HemalKasa and Dr Amte a tale of transformer and changemaker

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Hello Friends,
We took an unusual longer break but have come with an excellent article you should not miss. Credit for this article goes to our friend Rajesh Kamath, co founder , More Than HR Global (MTHRG ) and soon MTHRG will have session on path breaker  with such speakers. Visit to know more regularly.

*NIPM 25th Naval Tata Memorial Lecture*

Padmashree Dr Prakash Baba Amte
*How to Serve Humanity for Upliftment of Society*

1st November 2017, IMC, Mumbai

1. The difficulty in the village of Hemalkasa was tremendous. Not only was it remote with no roads and no power, the tribals were extremely backward, with orthodox practices and with a dialect that was nowhere close even to Marathi. Dr. Mandakinitai Amte managed to create a dictionary of some commonly used words with some help of district officials, for interacting with the tribals.

2. The tribals used to go to the witchdoctors even in the worst circumstances. There were several illnesses when those quacks couldn't help. Yet, it was difficult for the Amte's to get patients.

3. The first patient was one rejected by a quack because his case was bad. He not only had attack of epilepsy but had also suffered from burns. The Amte's cured him in just days.

4. The second one was someone who was carried on a mobile cot over kilometers by tribals. He was unconscious and it was hard to even diagnose as communicating with tribals (who carried him) was so difficult. But the Amtes figured out that it must be a case of celebral malaria as mosquitoes were abundant and managed to cure him quickly to such health, that the patient walked back 30 kilometers with the cot on his head. This became an advertisement for the Amtes.

5. The 3rd patient was a victim of a bear attack and it was so bad that the scalp was torn and hanging from the skull and the eyes were punctured. The tribal's incredible tolerance of pain was so high that Dr Amte actually stitched back the scalp without local anesthesia (there were no facilities back then). The man went back cured but later died of starvation because he couldn't hunt for his own food due to starvation. This deeply distressed the Amtes.

6. Another example of the tribals' tolerance for pain was that one patient with 106 degrees fever walked for 4 days and 150 Kms for treatment. Luckily he was cured back to health in hours using basic treatment by the Amtes. All these initial successes helped them gain confidence of the tribals.

7. But the Amtes knew that this wouldnt be sufficient to uplift them. So education was critical - a school was started in 1976. But it initially failed miserably as tribals founds reasons why not to send children to school.

8. However, with great efforts, Amtes were able to get just 13 students in the first year. But one student went on to study in Nagpur Medical College and finally become an MD doctor. That buoyed the school progress.

9. Thereafter the students increased and more than 10 of them have gone on to become successful doctors and lawyers. Over 200 have become Teachers.

10. There were many challenges overall. For instance the abject poverty of tribals. The Amtes, as doctors, recommended the patients to take tablets after consuming meals. But where was the money for meals? The Amtes started cooking rice and Dal for many daily.

11. The tribals were great at living as community. The Amtes gradually got as many as 100 volunteers, some of whom also came from the cities.

12. After the Marathi movie on Dr Prakash Baba Amte was released, the number of visitors have gone up tremendously. Every day, over a hundred visitors come to Hemalkasa.

13. How did the animal farm come about? One day the Amtes noticed the tribals were carrying two monkeys they had killed (presumably for food) on sticks. One of the monkey corpses was pregnant and still had a baby alive who could be seen hanging out of the womb. The Amtes convinced the tribals to spare that baby in return for rice and Dal.

14. In similar way, they coaxed the tribals to spare all the young ones and bring them to the Amtes. There are now over 100 animals (mostly wild animals) who live as family with the Amtes. In early days, these creatures used to accompany the Amtes during their morning walks.

15. Dr Prakash Amte said that these animals are used for educational purpose too. For eg. The students can easily identify all kinds of snakes now.

16. These animals understand the language of love. It is civilized people who consider them to be dangerous. Even Dr Amte's 1 year old grand daughter has a snake around her neck and there are 30 deer feeding around her.

17. The Amtes shunned publicity for 30 years but after the movie, many young people have been inspired. They meet them and then start similar great projects all over Maharashtra for eg. In Beed district.

18. It is rather strange but Hemalkasa was the outcome of his father Baba Amte taking them out for a 3 day picnic where he showed the kids (Prakash and Vikas) the state of the Madia tribals and wished aloud that something be done to uplift them. He did not have to even request - Prakash became a doctor on response and moved there after marriage (his wife had no clue about Baba's iconic status, it was just love and Devotion to her husband that made her shift too)

19. Dr Prakash Amte shared that the one time that he got a very bad snake bite was not the snake's fault but his own as he had opened the snake's mouth too wide to show his fangs without realizing. The entire poison sac was emptied into Dr Amte. Luckily he could come back to health after being hospitalized and looked after by a team of doctors on Nagpur.

20. Some principles for social work :
A. Minimize your needs
B. Avoid public/ media glare
C. Provide Nirapeksha Seva (expect not even a thank you in return)

21. Dr Amte shared how they used to initially feel frustrated when after saving lives with such difficulty, the tribals would walk away without any expression of gratitude. But they soon realized that it was because the tribals lived in community where they helped each other without expectation - where was the need for Thanks then?

22. Working with scores others to make a change is not difficult. When civilized society, there are ego issues. But the Amtes accommodate volunteers and their egos without bitterness. So even volunteers later realize their own errors and correct them.

23. Times are changing - villagers now don't run away from education - in fact they demand education. There are many schools!

Heartfelt Gratitude to Dr Prakash Baba Amte and Dr Mandakinitai Amte for inspiring us no end! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳

Watch the document on Dr Amte

Thank you NIPM and Organizing Team
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