Call it a perfect blend of passion and religion, Sarabjeet Singh, a Shimla-based philanthropist, selflessly takes the responsibility of providing solace to both the living and the dead.
A name to reckon with in the social circles in this quiet hill town, Singh is lovingly called by his nickname Bobby Bhai by many.
At the age of 40, when most people his age are busy eking out a living for themselves and their families, Singh is working untiringly for an extended family which he found among the sea of humanity. Under the banner of “Almighty’s Blessings”, he is providing a healing touch to countless lives even till their last journey. He helps in performing the last rites of unclaimed bodies.
His own journey has come a long way from organising voluntary blood donation camps to ensure that no one dies due to paucity of blood in Shimla hospitals, arranging picnics to bring happiness in the lives of inmates of orphanages and old-age homes in and around Shimla for more than a decade.
For the past eight years, Singh has been running a free 24×7 funeral van to help the dead in their final journey, be it night or day. The idea to run the van came at a time when even the government-run hospitals lacked such servives.
Ask him how he earns his bread and butter, he says, “My shoe business is enough for my family, who are a pillar of support for my philanthropic ventures.”
With his dream to uplift the marginalised sections of society with his services, he came up with another novel idea in October 2014 – running a free canteen offering tea and biscuits and evening meals of dal and chawal.
It is the first of its kind in the state and is run for patients and attendants visiting the Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla. The service provides respite to patients and attendants, especially the poor, who are already bogged down with the cost of treatment. “I was always pained by the plight of poor patients and attendants who often did not have money even for two square meals. Garib ka muh, bhagwan ka gullak hota hai (Mouths of the poor are donation box of god)”, says Singh.
He says many people spend money hosting langars at the temples whereas replicating such services at the hospital for the needy and poor patients would serve a more noble cause.
Singh is also making use of social media to encourage people to join this initiative and has found many people willing to help run the free canteen service.
There is something truly extraordinary about this Shimla Samaritan yet he says in all humility, “I am an ordinary person and every person can be like me. My only thought and desire is that there should not be only one Sarabjeet, instead there should be many in every corner of the country to uplift the underprivileged.”