I am Divya and I was born and brought up in Hyderabad, India. After finishing my bachelors in 2007, I started volunteering at an organization called “Make a Wish Foundation India”.

Make A Wish Foundation – India

In 1995, Uday and Gita Joshi took their little boy Gandhar who was suffering from Leukemia for treatment to the USA. Gandhar agreed to go only on the promise that he would get to visit the Disney Land. In the course of his treatment, Make-A-Wish Foundation® volunteers met the Joshis and went about fulfilling Gandhar’s wish in a way beyond his imagination. His sister, Bhargavi was specially flown in from India by the foundation to join the family on a 6 day memorable trip of Disneyland®. Gandhar passed away soon after their return to India. Inspired by the joy and magic that the “wish experience” had brought into their lives in a difficult time and in the memory of their little boy, the Joshis were determined to bring the same wish experience to children with life-threatening illnesses in India. Thus, the Indian affiliate was established in 1996 and since then wishes have been granted to children across the country and Gandhar thus lives on – each time a wish in India comes true!

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when I and Rajni Aunty (another volunteer with whom I worked) went to the NIMS hospital cancer ward for children. It was there, I met a 10 year old child named Yogesh.  He had a charming face, the sweetest smile and the bright eyes which can lit up the room. We sat with him and chatted for some time.  He was so cheerful, telling us all about his likes, adventures and hobbies. We asked him what his ambition was; he instantly said “I want to be a Police Officer like my Granddad and dad (who died in an encounter)”.  We were so surprised to see a 10 year old have such a firm ambition. He said “As soon as I get out of this hospital I’ll exercise, study hard and one day be like my Dad”. I can never forget his face when he said these words, he was beaming with joy.

We at ‘Make a Wish’ generally visit a kid twice or thrice to know his inner most desire. But that day after we were done with talking to all the children, we met the oncologist on our way out.  He was a very kind doctor, he was inquiring about all the kids and specially about Yogesh.  We said he wants to be a police officer. Well the doctor said “When are you going to fulfill his wish then?” we said it’s a long procedure; we had to take permission from the concerned authorities to let Yogesh become a real Police Officer for a day. The doctor said “Please do whatever you have to do in two days, he barely has that” We were so shocked to hear that. He looked so cheerful, healthier comparatively (though his hair was all gone and had chemotherapy marks on his forehead). We rushed back to the Make a Wish office and they did their best to get the papers ready. We went to the police station, to find a volunteer who can accompany us to the hospital but they said they will take at least 2 working days. My Parents knew someone in the police department and we tried going through them but however hard we tried it was going to take more than a day. But Rajni Aunty and I knew we couldn’t afford to take that chance.

We searched for places that would rent or sell kids police uniforms but we couldn’t find anything for a 10 year old as Yogesh was tall for his age. Whatever we found was only for kids around 6 years old or less. Then we thought lets make a costume for him and we went to a tailor who had khaki color school dress and we persuaded him to stitch the flaps and give it to us in couple of  hours. We bought stars, a whistle and stitched them to the dress and also a police hat, we rushed the same day to the hospital with the dress and some Video games.

On our way to the Children’s ward we were wondering how we can make this special for him. We found a few policemen patrolling in the hospital premises and we requested one of them to come with us and told him about Yogesh. He was so accommodating; he instantly agreed and not only did he come with us but also helped the boy to get dressed and showed him how to salute. We took pictures with Yogesh as a police officer and with the police man too. Since we knew the urgency, the next day we rushed to the hospital to give the boy his pictures. Instead we met his mother who told us that the boy was no more but she thanked us for fulfilling his wish she said “He was so happy that he was talking about you ladies all the time and he insisted he wore his uniform to sleep and he passed away in his sleep”.

It was a life transforming experience for me. Though Yogesh is not anymore his memory still remains in my heart. I can never forget the warrior spirit he had. Whenever I am down or discouraged I think of Yogesh, the wonderful child and I feel encouraged to face this world again and say to my self “When Yogesh could fight cancer with so much hope, I can and should fight my disappointment”.

Divya

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