Jaipur Foot Camp
January 6, 2013
Eyewitness Report by Bhupen Mehta for the
Indians for Collective Action (ICA) donors
Prepared on Feb 20, 2013
ICA has been co-sponsoring Jaipur Foot (JF) camp in Rajkot for last six years with local support and excellent help provided by Shri Naginbhai Jagada and the volunteers from the local chapter of Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP). The January 6, 2013 camp was meticulously organized by the local teams of devoted youth and untiring adult volunteers under the leadership of Shri Naginbhai. We were very fortunate to witness and participate in this camp for the very first time in Rajkot on Sunday, January 6, 2013.
The entire camp was funded by several donors from USA who sent their donations through ICA. The other major donors were Arpan Foundation (Jagada family) from Rajkot, Shri Pravinbhai Shimankar from Texas and Shri Bhaskarbhai Devjibhai from Bahrain. The total expenses for this 2013 camp were about 5,00,000 Indian Rupees or about US$ 10,000. The preparations for the camp started in October 2012 by advertising in several local newspapers and by sending out many posters and flyers in all of the villages and towns surrounding Rajkot. This advertisement invited applications from the handicapped persons with a proof of income, doctor’s certificate of disability, ration card for identity and a photo. These applications were screened by BVP volunteers. They selected about 120 individuals to come to Rajkot on December 23, 2012 for one day for measuring the size of prosthetics and for determining the need for tricycles, wheel chairs and other mobility devices. These persons were not able to pay for one day trip to Rajkot and were given cost of round trip transportation to Rajkot and food on December 23. They were all diagnosed for the extent of disability and measured for required prosthetics and other mobility devices. A team of Jaipur Foot technicians and experts came to Rajkot from Ahmedabad and performed these diagnosis and measurements on December 23. They selected 110 persons for receiving such devices at no cost on January 6, 2013. During this measurement phase, about 10 persons were diagnosed to need more extensive treatment and were referred to the Jairpur Foot center in Ahmedabad.
On Sunday, January 6, 2013, the amazing teams of youth and adult BVP volunteers came early in the morning to prepare the camp site with wheel chairs, tricycles and all of the prosthetics. The Jaipur Foot technicians set up their fitting clinic on site. The BVP volunteers set up the check in and documentation process to verify the registered candidates as they arrived at the site. Other volunteers organized for food and drinks for about 500 attendees and guests. The 101 handicapped persons of all ages from very young children to very old men and women with all kinds and degree of disabilities barely struggled into the camp. Many of them were helped by their friends and family members to come to the site. There were some extremely handicapped candidates who had lost both feet and hands and were literally lifted in and out of the vehicle they came in to attend the camp. Some polio patients literally dragged their bodies on the bare ground to enter the site. Many of the persons had lost their limbs either in accidents or were amputed due to diabetic conditions. Some had lost their mobility due to polio attacks in their early childhood. Each of these people was given a Jaipur Foot, arm or caliper so that they were able to walk on their own feet. The ones who got the arm were now able to use cell phones, drink cup of tea and shake hands with the newly acquired arm. Every one of them had come to the camp with their eyes and faces filled with a huge hope. At end of the day, each one of them walked out with a big smile for becoming mobile and independent person on Sunday, January 6, 2013.
This camp was the true realization of Gandhiji’s statement “Best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Every volunteer was fully engrossed in helping someone. There were 65 people who were not able to walk and were not the candidates for artificial Jaipur Foot. Each of them was given a tricycle which they can move with their hands. They drove away in their own tricycle with a big smile of happiness on their face. Some of these people are now able to earn their living due to the new mobility in their life. The Manav Sadhana organization in the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad donated 30 wheel chairs which were assembled in Rajkot for this camp. These wheel chairs were given to those who had no means of moving around. They were now able to go to various places in their neighborhood with the help of wheel chairs.
In addition to these mobility help, this camp also offered scholarships to very bright and very poor students though another ICA initiated program called Foundation for Excellence (FFE). Twenty one selected students received FFE scholarships to complete their medical and engineering college education. The Arpan Foundation also provided 215 grocery kits, foot wear, saris to prequalified women and few sewing machines to widows who can earn their own living by making and selling dresses. This camp was successful mostly because of the sincere volunteers and donors who gave their minds (MAN), bodies (TAN) and wealth (DHAN) to serve the poorest of the poor. This camp was manifestation of what many of the teachings by the Indian saints “The service of human kind is the only means by which you can serve God”. We were just very lucky to be present and be a small part of this amazing experience.
The camp was attended by several local dignitaries, leaders and several invited guests such as the Agriculture Minister of Gujarat (Shri Govindbhai Patel), Mayor of Rajkot (Shri Janakbhai Kotak), BVP President (Shri Prafulbhai Goswami), leading industrialist (Shri Paratpbhai Patel), businessman (Shri Chandubhai Shah), news column writer (Shri Vinoobhai Jagada), LIFE blood bank chairman (Shri Chandrakant Koticha), NRI donor (Shri Pravinbahi Shimankar), ICA executive (Shri Bhupen Mehta) etc.
A documentary was prepared for this event. You can see the preliminary draft version of this documentary at the following link.