It has been almost a year and a half since two enthusiastic entrepreneurs from Mumbai in India, Mansi Shah and Abhishek Tatiya, started work on their dream of opening India’s very first children’s hospice. Long days, endless nights, an insane amount of thinking, marathon meetings, shameless networking and countless questioning finally came to fruition on14 August 2014.Yes, Happy Feet Home is up and running! The long wait is over!They welcomed their first 6 children from the Sion Hospital on Thursday 14 August. While 2 children were referred, 4 more came with them which necessitated getting an ‘on the spot’ referral by the social workers and the doctors at the department.Mansi Shah relates that the walk from the hospital to the centre was really interesting as the children kept asking lots of questions about what they will do, what they will get to see and what activities were planned for them. When asked what they would like to do, one boy in an extremely enthusiastic tone said, ‘mujhe khoob saarimastikarnihai..’ which means: “I want to have a lot of fun and I want to play!”

Once at the Centre, everyone sat in a circle and introduced themselves and before long puzzles were being put together; memory games were played and the time flew by. The Centre was beaming; children chattering away and loud giggles were heard throughout the day. “What really stayed with us was the look on the faces of the parents and the caregivers. The gleam in their eyes was something to watch out for!” says Mansi.

As the children left one after the other, they were already planning their next visit and what they would like to do the next time they came here. One of them even said that they would love to learn to speak English.

Asked to comment on their feelings after this momentous day, the two people who have brought the Happy Feet Home to life had this to say: Mansi Shah: “I don’t know what the children and the parents took away from here, but I surely was moved beyond words could ever explain. I kept having flashes of all the hard work that has gone in, and all the amazing people who have helped us see this day today.”

Abhishek Tatiya: “When the children came in, I just wanted to do nothing but see them play, and I did. It was a sight for me as I could see the happy faces of children and their caregivers, and then I said to myself, ‘Yes, I am happy and content to see this flash of smiles all around’.”

To learn more about Happy Feet Home and see how you can support Mansi and Abhishek, you can visit their website at www.happyfeethome.org and follow them on their Facebook page.

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