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Hemalkasa Surgical Camp

April 26, 2011 divider image

Every passing year, a ray of hope breaks through the thick forests of Hemalkasa. The hope of the annual visit of the Rotary Club of Nagpur, the hope that relief from their ills is not very far; the hope that medical facilities are coming to their doorstep.

Every year, the urge to provide better services to the inhabitants of Hemalkasa is too great to resist just as the need of the Maria Tribals is far too great to be overlooked. And so, to be at Hemalkasa is to be able to serve with a smile & feel satisfied at having done something substantial & long lasting for the unfortunate.

Bhamragarh, to be more precise, the Lok Biradari Prakalp at Hemalkasa, has become a habit with members of the Rotary Club of Nagpur.

Year after year, since the year 1986, Rotarians have been going religiously for this pilgrimage; literally taking medical aid to the door step of the tribals for whom civilization is unheard of. How and when was this ‘seed of love’(concern) sown? It all started with a slide show presented at a regular meeting by a couple of city journalists, way back in the early 70’s.

Touched by the good work carried out by Baba Amte, in 1986-87 our club decided to put into practice the Rotary Theme of the year “Rotary brings hope”. So, it was decided to take hope to the tribals of Hemalkasa by organizing a surgical camp. When Dr. Prakash Amte was approached with the proposal, he was delighted and soon the groundwork started.

A team of 30 persons comprising 18 doctors, Rotarians, grain and oil merchants and others was formed and the first exploratory camp was held. The team took fifteen hours to reach their destination; the journey from Allapalli to Bhamragarh being terrible. From a ‘needle to an elephant’, everything was taken along by pooling in resources. Forty surgeries were performed. So good was the response from the tribals and so excellent was the follow-up that it indeed set into motion an annual pilgrimage.

Surgeons visiting the camp since its inception remember how they worked under limitations. They remember the helpless look on the faces of the tribals who carried their patients from far flung parts of the forest to get treated at the camp. They remember the moist eyes which conveyed gratitude for the wonders they witnessed. They remember the look which conveyed trust and faith. Today, this trust and faith has made Bhamragarh truly a place of pilgrimage.

Over the years, the number of Rotarians undertaking this pilgrimage has increased manifold. Thanks to their commitment and dedication the operation there is getting better equipped year after year. Today over 150 operative surgeries are performed in two days and about 100 IOL’s for the eyes by team of over 100 Rotarians and some non Rotarians who insist on being a part of this pilgrimage. Just as well, for the tribals do not wish to step out of the serene security of their forest life.

Getting resources for a project of such magnitude is indeed a Herculean task. Many heads work together to plan the pilgrimage and scores of hands work in unison to perform the tasks before, during and after the camp. Meticulous planning goes into making every camp a success. From carrying daily rations to the supply of blood, medical equipment and medicines to clothing and food for the patients and relatives, every minor detail is looked into.

While surgeons give of their talent and learning, the non-medicos lend their help wherever needed. So much is the dedication and commitment that it has to be seen to be believed.

Let there not be an impression that Lok Biradari Prakalp at Hemalkasa is all about medical aid only. The activities extend to education and irrigation and other domains too. A small self-supporting commune, the Lok Biradari Prakalp has acquired big dimensions from living in huts to proper buildings for schools, hospitals, hostels, warehouses and worker’s homes, LBP has indeed come a long way. Today LBP boasts of a school with a well-stocked library and a Computer room. With a view to upgrade the facilities at LBP year after year, the Club installed a Solar Cooker and Solar water heater last year. A free meal (langar) for the ailing & their attendants is provided during the Clubs’ stay at Lok Biradari Prakalp.

However, all this would not have been possible but for the contributions — monetary and in kind by well wishers at home and abroad. The sustenance of a project of such magnitude depends on the stream of contributions continuing to flow uninterrupted. Our efforts today would be but a small link in the chain to provide better facilities for the Maria tribals and help Baba Amte’s good work gain momentum.

Every years on return, we discover a new found togetherness, a new found commitment and a new found desire to give more to the people of Hemalkasa; to mankind

Together we serve to see a smile on the faces of the ailing Marias and together we smile with contentment at a job well done.

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© Rotary Club of Nagpur