giving back: the lifeline express

The Operation Theater on the Lifeline Express

Most of us live most of our lives cocooned from the realities of this world. And when we do venture onto the other side, it is armed with abstract theories and falsified charitable notions about ourselves. Some however, become a part of it, and through their efforts, lessen the pain in it.

I was introduced to Impact India Foundation, and its hospital on wheels – the Lifeline Express earlier this month. It has since filled me with much inspiration and pride on what commitment and vision can achieve.

Manned by the best doctors and surgeons from around the world, the train is nothing short of a national asset. Launched in 1991 in partnership with the Indian Railways, it has provided free medical help to over 900,000 disabled poor, restoring sight, movement, hearing and correction of cleft lips with dental and neurological treatment and more. This has been possible with the donated services of about 150,000 medical persons, and thousands of volunteers. Not just content with giving free medical help, the train also serves as a classroom to local village doctors through medical microscopy and broadcast of its OT surgeries.

Starting off as a one woman show by Zelma Lazarus, a PR professional (she was World President of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) in 1998), a model, an avid knitter and embroiderer, her sheer tenacity and never-die-attitude transformed the Lifeline Express from five donated dusty coaches into a model replicated in China, Central Africa and river boat hospitals in Bangladesh and Cambodia today.

The Lifeline Express is on public display at Platform No. 10, CST Railway Station, Mumbai, from 9-12 April, 2014, 10 am – 5 pm. If you get a chance, do go. And be inspired and feel proud too. 🙂

Left: Oxygen cylinders; Right: The dental unit

The Lifeline Express during its brief halt in Mumbai, stationed from 9-12 April, 2014 at CST Railway Station, Mumbai, before it leaves for rural Jharkhand to give free state-of-the-art medical help, to the poorest of the poor.

Note: The above post forms part of my blog’s Giving Back series which explores giving back initiatives in India.

1 thought on “giving back: the lifeline express

  1. Great article about IMPACT India’s Lifeline Express hospital train. The train relies on voluntary contributions to stay on the rails. If your UK readers would like to support this initiative, each lifechanging operation to restore sight, hearing, mobility or repair cleft lip costs just £40. For more information please visit



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