Sheikh Alam of Illambazaar is a poor farmer from a town in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Working in the fields and braving the harsh weather has taken a toll in his health and he often suffers from chest congestion. “As a poor farmer I was finding it difficult to buy medicines for my chest congestion, till someone referred me to the authorities at Balaka, an NGO in our locality. I got medicines for the entire course, free of cost,” says a relieved Sheikh Alam.
Sabita Das of Balurghat, in Dakshin Dinajpur district of West Bengal, had a terrible skin infection and being a daily wage earner simply did not have the money or means to get treatment. That was till someone in her village helped her out. “The skin ointment that I got for my infection in my right hand gave me relief, I got the medicine from Satyajit Mancha, I did not have the money to buy the costly ointment,” says Sabita.
Both Balaka and Satyajit Mancha are NGOs working with Priya Entertainments Pvt Ltd (PEPL). PEPL has started a unique initiative called ‘Medicine Box’, at each of their 11 centres spread across West Bengal and Tripura from this year. “Medicine box for the underprivileged section of our society was the idea of my mother, Purnima Dutta, who is also the chairperson of PEPL. As part of the programme, medicine boxes have been put up in all the units and are used for collection of unused medicines which have not yet expired and have shelf life. The campaign began this year on Poila Boishak, April 14th, celebrating the Bengali New Year’s day. These medicines are collected from all our units and awareness is being created amongst the patrons visiting our single screens and multiplexes. The medicines are then given to a number of NGOs to cater to the requirements of underprivileged children and poverty stricken families unable to purchase medicines for treatment,” explains Arijit Dutta, MD, Priya Entertainments Pvt Ltd.
Remember the good old days when before the start of a film, a socially relevant documentary would be screened? Well, PEPL is doing just that across it’s cinema halls. Slide shows during the movies and notice boards inside the centres broadcast the information of this initiative among the movie goers. Branded PEPL medicine boxes are displayed at prominent places for proper visibility and awareness. “We have got a tremendous response to the initiative at all the centres where people donated medicines with open hands. I am sure the medicines will do a lot of good to the poor and needy who though in need cannot afford to buy their medicines,” says Arijit.“We have given medicines procured from PEPL to 15 beneficiaries through our organization RIHAD at Bhangore. The medicines were mostly for gastric infections as prescribed by the local physicians,” confirms Aloke Paul, Social worker for RIHAD, an NGO in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal that works with PEPL.
And it’s not just Medicine Box, PEPL also has other social initiatives running that have benefitted many. “Last year we launched an ecology and nature/wild life preservation awareness among students from various schools of Kolkata in association with CEMO (Centre for Ecological Movement).” informs Arijit.