Going Where You Think You Have No Time to Go

Life, inevitably, sends us places we don’t really want to go.  For some of us, it’s that visit to the dentist for that unwanted, but oh so warranted, root canal.  For others, it’s probably the family wedding you don’t want to attend, the off-site work at an unknown place, the transfer to a small town.  For most people, however, it’s that hospital admission – having to be admitted in hospital for an ailment you never saw coming- the expenses involved, the seemingly pointless days spent in hospital, the lack of income during those unproductive days in hospital.

While it’s easy to fuss about having to be admitted, a visit to the Government-run General Hospital in your city is bound to change your mind and keep you grateful for the kind of service you can otherwise afford when you get ill.

Our visit to the General Hospital led to some painful sights and heartbreaking moments.  With merely 24 beds, there were over 50 patients waiting in the ‘Isolation Ward’.  This is where patients with communicable diseases are admitted and, most often, people with varying stages of varying diseases made to share beds.  The concept of a ‘bystander’ or someone to help the patient is something that’s not just rare, but practically impossible for the simple reason that there aren’t people enough to care about these extremely ill patients and most often never enough beds for these people to lie down.  What you don’t see is what you might never know.

The corridor outside the Isolation Ward makes space for just three more beds and a bench.
This is where The Ashoka Tree comes in.  We share what we see so that you know more of what remains unseen to the rest of the world.  We met Mr. K.J. Peter who has dedicated his life to helping people here at the General Hospital.  Mr. Peter spends his day helping people at the Isolation Ward, feeding, bathing and getting medicines for them.  His charitable trust also runs an ambulance that helps people in need get medical aid at the hospital.  Food for these patients is organized from his home itself.  Peter, himself, would rather shy away from the limelight and fame social media could bring, preferring to stay on the sidelines telling us “funds, food and medicines are all provided by God – I have no need to ask anyone for help.” 

What we saw on our visits to the Isolation Ward, however, reminds us of how privileged we are – how much easier our lives are in comparison and how much more suffering there is prevalent in the world today. 

Does it take so much to actually do something about in a place where your very presence would help even if it means doling out food in a bowl to people you don’t know?  When you think of it really, there is nothing that can physically hold you back from going to feed patients who have no bystanders in government hospitals, reading to children in long-term Oncology Wards, or teaching local children who cannot afford extra coaching in your spare time.  And, of course, if you don't have time, there's nothing that can stop you donating a day's worth of medication for someone with no funds to treat himself.  It would certainly take even less for you to just go through your linen cupboard and find decently used bedsheets that you don't need anymore - something that would make for another patients' peaceful sleep tonight.  Take your first step forward – do something today for somebody that you otherwise think you don’t have time for.


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