This is yet another heartwarming story. Mr. Mehta started this nonprofit to provide artificial limbs and other rehabilitation aids to physically challenged people who live in poverty.
Mr.Mehta met us at the door, and walked us through the limb making factory showing us the production method and demonstrating the use of the limbs. Some of the men working in the factory were beneficiaries. One man in particular stole our hearts. Both his legs were artificial. One cannot tell this just by looking at him walk about. He can run a mile in 4 minutes and 20 sec. One of the women (a triathlon runner) in our travel group raced with him and the man won.
The limbs are fitted and the patients are provided rehabilitation therapy before they are sent home. There is no cost to the patients. They come from all over India. The patients and often their family or support person who accompany them to the hospital are provided lodging and food during the treatment. No one is turned away unless the doctors think they cannot be fitted with limbs (this happens very rarely). On average it takes 1-2 days to make and fit the limbs.
It costs Jaipur Foot US $ 45 to make one limb (compared to $8000 in the west). They produce about 400 limbs a day. In the 35 years they have been in operation they have benefited 1.2 million people (some limbs have to be refitted after a few years). Their operating budget is US $ 3.5 million and 4% of their budget covers admin cost. They run this operation with 65% donated funds, 25% grants, and 10% earned income.
One of my travel fellows asked Mr. Mehta why they won’t charge the patients a small fee to generate more earned income. By then the meeting was continuing on the grounds surrounding the premises- after we came out for the race-and needless to say we had a huge audience (those who had come to the clinic that day). Without a word Mr. Mehta turned around and went to one of the patients sitting under a tree waiting for treatment and asked him to show us what he had in his pocket (did he have any money?). The man turned his pocket inside out to show he had none.
It seems Jaipur Foot’s formula for running this operation was science, technology, and a good measure of compassion.