Of poverty and misery..
‘O.L.I.V.E’ makes a noble move..
To restore life and heal deep-set wounds’.
- Canta Dadlaney
Meet Dr. Satish Bhatia - a Doctor who believes in offering an Olive branch to the less fortunate ones of Society! If you thought doctors were all robotic demi-gods who breathe life into us or stand helpless in some situations, you are wrong! There is more to this species of injections and antibiotics.
Dr. Satish T. Bhatia completed his Post - Graduate Degree in Dermatology with Honors. The first Indian to receive a Diploma in Dermabrasion from Medicamat in France from the pioneer of Micro-Dermabrasion - Dr. Francois Maluzier, he returned to India bringing with him the "Medicamat Skin Renewer", a revolutionary machine for removal of scars, wrinkles & the likes. This was in the late ‘90s. There was a surge of wanting to look youthful and beautiful in every corner around the world. The timing couldn’t be more perfect! But Dr. Bhatia did not stop at making people body-beautiful. He wanted to impart that knowledge to as many and became a lecturer at the J. J. Group of Hospitals where he trained many skin specialists in the various aspects of Derma Care. What followed next was an invite from the Apollo Group of Hospitals to join their Hi-Tech Clinic in Mumbai at Kala Ghoda as Head of the Skin Department, which he did for 5 years.
From film stars to Page 3 folks and the common man, he renders a range of services but more on that front later. There is another side to this Doctor who along with three other doctors set up O.L.I.V.E. – non-profit organization, a noble venture that has adopted 120 kids at Bhatkar in the Bhor district of Pune.
Well, we all know about the noble profession of medicine but what brought about this initiative? ‘O.L.I.V.E’ – stands for Organization for the youth, leadership & integrated village empowerment and it was the brain-child of a friend’s wife. She ideated on this good cause of adopting the undernourished kids of a village and zeroed in on Bhatkar. The village kids here are indeed a pathetic sight of deprived individuals who live in unimaginable conditions. They define the term ‘living under the poverty line’ to the core. These kids go to schools which have been given government grants and so called infrastructures but live in abysmal conditions’.
‘O.L.I.V.E’ was born out of the efforts of Gynecologist - Dr. Amit Duradar, General Practitioner - Dr. Nimish Mahimthura, Eye specialist – Dr. H.V. Desai (from Poona) and Skin specialist – Dr. Satish Bhatia.
Gaining access to a village even if for a noble cause can be an arduous task in our country? How was the experience? Dr. Bhatia agrees to this whole-heartedly and says ‘We were all so excited and knew what to expect. It started off by first approaching the Sarpanch of the village. Surprisingly, they welcomed the idea with open arms and May of 2008 saw the Sarpanch address the village on a multitude of issues on essential hygiene, eye & skin ailments. It was a preliminary talk which started at 9.30 am and lasted for four hours’.
Four doctors, one village, 120 kids and no outside assistance! – Isn’t that a very bold effort to venture out to without any grants?
Dr. Bhatia smiles ‘Perhaps but we knew what we were getting into because it is something we wanted to do. At the start, we did spread the word around amongst colleagues in the medical world but saw no grants coming. We knew we had to take it ahead and so we pooled in own money. We bought books, stationery, basic essentials and of course each of us took a stock of our share of speciality medicines and just moved ahead. We had to do it without any grants. We set up a Primary Health Centre and organize a camp every 45 days’. And has this brought about any improvements? What is the mark-up on a scale of 1-10? A very humble reply from Dr Bhatia who says that the conditions have improved by 50%.
And what kind of problems have these four doctors encountered the most? What ails these villagers at large? ‘More of skin ailments which result because of the terrible conditions they live in. So one comes across Anemia, Scabies, Fungal infections, and of course the next most common are the eye ailments e.g. night blindness. Together, the four of us have approached Pharma companies for aid and grants. Unlike others in the medical fraternity who accept benefits from Pharma companies be it in the form of travel abroad for promotion of their medicines etc, our approach is totally humanitarian. We want aid for those people out there and nothing would make us happier to take that aid and improvise their living conditions, to give them a reason to live healthy lives, to make them live like humans! Very often, Pharma companies have given us a negative response though a few have been very generous. I would like to mention ‘Galderma’.in particular who has been very kind to us. Some of the responses from these companies border on the absurd especially when they quote ‘recession’ as an excuse. It is ridiculous and unforgivable. However, we are not giving up and with each passing day, we are able to add or rather offer more aid.
What is the percentage of boys to girls when it comes to unhygienic living? ‘Males are unhygienic b@#$%*ds’ says Dr. Bhatia, the frustration evident in his tone. They are a large number to reckon with in these villages. However, we do have Mothers bringing their girls as well. One has to visit these villages to see the child labour prevalent there. Little kids carrying bricks on their heads and other unimaginable tasks. We are trying our best to educate the families by making them understand the necessity of academics for their children’. An interminable road full of too many pot-holes each posing a different challenge for O.L.I.V.E.
‘Yes, it is’. We need and would accept aid of any sort for these folks. We need volunteers, medicines, grains, old clothes, toys, anything to bring a smile on those anguished faces. It is a dark world they live in.
Which is the medicinal aid that would be most welcome? ‘Eye medicines because they are quite expensive. The skin medicines are relatively cheap. The few large-at-heart pharma companies are sponsoring anti-fungal medicines and other aids but that is not enough. We need a lot of assistance’.
If O.L.I.V.E. is all about elevating the downtrodden souls, why haven’t the founders tried spreading the word more aggressively? ‘Word of mouth is what we are doing. We would rather spend on the required medicines and other aid than talking about it in print advertisements which who knows how many will respond to. It is a crazy world who does not wish to extend a hand. Some of our own close friends respond to our cause with a pat on our backs and that is frustrating!. On the other hand there have been positive responses from personal contacts like two friends of mind – Joy & Terry who work with Delta Airways, both from whom we received our first cheques’. So there is a ray of hope to and it seems like it has just started seeping into their lives and their humane efforts.
‘Yes’, replies Dr. Bhatia, ‘it is encouraging when people respond positively and we are determined to take this to the next level with or without external help’. O.L.I.V.E.’s next target is another school at Mulshi and from the amount of aggression and faith in their own efforts, it looks like another goal being led to fruition.
How about political aid? ‘We would rather not’ is the emphatic reply form Dr. Bhatia which applies the brakes to my pursuing it any further.
One wonders how satisfying this whole O.L.I.V.E experience is and all Dr Bhatia has to say is ‘It is the most satisfying experience. It is a just cause very close to my heart. So far I have been making people look beautiful, which I still do but now with O.L.I.V.E, I am making lives beautiful and that is what makes me really happy. When we stock our own vehicles with all the aid and other stuff that we have to take for a said workshop and hit the road over the weekend every 45 days, it becomes a fulfilling journey in every sense of the word. We are in need of grants only because with our little contribution and effort, it will take more time. And how have their families reacted? ‘Oh our respective families have been more than supportive. The latest in our efforts has been to speak to affluent families at social gatherings and extend O.L.I.V.E to them all. We all hope and pray that everyone comes forward to help every village that we move on to’.
Dermal Fillers & Botox Injections for Scars, Skin Folds & Lip Augmentation, hair follicle transplant – Dr Bhatia is a one-stop shop for all your skin ailments. However, there is more to life than to making people look beautiful ands and Dr Bhatia firmly believes that O.L.I.V.E will achieve it’.
‘People from all segments of society come to me for various treatments. Everyone wants to look beautiful, stunning and glamorous, male or female, young or old and while that beautifying them is my bread and butter O.L.I.V.E adds meaning to my life’.
Truly caught between two extreme worlds, Dr Bhatia smirks at the frivolous lives we all lead but isn’t judgmental about anyone. ‘It is up to each individual whether he or she wants to add meaning to life. One cannot expect or wait for assistance. Waiting for someone to take the initiative could be perennial and I would rather take the leap myself no matter how small it may be’.
There is a lot that can be done and there are many common folks out there who I am sure would be willing to lend a helping hand to O.L.I.V.E! Let’s make this world a better place!