My place of origin is in the Marathwada region, where water shortage & drought, Earthquake is the first instance familiar story to our society. Our village is Deolana & Debhegaon (Taluka Kannad; District Aurangabad) located within a 10kms radius of the World Heritage site-The Ellora Caves.

Earthquake of  Marathwada!!!!

This needs a special mention here as it’s so relevant when the name of the Marathwada region comes.

30th September 1993 is a “black day” not just for Marathwada but for the entire mankind. More than 10000 people lost their lives, 30000 and above were injured and 52 villages were destroyed and rendered homeless because of the earthquake with epicenter at Sastur-Latur.

I visited the quake site the next day with my friends and we stayed back for giving helping hands for support and rehabilitation of people in distress. We did every possible thing for relief operations over here. More than help taking out the dead bodies under the rubble and serving disabled ones, participating in everything that was humanly possible. Working here was a self-driven task for serving our region in critical times. 10 days of mine here changed my entire life and the vector of my thought process. To this date, it keeps that fire flame “on” inside me and reminds me to stay committed to the promises made for society.  Ever since I know and realized the same later after talks with the geriatric age members, the major challenge in major parts of Marathwada is getting drinking water with plummeted groundwater levels, dry wells, and hand pumps running dry within three months of the monsoon and poor farm yields. Throughout my entire career, I have been witnessing these same things in our village and areas around and this had caused me a constant feeling of distress.

As we moved on in our careers, the constant distressing question was “what I can do about this and not just only about the water issue”? Here I know the lives and dreams revolve around water though. I started thinking a little more beyond water and how can I support my own neighborhood and the surrounding community’s holistic development.

I came up with the idea of forming a charity foundation-a Trust wherein, I would put some part of my own earnings first and deliver something substantial before seeking help from others or ask others to plunge in. With consistent efforts, various projects were implemented at a personal level for more than 5 years before even registering the Trust.

The key challenge initially was breaking the ice with villagers and all Gram Panchayat members for their unwillingness to unite.

We, the family of six doctors at home and with a collated ambition for repaying back to the society are steadfast in our role. Staying dutybound, we all have been putting our heart and soul in various projects in our village and neighborhood.

Being a doctor myself my major initial focus was always on improving hygiene standards and conduct health care awareness sessions blended with the implementation of successful interventions to fight on bringing back the school dropouts to school, fighting against the evil of child marriage, tree plantation drives, the campaign against children’s addiction to tobacco and many more programs. We would arrange for hospitalisation and treatment under charity or financial aid for village locals for various illnesses at the tertiary medical institutions in Mumbai.

My brother Dr. Sanjay Surase, who is a Medical Superintendent at the state government’s largest health Institution – JJ Hospital and Grant Medical College has been in sync with me on various health-related plus other activities. His pivotal role and support (of course in the government framework) helped us get the permission or a sanction for our village pilgrimage into “B” category from the “C” category, help coaptation and harmony of villagers with the Sikh community in building Gurudwara in our village (First in the entire taluka), getting a sanction of PHC for my village fulfilling all required official requirements, staying bridge for some projects under Rural Development (Gram Vikas) Ministry and Urban Development(Nagar Vikas) Ministry.

My daughter Ms. Soniya Surase is a Management graduate and is one of the Directors in this Trust (registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act,1950-BOM.XXIX of 1950-Trust Registration no-E-0035146-GBR-with 12AA and 80G Approval number-CIT-Exemptions/Mumbai/80G/2020-21A/1016B).

Soniya leads the education projects, career development & upliftment of underprivileged students, Youth Empowerment, Animal Care and plays a key role in project identification, impact assessment, implementation and overall operations of the trust.

She is very passionate about pets and is closely associated with Stray Animal Care and Welfare projects in addition to the charted activities.

Being a resident of Mumbai since 1999, got me connected to good influential people from various walks of life.  Plus, due to my Medical profession, I got an additional advantage of meeting up with some top notches too!  This made me and the villagers believe that I shall be of help in getting the government projects landed and funded. I started putting more energy day by day in getting help from the local government officials, Tehsildars, ZP Members, MLA’s, Collector, Municipal Commissioner, Local police officials to work on a multitude of developmental activities related to our villages and some nearby ones too. This helped me gain the confidence of the villagers and of the natives around.

I have witnessed and seen this to date, the villagers and naturally their children have truncated and limited vision about their education and career aspirations. They never think beyond 10th /12th /BA/MA/ITI/D. Ed/B. Ed/M. Ed in line with the education and the job they dream of the most is either being a school teacher in the same village or being a bus conductor/bus driver or contest Gram Panchayat or some local elections.

They don’t even realize their own potential; they can attain a different height with a focused approach and proper guidance. They have fear and inhibitions of administrative local language and unfathomable fear of English language. We realized that just providing them with the reading material or education support material will not help. We plan to inculcate self-reading habits, personality development and conduct awareness sessions on career options, digital technology, provide internet connectivity, desktops and laptops.

We empower them to be self-reliant for their own transformation to succeed in future walks of their life making a long-lasting impact on them and their family’s quality of living.

My regular interactions, attending the general meetings with the village think tank to extend support for various activities were gaining the desired momentum.

We successfully carried out missions like local river widening, creating KT pattern water reservoir’s, Tree plantations, Construction of Crematorium, restructuring school rooms, rebuilding school toilets, common toilets for villagers, school library, giving equipment for the school laboratory, water kiosks, water dispensers, distributing school uniforms, school stationery, supply of sports equipment, providing uniforms for NCC cadets, Scout Guides, providing RO plant, building open-air gymnasium, developing community cultural hall, etc.

The successful implementation of grass root level projects, interventions, systematic strategy were the core pillars, which helped us gain the confidence and cognizance of villagers and our acceptance, that we dream something with a vision, commitment, sustainable efforts, difference for transformation which is in the best interests of our village and villages around.

India won’t be called a developed nation unless the all-around development of villages is focused on. There is a vast level of rural-urban divide. We all need to come ahead in bridging this gap and start owning the responsibility towards our own villages and help the country achieve higher indices on variables like health, sanitation, safety, lawfulness, education, economic growth and happiness.


Dr.Vijay Gajanan Surase

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