“Rain rain go away” is not the rhyme one recollects often in Chennai and August is not the time you expect it to rain. But with this Gladiators batch, the weather has changed so much. It has been raining, like it does in Mumbai or Kerala. We often pinch and ask ourselves if we are in Chennai.
After incessant rains, Rain Gods took a break on Sunday morning (22-Aug-2010) to make way for a pleasant day. It was not just another Sunday for us – we had planned to conduct an Eye camp for the villagers in Nallur and Nathamkariacheri villages near our campus, as part of our ‘Karma Yoga’ initiative. It had taken us three weeks of planning and groundwork – we had roped in a reputed Eye hospital from Chennai, coordinated with two village heads, found a common venue for the camp, roped in an Optical shop, spread word around in the villages by distributing pamphlets – and we were waiting for the D-day.
At least 20 villagers seemed to be punctual and were present when the camp started at 10 am. We put up banners at important locations like bus stops and village ration shops to direct people to the camp venue. Women, mostly in their 50s and 60s, turned up in good numbers. One of them, who seemed to be in her late 50’s, did not know her age – she said it is 40! Many others did not know their address, the details we needed during the registration.
A health camp or an eye camp is a place where we get a chance to show our communication skills. Some of us went around the villages to get the people to come for the eye screening. One of us remarked – “It was like marketing a new product or a service – people are not willing to take it even if it is free”. We won over many of them and brought them to the camp. The other tough part was to convince the old people to undergo the cataract surgery at the hospital. They believed a pair of spectacles would rectify their eye problem.
It was poignant that some of the old people who visited the camp did not have anyone to take care of them. They were still laboring on their own for their living. We tried to persuade one old lady with poor vision to undergo the surgery. She pleaded with us that she cannot afford to miss her daily wages even for a few days. She also did not have anyone who would look after her after the surgery. We finally managed to send five people to the hospital for surgery on the same day. The rest told us they would come some other day, but we resolved to follow up with them.
We had already screened around 100 people in our camp when rain started playing pranks again, around half past twelve. By 1:30 pm, it started raining continuously and we were nearing the end of the camp. After the screening we sent back the people by buses and vans to their respective villages. Finally, we wound up at 2:30 pm with some of us completely drenched in the rains.
In the end, we all came back with lots of satisfaction, having given our best, to serve and uplift our fellow human beings who live around us. Rain did not deter us and did not stop the villagers either. In fact, it made way for us in the morning. We once again realized that when we do good things selflessly, things fall in place – the spirit of Karma Yoga prevailed!
Photo Courtesy: Tripti Motwani