India cancer survivor brings joy to destitute children

Media captionMark Rego explains why he helps out with childnre’s charities

Mark Rego is a popular pub quiz master in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

Glass in hand – and indeed sometimes an entire bottle – he is the life of the party, dancing and joking with patrons as he takes them through his questions.

But he is more than an energetic quiz master.

Mr Rego was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, an incident that, according to him, changed his entire outlook on life.

“I made a bargain with God,” he told the BBC.

Wanting to make a difference in people’s lives, he now helps raise funds for a number of charities that work with underprivileged children, orphans and cancer patients.


Unsung Indians

This is the second article in a BBC series Unsung Indians, profiling people who are working to improve the lives of others.

More from the series:

The doctor who delivers girls for free


According to Mr Rego, “giving away your spare money” is not really charity.

He spends a lot of time at the Jeevarathni Foundation – a home for destitute children in Hosur, near the border between the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

As we drive into the lovely old colonial farmhouse where the foundation is located, the children come running out to the playground.

They are mostly from poor backgrounds, some are orphans and others have parents who cannot unable to take care of them.

A few were rescued from the streets where their parents had left them to beg.

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As soon as they see Mr Rego, the children demand an impromptu music session

Image caption

The children are mostly from poor backgrounds, some are orphans and others have parents who cannot take care of them anymore

As soon as they see Mr Rego, the children demand an impromptu music session, and he is quick to oblige.

Meena Prochanska, who runs the charity, told the BBC that Mr Rego was a big influence on the children.

“Many of them want to grow up to be like him; especially all the little boys want his outlandish hairdo,” she said.

Mr Rego, who enjoys an excellent rapport with the children, promises the boys that he will make sure that they get the spiked, bleached hairdo like his, but only if they do well in their upcoming examinations.

As they gather around singing songs about animals and nature, it’s hard to miss his energy – and the happy faces of the children as they dance to his tunes.


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