Inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Rajesh Kothwal is working towards living his life with dignity. He runs an ashram where he provides medical treatment to the poor and destitute
While we walk down a street many of us notice beggars or disabled destitutes lying on the pavements but not many of us notice that they are in need of help. One of the brutal truths of today’s society is the lack of humanity. Despite noticing them, we never turn up to their rescue but thankfully Rajesh Kothwal is not one among us. Rajesh is striving hard to rescue these people and make their life better.
From the age of 14, Rajesh started social work. He used to volunteer for NGOs. In 2009, he started his own organisation in his mother’s name — Bharathi Memorial Foundation. Rajesh was recently featured on CNN IBN India Positive show for his work. Rajesh has been responsible for saving the lives of several destitutes in the twin cities. In addition to providing medical facility he also provides them shelter and food. The ashram is now home for nearly 70 destitutes including 14 children who are infected with HIV, leukemia and other disorders.
“My parents were government school teachers and they always followed the teachings of Vivekananda they use to give me preachings of Swami Vivekananda. I am inspired by his teachings and my aim is to lead a life with some dignity. Time to time, I visit various temples, bus stops and railway station to check if anyone is in need of treatment and bring them to the ashram to provide the best medical treatment,” says Rajesh Kothwal.
“The irony is that we are only two people even after placing so many advertisements no one comes forward to help us. I am ready to pay `8,000-`10,000 as salary but still no one is ready. Many of them thinks this work is unhygienic. Sometimes it becomes tough for me to visit my patients admitted in City hospitals. Many of my patients are been treated in Gandhi, Osmania, NIMS and AP Chest Hospital. Depending on the condition of the destitute we shift them to these hospitals for better treatment. It becomes tough to manage time between the ashram and hospitals alone,” he adds.
Most of the inmates of the ashram suffer from diseases like Aids, epilepsy, polio, tuberculosis, cancer and heart ailments. In addition to providing the best treatments to those inmates many a times he also performs the last rites of inmates who die and it is done according to one’s individual religious practices.
Recalling his journey he says, “Prior to the ashram I was an attender to 15 patients in different City hospitals around 14 years ago. I use to maintain their body hygiene and serve food and medicine to them, but as the number of patients increased my work became more difficult. Then I built a shed next to my house as a temporary shelter and use to treat most of my patients there. But my neighbours were against the idea as they were afraid of the spread of the infection. Adding to woes my mother K Bharathi, a government school teacher, died of a heart attack, and that’s when the idea to start an ashram named after her came to be.”
But paying doctor’s fees and medical bills was one big problem for him and that’s the reason he took up a male nurse training course from the Indian Red Cross Society for a year. He then obtained legal permission to inject or dress their wounds. However, Rajesh makes sure that he doesn’t get infected while treating them. He takes all kinds of vaccinations.
Bharathi Memorial Foundation has become Rajesh’s mission. He utilises his parents’ pension to meet the ashram’s medical expenses. He might lack financial support but this obstacle has not deterred him from his mission.