When Napean Sea Road resident Keval found a pigeon stuck between the sliding windows in his home, he was dumbstruck. Pulling the pigeon out from between the window panes was a painful experience for both Keval and the pigeon. After a lot of fluttering of wings from the pigeon and screams from Keval, the bird was freed. To his dismay though, Keval found that the pigeon had lost its ability to fly and was limping. He called up ‘Just Dial’ and was directed to SPARSH located near in the Manav Mandir School Building.

SPARSH is the brain child of Malabar Hill couple – Maharshi and Rutu Dave, who have been attending injured and diseased birds and animals for over a decade. While Maharshi is a lawyer, Rutu is a dietician. Rutu is also actively associated with a group of dog lovers at PDP. The couple were introduced to each other at an NGO – ‘The Welfare of Stray Dogs’ where they were volunteers. They are young and highly devoted to this noble cause. When the Voice of Malabar Hills team met them, they were very humble and gave credit to Mr. Pradeep D’Souza, a bird lover himself, who is a great source of inspiration to them. It is remarkable that though Maharshi has an allergy to pigeons, it has not come in the way of his caring for them. Rutu, in effect, now runs the show and manages it.

They also have injured parrots coming to them who are attended to, nursed and freed though some have become permanent guests. Some squirrels have also found abode in the house meant for injured birds’ rehabilitation. The couple has never refused a single bird brought to them.

SPARSH follows the motto of ‘helping those who help others’. Each year they hold an NGO mela where NGOs from Mumbai as well as Gujarat get a chance to showcase and sell their products.

They have a message for our residents: Do not buy caged birds to set them free on auspicious days because the cagers do it for money and later trap more birds. Also a bird, when caged for a long time loses its ability to fly and when set free, it is either recaptured or eaten by crows. If cagers were not paid to free the birds, they would not be tempted to catch more birds. On certain holy days like the Jain Paryusan, they receive more than 30 injured birds a day which have been freed by cagers for money.

Maharshi wishes that residents give some share of their time and effort in taking care of the city’s birds and animals. The couple also has a dream of an ‘Animal Farm’ in a housing project away from Mumbai where children can enjoy the company of horses, dogs and other animals, and where the animals are properly taken care of. He also commented that he has never once been bitten by dogs or birds, just once, by his pet dog!

For more information on SPARSH and its activities visit www.sparshtrust.org or email sparshtrust@gmail.com


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