Back in 1995, Dad with 3 other colleagues decided that they would spend one weekend every month travelling to the neighbouring villages around Mumbai and provide the local residents with free medical services. As a kid, younger than 10 years old, I wondered why dad would want to do this every month over going for a weekend trip. Over the last 20 years there have been many occasions when his Medical Camps would clash with some Family function and he would still honour his commitments.
What started off as a group of 4 people back in 1995, expanded to over a group of 40 by 2015. This group included doctors, nurses and technicians. Every single one of them volunteered their time and effort to bring medical services to those who may or may not have access to them. They had initially started with villages near Mumbai and eventually took their camps all over Maharashtra.
When dad would get back from these camps, we would all sit together at the dinner table and he would tell us stories about the people he met that day. This is where I learnt the difference between empathy and sympathy.
On 20th March 2016, less than 2 months after he passed away, his colleagues organised a medical camp in the same village (Chikli) where they had organised their first medical camp back in 1995. A staff of 6 people (2 Doctors, 2 Nurses, 2 technicians) were supposed to volunteer, we ended up with a staff of 40. Everyone who had been to one of dads camps turned up to help.
300 people from 5 villages around Chikli were informed about the camp, by the end of the day, over 1000 people were treated. Spectacles prescriptions were done and every one of those who need it will get free spectacles. Those who need cataract operations were given special slips and when they come to Chembur, their cataract operations will be done free of cost.
Over the last few years, Dad would often ask me if I wanted to come with him on a Sunday to a dry dusty part of Maharashtra or a forest belt where they would be treating Tribals and I never made time to go.
Yesterday, just over a month after he passed away, I went for my first medical camp. The people who were queueing up for treatment kept walking up to me and telling me how well they all knew my father and that he had been treating them for over 2 decades. I met grandparents and grandchildren who knew him as Dr Saheb.
Multiple vehicles carrying doctors and nurses for the Camp had these banners on their car.
Even though he isn’t around in person. He still manages to teach me a new lesson every day.
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