BENGALURU:During her visit Banadur village in Dharwad district Dr Seema Saadhika observed that the village sorely lacked development. Roads were pitted and electricity, erractic. Bus shelters were missing. At the anganwadi and government school, there was classes only upto the fifth standard.
Dr Seema was running a successful practice as a an anti-ageing expert and in functional medicine. At one of the medical camps, she interacted with villagers and the women expressed a desire to be self-sufficient in order to afford good health care. “I realised that mere health camps won’t do,” she says. “The idea of community development started from there.”
She began with a hamlet with around 400 people. Her first lesson was on unity irrespective of caste and religion. Though it was not easy for her, she says that she has now managed to unite the hamlet and “today we have been working with them on several community development projects,” she says proudly adding that, “a sense of accomplishment sets in when the villagers say that they want their daughters to study and be like me.”
The village was left undeveloped, she believes because, “they don’t have all the information about the government aid and facilities given for community development. Moreover there is lack of vision.”
Since she started her work with the village in October 2015 she has started an e-shala system called evening community study centre where children from Class V to V gather in the evenings and they study. “We have also installed a mini solar-grid that provides clean energy. Sixty houses are provided with two tubelights and one mobile charging unit from 6 pm to 11 pm and 5.30 am to 8 am everyday. It also lights up five street lights. This has reduced the usage of kerosene. We have done skill development programmes like mobile-repair classes and two people from the village are now pursuing it as a career. Others have taken up tailoring businesses and eateries. The whole idea is to make them self-sufficient. We also educate school children about importance of preserving Nature,” she says.
They have also gone to colleges -- the Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences to instill a social conscience in doctors and in women’s colleges, to nudge them towards leadership roles.
Developments in the village have also changed the mindset of people, she says. “In fact, we have now been getting requests from other hamlets as well to start similar work in their area.”
Dr Seema’s profession has helped her. “They take me seriously,” she says. She was exposed to weaker sections of people right from my early days in medicine. “Having said that, the ground reality hit me only after interacting with the villagers. I wanted to play a meaningful role in their development. We are also coming up with computer labs in rural areas and also women empowerment programmes,” she says.
She would be expanding her initiative to other villages. “We want to ensure that people don’t move out of villages in search of jobs and better living in cities. We want to ensure that they are independent, educated and teach their future generations also the same,” she signs off.