Kartik and Kamakshi – A little bit of Compassion

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					           Kartik and Kamakshi – A little bit of Compassion


One kick from the Baba on the hilltop and the headaches are gone. One
proper lashing with the neem branches on the back by the Matha in the valley
– and all your spine problems go away in a jiffy.If the Fakir in the old town
gives a cut on the veins with a rusty blade until it bleeds – all the old diseases
are a thing of the past. Another Fairy gives an anointed oil and crores of
illness come to an end.


Everyday, we read and see in the media these kind of wonder doctors and
laugh to ourselves. If the same scene of the doctor lashing comes on the TV
screen in the fast forwrd mode we break into a guffaw at the superstition and
ignorance of these people who go for a cure to these doctors – being the
highly civilised people that we are.Were we ever able to look at these people
from a more humane angle! These are the people who are treated worse than
the worms and insects in a government hospital.


Not having the wherewithal to afford the costly treatment and the medicines –
they put their faith in god and try to seek a cure for their varied illness through
the divine powers or something akin to it. They are all our fellow human
beings. But, did we ever look at them with the compassion they deserve?!


Leave alone the tonics for a cure – here is an old man abandoned by his own
children – who cannot buy the salt in his pickle. There is a woman who wants
to sell her only two possessions i.e, two rams so as to marry off her daughter.
She sold her rams only to get her pneumonia treated. What about the
daughter-in-law getting her punishment for not begetting a child – from her
mother -in- law's broom stick. And have a look at the woman whose husband
gave her three children and AIDS before leaving this world. These are the
type of unfortunates who are mostly seen with these top order doctors.


Did we even think about their problems with a bit of compassion? Did we even
help them or serve them? Even if we wanted to do something for them – some
divisive force will come in the way. Caste, religion or region -- it can be
anything. But, there are some people who have provided the needed
treatment with only the poverty line as the line of division and with the heart
filled with compassion.


Beginning
He is Kartik Kalyanram. His father was an airforce officer. Kartik joined Rishi
Valley School (10 km from Madanapalle in Chittoor and founded by the well
known philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthi) as a student when he was 10
yearsold. He completed his plus two at this school itself. Later he did his
MBBS in AFMC (Armed Forces Medical College) and then MD in Aerospace
Medicine. He married Dr. Kamakshi, who has done her MD in Pathology from
Madras Medical college. They served in the air force for 17 years until the
Kargil war in 1999. Despite many invitations from many prominent institutions
in the country and from abroad (one can imagine the demand for doctors who
have done Aerospace Medicine in the days of extended field of air travel) –
they began with a desire to meet the health needs of the villagers. Since the
only villages they knew were in and around Rishi Valley – they chose this
place for their mission.


The school's principal Mr.Kumaraswamy and the director Dr. Radhika
Herzberger appreciated their good decision and gave them a small room in
the school garden (the school extends over a 300 acres). People did not
come in droves at the mention of health service being provided. Not having
enough patients to treat, these two took classes for the school children so as
to kill time. Having decided that they had come here to provide health care
and not for teaching the school children alone – they took their medical kits in
their hands and went around the villages and treated patients under the trees,
sitting on rocks. They had some art work to raise awareness in the people
about health and diseases. Slowly people started coming. Now, an average of
150 patients per day come to receive this service. Poor people come to
receive treatment here from places like Kadiri, Rayachoti, Chittoor, miles in
and around a radius of 60km.
At the very beginning of their mission, Mr. Venkatesh, an optometrist joined
them. Kartik sent him for advanced training to L V Prasads institution through
the help of a friend. Along with Venkatesh, Dr. Ramesh (a child specialist) is
also providing health care after joining the group. Now, there is an X ray unit
and a well equipped lab here. Apart from doctors, 12 non medical staff are
working here.


Mode of Treatment, Maintainence


Only people below the poverty line will be treated here. For this, the patients
need to bring either their ration card or the sarpanch's certificate. During the
first visit the patients should pay Rs 15 to register their names. They will be
given a registration number and a laminated card with their details on it. The
particulars of the disease and the treatment given will be written on a case
sheet which is saved in the file demarcated by their village name. On
subsequent visits they have to pay Rs 5 for the treatment. Most of the times,
the people who cannot pay the fees outnumber the people who can pay.
There will be concessions on the treatment and lab tests. Lab tests are done
at 50% the cost of the outside labs. Tp provide an example of the low cost of
medicine here – you can get a paracetomol tablet here for 17ps as against
Re 1 outside. (Low cost medicines are brought from Baroda. The rest they
buy locally). So for thousands of patients from the villagers who have got their
names registered – Dr. T.S. Krishna Reddy, Dr. Sobha Naveen are helping
them out on cataract surgeries. If any case requires referral to a higher centre
– they will be sent to St Johns in Bangalore. If any surgery is required in St
Johns – the patient pays what he can. The rest is paid by the centre.


The hospital opens at 8.30 a.m everyday and closes when the last patient is
treated. There is a 1 hour break for lunch. Less number of patients will be
examined on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. These days are used to
meet the maintainence responsibility. Staff salaries are paid by the school
committee. All other activities are managed with help from friends and good
hearted. Help is provided by Kartik's old friend (from AFMC) for TB
prevention; by Rishi valley old students for ophthmology treatments; by the
parents of a school student for antenatal treatment.


These doctors recognise nutritional deficiency as a major problem. They
conduct many activities to bring awareness about the nutritional needs to the
villagers – pregnant women are given iron and calcium tonics. They are also
given seed pockets with advice to plant them in their kitchen gardens and to
irrigate them with the waste water from the kitchen. Midwives used to
conducting deliveries in primitive conditions are advised on the precautions to
be taken during the deliveries.This effort has yielded results by raising the
average birthweight to 2.8 kg from 1.8 kg which was the norm before. Only
recently – a scheme has been started for the destitute old people. They are
identified and provided with tonics, vitamin tablets and 1kg packets of flour
from a roasted mixture of greengram, millets, and wheat. A scheme to help
the abandoned married women is soon to be started.


Why City
Why live in a meagre accomodation provided by the school, and share the
meals with the students – when they can as well stay in the cities abroad,
watching movies in the multiplexes and finishing pizzas and burgers? What if
you get tired of all this and go back to cities and then feel that you have
lagged behind? Kartik's answer is this --


“ We came here after making rounds of so many cities. I am lucky in having
an understanding wife and a daughter. My daughter also has an independent
personality. She is doing MA(English) now. When I was a student, I have
learnt to live without any fear, without comparing my life with others – because
of my proximity with Jiddu Krishnamurthi. When it comes to having fun –
where can you get the joy that can be had living with nature. When I get some
free time – I go on to those hills. The grass blades enchanted by the music of
the breeze; the pearl dew rolling off the jacaranda flowers; a small bird sitting
on a jacaranda tree in the aftermath of a rain. What can be more joyous?
Give more fun?

If you are in the city, you can have a Kanchi silk saree every month, an
ornament every two months. When about to say “ Why in this remote ... ?”
before the question can be completed Kamakshi calls their staff and says,
“Have you seen them all? They get many offers with better salaries in
recognition of their experience. They are not going. I am also one of them.
This is all our team work. I don't feel it is all my own. What else can be more
valuable than serving with more compassion?

This couple believe in the strenght and compassion that drives them. They
are hopeful that they will not get short of funds, their activities will continue for
ever.

How many days can you do like this?
Till we get promoted and go there – showing the sky.
Any advice to the youth?
“Ours is a great country. But poor people should get rid of divisive feelings.
Let us divide one from the other as those above and below poverty line. Let
us forget other divisions. Those above the line should show some
compassion for those below and try to bring them up above too. Help the
fellow people with compassion” -- she finished thus.

While bidding adieu to the doctor couple filled with compassion and love for
their fellow people – a feeling born out of compassionate flow of emotion -- a
thin teary film...

               Time when thrills and aches crowd over
               Time when death stretches its fangs
               Giving a heart in place of a heart
               Blowing breath to the gasping last
               The shining form of the life givers
               Their serving nature – please give us
               O God who fills every atom
Please lead us on!!

                      Gopireddy Srinivasreddy

				
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