There are some remarkable people scattered across the globe and Dr. Ramana Rao is one of them. Since the day after he graduated from university with his degree in medicine (MBBS) he has been on a mission to help as many people as possible. He was so eager to start serving people. Money was never his driving force. “It’s only a doctor who can get an opportunity to help people every day… The only prayer to God was to look at my hands and give me the power to heal,” the doctor proclaimed.
The free village clinic, that he has been running uninterrupted (every Sunday) for the past 44 years, was first inaugurated by his father one day after Ramana’s graduation. It began under a tent with him attending to only four or five people. Today the number of patients has reached anywhere from 700 to over 1,000. “This has become like an addiction…this is like my prayer,” said Dr. Rao. His facility is now the world’s longest-serving free clinic.
His clinic is located in T.Begur, a village of around 650,000 people in rural Bangalore, India. Since 1974 the doctor and his team have treated over two million patients completely free of charge. The medical staff includes his wife and two sons (who are also doctors), ten dentists, six nurses, one skin specialist, and volunteers. Baba Jan, an auto-rickshaw driver from Gauribidanur, (some 60 km away) who volunteers every week said, “I came here for the first time eight years ago with my mother. I started volunteering seven years ago because I was impressed and I wanted to help.”
On a normal day, the consulting physician and cardiologist is the man responsible for the health of many known actors, politicians, and even state ministers. On a Sunday he is the philanthropist responsible for the heath of those stricken by poverty. “It is poverty making our lines grow longer and longer. They can’t go to the hospital, they can’t even see a doctor that is how poor they are. They have no food, leave alone medicines,” he explains.
People travel from far and wide to see him. The radius has spread to virtually 110 kilometers. The pilgrimage begins the day before. On Saturday night the queue has already begun. By 3:30-4:00 am there are already around 300-400 people lined up waiting. Not only does he give these people free medical attention, but he has also built a shed for his patients where they receive a free lunch while they wait for their consultation and treatment.
Apart from the free Village Clinic, his operation has also helped the community in other ways: He has adopted 50 schools in the city to which he continues to give books, uniforms and other study materials too. And, during festivals, he offers clothes and rice for the poor. Furthermore, his team has dug four borewells, which supply water to 60 villages in the area. Plus, they’ve installed 7,000 toilets in the surrounding villages.
Dr Ramana Rao was honoured with Padma Shri for medicine in 2010 and bagged Dr Abdul Kalam National Award for rural medical service in 2008. “I believe only a doctor can serve the humanity by curing them and reducing the suffering,” Dr Ramana Rao told The Logical Indian.
To run a clinic like this so consistently, in such huge numbers, requires much funding. He needs a lot of help to continue to run the clinic as he does. Funding comes primarily by donations through India’s largest crowdfunding website Milaap. The funds raised are used to buy medicines, nebulizers, and injections for the clinic. Anyone can help Dr. Rao.
Be the reason he can continue to serve the ever-growing number of rural patients who line up in the queues with the hope to get cured. Support this cause through donation to his Raj Prakash Trust. Visit the website for further information.