It was in 2014 that Jasper Paul, then an engineering student, met with an almost fatal accident in Hyderabad. His car somersaulted thrice on the road, but he miraculously escaped the accident without a scratch. For the then 19-year-old Jasper, it was a moment of realisation. He counted his blessings after his close brush with death, and became determined to do something more meaningful with life.
Four years later, Jasper, a BTech graduate, runs four shelter homes for the destitute in the city, housing over 120 people, with 12 staffers working with him. He is the founder of the Second Chance NGO, that rescues the destitute from the streets who are on the brink of death. During the course of his work, 23-year-old Jasper has seen several deaths. âMany of them have died in my arms, and for many, I have conducted their last rites too,â Jasper says.
It all began two months after his near-death experience in 2014, when he saw an old sick woman abandoned on the street, says Jasper. âI was travelling through Secunderabad when I noticed an old, fragile lady lying motionless near the Secunderabad railway station. I saw her and left, but later that day realised that I saw her for a reason. I came back to the spot and on closer examination saw that she had serious injuries. She had maggots crawling out of her injuries and ants all over her body. I just couldnât let her stay and I took her and admitted her at the Gandhi Hospital,â Jasper recounts.
After the incident, the young man made a video of the woman that quickly caught pace on social media. âA lot of people started sharing the video and it soon went viral. After a few days, we got a call from the womanâs relatives after they saw the video on Facebook. They came down to Hyderabad and took her home. And at that moment, I realised I didnât want to anything but this for the rest of my life,â Jasper says.
After working with several NGOs across the city, Jasper set up his own shelter home, âSecond Chanceâ, in March 2017. Jasper has around 12 staff working with him, including a nurse and other trained non-clinical staff.
âOur services are coordinated with the city police. Itâs mostly the cops who give us a call whenever they spot a sick person on the street. We then go to the location, check their vitals, and bring them to our home. If the person needs serious medical help, we admit them at the nearest hospital. Doctors and paramedics visit our home on a regular basis for free,â Jasper says.
Jasper says that he gets a lot of calls from strangers as well to rescue people, and this means he has to first authenticate the case before his team swings into action. âWe sometimes get calls from people to rescue their own family members but we donât encourage it. We rescue men above 20 years of age and women over 50 (because he doesnât have the licence to take in younger women). As of now, I have rescued over 600 people and my four homes put together have over 120 people,â Jasper says.
A lot of people contact Jasper in search of their missing relatives, and many of them have been happily reunited with their families. Jasper recalls an incident where an elderly woman was reunited with her family, in what he describes was a mere stroke of luck.
âSecond Chance was getting featured in a magazine and for the cover picture, I was clicked sitting alongside an elderly woman from our shelter home. After the story got published, I got a call from a woman enquiring about the lady in the photograph. It turned out that she was her mother and her family was frantically searching for her for a couple of months,â Jasper recalls.
The NGO also maintains a record of the details and photographs of the rescued people in the nearest police stations. âOur NGO has been maintaining a complete database with the city police bureau of the people rescued. This has helped a lot of people who approach cops with missing complaints to easily identify their kin,â Jasper says.
As for their funding, a major chunk of the money comes through the good Samaritans on social media. Even though it was hard for the team to raise money initially, many people started supporting seeing the good work.
âNot including the salary, the monthly expenses of our inmates come close to three lakh rupees. Needless to mention the building rents. The owner of one of our shelter homes at Sainikpuri has now asked us to vacate and finding a space has become a real issue. I have even tweeted tagging government officials for a piece of land or place to run the NGO, but to no avail,â Jasper says.
Jasper says that he is determined to do something different. âIf I can continue to transform the lives of even a handful of people for the better, that is what I will continue to do,â Jasper adds.