Over the past few weeks, Parsi Times has been the forerunner in appealing to the Community to come forward and donate funds towards the repairs and restoration of the Gamadia Boys Hostel at Tardeo, Mumbai, which has been in urgent need of repairs as it has been greatly inconveniencing young Parsi residents. Parsi Times is delighted to state the fruition of this effort with a remarkable response received from the community – the restoration work to repair Gamadia Boy’s Hostel commenced auspiciously on Parsi New Year, 17th August, 2017! The event was inaugurated by BPP Chairman, Yazdi Desai along with Trustee Kersi Randeria, who spearheaded this exercise. The donors, Hostel staff, well-wishers and Trustees Armaity Tirandaz and Viraf Mehta were also present. The renovation’s inauguration began with the garlanding of the photograph of Prophet Zarathustra, followed by the garlanding of the late Founder and donor, Seth Behramji Hormusji Sorabji’s photo. This was followed by the auspicious coconut-breaking.
BPP has been able to raise commitments for funds worth Rs. 45 lakhs. With a keen eye on the budgets, Phase 1 commences with the refurbishing of the entire toilet/bathroom block, including the complete breaking down, structural repairing, plumbing and internal/external painting of this block. Phase 1 is deemed to be completed within four months, with a buffer of an additional 2 months. Addressing the gathering, Yazdi Desai appreciated those who took on the responsibility leading this exercise to success, “With Kersi Randeria leading this project from the front, I am sure we will have significantly restored a good part of this hostel during the first phase, within the next four to six months.”
Desai acknowledged and thanked the donors, who made the renovation possible, lauding especially a generous Zarthosti (who requested anonymity) who donated a large amount in memory of his parents.
Filly Bapuna, an ex-student of Gamadia Hostel, keen to see the project take off for many years, donated personally as well as is helping raise funds for the BPP by collecting donations from numerous ex-hostelites.
Another major donor, the young Marzee Kerawala’s donation was applauded by all for his generous contribution.
The brainchild of Trustee Kersi Randeria, this exercise of public-appeal was an attempt at raising funds from the community at large and has succeeded in doing so, setting a positive precedent for future projects, which are stalled due to paucity of Trust funds. Says Kersi Randeria, “In the past, there was this notion that the current Trustees believed that the solution to the problem of liquidity-crunch lay in selling houses meant for the poor. However, I am keen to explore other possibilities including raising donations from the community – which is how this project is now advancing. The BPP will provide monthly reports to the community accounting for the usage of the funds collected. We are grateful that the community has been so forthcoming and helped start off Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 is still in need of funds and I continue the appeal to our Community to donate towards the second phase – immaterial of the size of the donation – BPP welcomes all denominations and will provide official acknowledgments of the same.”
Phase 2 will comprise revamping hostel rooms from the inside, infrastructural developments and providing new amenities including beds, mattresses, pillows, a new TT table, water coolers, etc. An approximate funding of Rs.15 – 20 lakhs would need to be raised, for which, once again, the BPP seeks the participation and support of the community.
Speaking on the occasion, 74-year-old, superintendent and resident manager, Jehangir Mandviwala expressed, “I’d been repeatedly approaching the BPP for years on end to look into the refurbishment of this Hostel but nothing came of it until I approached Kersi Randeria, and within just a month, he delivered on his promise of helping us! This is happening today, all thanks to the initiative and the efforts of Kersi. I’m grateful that this initiative has been taken as this hostel houses young Parsi boys from all over the country who stay here while they are in Mumbai – it has really made a difference to a lot of lives.”
The primary donor, a Zarthosti who requested anonymity, on reading the appeal in Parsi Times, approached BPP Trustee Kersi Randeria and BPP CEO Cawas Panthaky. An extremely knowledgeable professional who understands the intricacies of civil repairs, he expressed that he had been a hostelite himself (though not a resident of Gamadia Hostel) and showed an active interest in this project and committed a huge sum of money in the memory of his late parents.
Donor Filly Bapuna said, “I’ve been a hostelite at Gamadia boy’s hostel from 1983 to 1989, as I’m from Madhya Pradesh. This was my home away from home. Though all of us ex-hostelites came from different parts of India, our bonding grew here. Our foundations were laid here, this is where we took off from, and hence I feel it essential to give back to the Trust whose benefits we had once reaped, so as to provide for the generations to come.”
Donor Marzee Kerawala said, “I have done my complete Navar, Martab and passed my SSC examinations from Athornan Boarding Madressa, Dadar which provides lodging, boarding and education, totally free of cost to all its students. The institution runs on charity and donation corpus from members of our Parsi community. Once I got married, I had applied to BPP for housing, where I was allotted an ownership flat at highly subsidised rate in Panthaky Baug Parsi colony. My wife too, has been extremely encouraging towards giving back to the community. I am one of the many beneficiaries of BPP and today, I am doing reasonably well in my professional life, which is why I want to give back to the Trusts and the Community which have always been there for us throughout. I believe that life shouldn’t be only about taking – the real joy is in giving back to the community. I personally ensure that part of my earnings go towards a good cause.”
The architectural work for this project is being undertaken by the young and successful architect, Hanoze Mistry of HMD Architects, completely pro bono, while the construction work will be handled by ACE contractors. This is just phase one of the renovation, the hostel will require necessary arrangements for its maintenance and upkeep post the renovation.
“Since the ultimate aim of running any philanthropic institution should be self-sustainability to ensure that this facility is extended down the generations, we want to explore the possibility of converting some of the rooms into paid rooms. These will be offered to those who come from a financially stronger background and prefer the friendly hostel environment, but who can afford to pay a comparatively higher rent than the current Rs. 2,000/- for six months paid by the hostelites. This would be one possible avenue to make it a self-sustainable model. Alternately, we can also consider allowing the boys to stay for a couple of years more after completing their education or completing their maximum seven year stay – against a payment of a higher amount, as yet another alternative to complement this model,” adds Kersi Randeria.
For over 80 years now, the Gamadia Boys Hostel has been providing a safe haven (boarding and lodging) at extremely subsidised prices, to all our young Parsi/Irani boys, especially those who come in from India’s rural and small towns, with ambitions of studying and making a successful career in Mumbai, and thus it is imperative that the structure and services provided are up to the mark.
Those who would like to participate in this noble venture and contribute towards Phase 2 of the project are requested to write your cheques in the name of: Parsi Punchayet Bombay. For any details or clarification, email at: email@example.com. Kindly note, that just like Phase 1, all donors of Phase 2 will be recognised by putting up plaques honouring the donors. Areas will also be ear-marked for larger donations.
Picture Courtesy: Farokh Mojia