or short a life is, it is meaningful. And so if somebody's going to die, I want to make sure that it's a life that is well lived, and it is a life that has respect in it,” said Shah. 

After several months of online research, multiple visits to hospitals, and experiencing resistance from people about her idea of setting up a centre, Shah established Happy Feet Home (HFH) in Chembur. Her organisation has four main verticals which include a home care programme, daycare programme, hospital outreach programme and community outreach programme. 

2,500 children have benefitted from Happy Feet Home's programmes

2,500 children have benefitted from Happy Feet Home's programmes |

“Our main programme is our daycare programme, which has over 130 children, where kids who need palliative care stay at the centre for the entire day,” she says. Here, their educational, vocational, mental health, nutritional and medical needs are taken care of. There’s also a nutritionist on board who designs weekly meal charts that’s best for the kids.     

Their home care programme involves taking care of kids who are not in a position to go to HFH, because either they are extremely critical, or they are in the last stages of their illnesses. “And we want to make sure that even though they can't come to the centre physically, Happy Feet Home reaches them,” explains Shah. 

A team from the NGO reaches the homes of these children, where a daily plan is chalked out to keep them engaged and happy with various activities. “We have a psychologist, a social worker and a nurse. So all the aspects of the child's life are taken care of,” she shares.  

The NGO started collaboration with Sion hospital and now also works with government hospitals in Ghatkopar and Borivali. As part of their hospital outreach programme, a team from HFH goes into the hospitals to make sure that children who are there for medicines for HIV, for blood transfusion, or if they are admitted, are positively engaged. 

For the young ones in the hospitals, these are scary experiences and so HFH creates a safe space and a good environment for them. “We also provide therapy to the caregivers and the families that come along with the children,” Shah shares. Counselling of caregivers is paramount as it takes a lot of mental trauma to live with the truth that their child may not live to be an adult. 

In the 10 years of the NGO’s operations, they have helped around 2,500 children through their various programmes. Some have gone on to become dancers, artists, fashion designers and make-up artists. “We have about 10 to 15 children who are healthy, happy and also financially independent, which means they don't need Happy Feet Home anymore. They are settled in their lives and that gives us hope and also makes us believe that our mission is much stronger,” Shah shares happily.  

Elaborating on the amazing work that Shah has been doing is digital creator Siddhesh Lokare. “Mansi is not only taking care of the children, but also enabling and empowering them to do things that these kids are passionate about. The NGO has been doing phenomenal work in terms of providing care, food and medicines to the children at the centre. It is heartening to see that these children take care of each other too and all of them together are like one big family.”         

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