A LONG JOURNEY
It was in the year 1969 at a mid-summer-night conclave at a hermitage known as Vishwajyoti Ashram on the banks of river Vishwamitri on the outskirts of Baroda that a few socialists met to discuss on how to be effective in the city. I was one of them. Our leader was Shri Sanat Mehta.
When my turn came, I suggested to build a medical care centre for the poor. We were the people who had no money to build any such centre. We had everything else – talent, zeal, vision and a tendency for altruism. But these were useless for this purpose unless there was money.
In 1971, Sanatbhai and Arunaben who were still toying with the idea came to meet two young doctors of Baroda who had similar desire and thoughts. They were Dr Bhaskar Vyas and Dr Damodar Nene. Apparently to make it an influential body carrying weight in the society, they included a businessman, a corporate manager, an MLA and a saintly lady and got the public charitable trust registered. The name given was ‘Medical Care Centre’. I was included as a youth representative. Arunaben was chosen as the President and Dr P.N. Vakil as the Hon. Secretary of the trust.
The Government of Gujarat allocated a suitable plot of land in a prime location in Karelibaug area, thanks to Arunaben. Sanatbhai had now become a minister. Having secured the land, we all were in high spirits. Building plans were drawn. By this time, Bhaskarbhai and me had become very good friends. I found him to be highly enthusiastic about the hospital that we wanted to build. Meetings and visits for raising funds continued but without any success.
In 1979, the International year of the Child, we squeezed a little and passed a resolution to make it a project for a children hospital. We thought – if at all, it will be a wonderful gift to the children.
In 1982, I talked about the project to my client turned friend and took him to the site. That was Gordhanbhai Jamnadas Patel from Zambia. He said he will donate a sum of 15,000 pounds received from an insurance company on account of the death of his wife Kashiben in London. But I was greedy. I proposed to name the hospital after Kashiben if the amount could be raised to Rs 10,00,000/- This happened. Gordhanbhai joined the board of trustees.
The donors have kept this institute running very well by their generous donations and the governments with grants all these years, and the hospital which was planned for Baroda has been attracting patients from even the bordering states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The government of Gujarat and the Rehabilitation Council of India have conferred awards for excellency in services.
The brilliant doctors, full-time as well as the visiting have taken the medical services at the institute to excellent levels. They are respected and their services are appreciated by the management. All these years, the management has been, by and large, happy with the staff members and has always been striving to keep them happy.
No one should imagine that such a long journey could be without hurdles. The hurdles were overcome by the management in best possible ways. There were ups and downs. But most ups and few downs. In any case, the hospital services remained unaffected and were always a top priority.