For taxi driver Saidul Lashkar, the year 2004 was a game changer. His sister, Marufa, succumbed to a chest infection at the age of 17 when no hospital could help her with medication. On that day, Saidul vowed to build a hospital so that nobody has to pay the price for negligence in healthcare. In an interview with IANS, he says,
I felt I needed to do something so that no impoverished person dies like she did, without getting treatment. I wish no brother loses his sister like I did.
The Marufa Smriti Welfare Foundation in Punri village near Baruipur is located 55 km from Kolkata. Saidul spent 12 years building a hospital from the scratch, says a report on AmarUjala. Being a taxi driver, he shared his plans with his passengers. While not everyone empathised, there were a few who helped Saidul's plan take off.
Recollecting this phase, he shares that one time a passenger, Srishti Ghosh, donated a month's salary on hearing Saidul's story. Talking about his biggest pillar of strength, his wife, Saidul says,
None of this would have been possible without my wife, Shamima. When I started, a lot of people in my close circle distanced themselves from me thinking I am crazy, but my wife was there all along. She even gave me all her ornaments to collect the funds for the land.
Saidul's dream came true this year on February 17, when he inaugurated the hospital. To make the moment more special, Saidul invited Srishti to cut the ribbon. He intends to build a full-fledged 50-bed hospital with X-ray and electrocardiography (ECG) facilities. On the inaugural day, the hospital could treat 286 patients, and Saidul wishes it benefits 100 villages.
Applauding his efforts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned him in his 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme. Saidul says,
Since his speech, a lot of people got in touch with me. Many have offered help. Some local contractors have helped me out by supplying sand, bricks and cement needed for the construction work, while a doctor from Chennai has expressed his wish to join my hospital and treat patients.
The hospital now accommodates eight doctors and is providing free services. But this is not where Saidul wants to stop. He has bigger plans. "Now that I have so many people with me, I feel I can go even further to fulfil my dream. Maybe I won't limit myself only to constructing one hospital. Maybe I'll go further in search of new dreams," he says.