Palak Muchhal - Charity Work - 1997–2000

1997–2000

At times..., but then, it dawns on me that even if I lose my childhood, it's okay. Playing with friends in not more important than saving a life.

—Palak Muchhal (in 2007)

Muchhal became a member of Kalyanji-Anandji Litter Star, a group of young singers, when she was four years old. During the Kargil War of 1999, when aged seven, she spent a week singing at shops in her home city, Indore, to raise funds for the families martyr Indian soldiers. Her efforts received substantial coverage in Indian media and she raised 25,000 rupees. Later that year, she sang to raise funds for victims of the 1999 Odisha cyclone.

Her decision to use her voice to help others was triggered when she saw poor children using their clothes to clean train compartments. Around the same time, teachers at Nidhi Vinay Mandir, an Indore based school, approached Muchhal and her parents with a request for a charity show to raise funds for their pupil, Lokesh, who was suffering from a congenital heart defect. His father was poor footwear shop-owner, earning 50 a day and was unable to bear the 80,000 cost of heart surgery. Muchhal and her parents agreed to arrange a show and in March 2000, she used a street vendor's cart as a stage for the event and collected 51,000 towards the cost of surgery. The attendant publicity prompted a Bangalore-based cardiologist, Devi Prasad Shetty, to operate on Lokesh free of charge. Muchhal's parents gave advertisement in local newspapers so that idle funds can be used for heart surgery of some needy child like Lokesh. The outcome of this was a list of 33 children in need of heart surgery.

A series of charity shows were arranged later in that year, from which 225,000 were raised. This money was used to provide heart surgery for five children in Bangalore and Indore hospitals. To help Muchhal in her efforts to save lives of children at relatively low cost T. Choithram Hospital of Indore halved the cost of surgery from 80,000 to 40,000 and one of its surgeons, Dhiraj Gandhi, decided to waive his fee for cases brought in by Muchhal.

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