On October 9, 2014, when a tourist bus from West Bengal carrying 60 passengers fell off the Dhauligiri hills in Bhubaneswar, Kailash Chandra Sarangi and his team, Sahaya, were among the first to rescue the 30 critically injured patients and rush them to hospital. This is not the first time that Kailash has donned the role of a messiah. He reaches out to accident victims, poison victims and anyone at government hospitals without anyone to help them. It is something he has been doing for the past 15 years or more.
On the job 24x7, Kailash can be spotted wearing a pink shirt with the Sahaya emblem stitched on the pocket, on Capital Hospital premises, either manning the Sahaya registration counter or busy helping patients, carrying them, arranging for their food or shifting them to some other hospital. The 34-year-old has a 12-member team, who help out on the field, at hospitals and at the Sahaya office to maintain records.
“From 2009 till date we have handled 4,000 accident cases, helped 5,000 people, who have no one to call their own, with hospitalisation and treatment facilitation, rescued hundreds of people in poisoning cases and cremated at least 300 people at our own cost, as no one claims these bodies,’’ says Kailash who registered Sahaya as a non government organisation in 2007. The first time he offered help to an accident victim was way back in 1998-99 when he had come from his village to work in the city as a vegetable vendor. After completing his matriculation from his native place, Natabarpur Sasan in Khandapara, his parents insisted that Kailash fend for himself, as he was one among nine siblings. Amid uncertainty, Kailash worked in a grocery shop, a tea stall and then started selling vegetables in the main market, which he continues to do till date, with the help of his nephews.
“In fact, the money I earn from selling vegetables, I invest in Sahaya. Besides, Santosh Kumar Sahoo, president of Sahaya, who happens to supply me with vegetables, has been providing me with financial support as and when necessary. The Odisha Road Safety Society has also been paying all the 12 Sahaya members, including me, a token amount that serves as our salary,’’ Kailash reveals. Kailash also receives donations from individuals willing to help.
“My work is not limited to helping accident or poison victims, I also arrange blood for the needy, conduct blood donation camps and provide relief to flood victims. Last year, along with the Indo-American Sevak Foundation (IASF), we distributed relief to flood victims in some districts of the State,’’ he says.
Sahaya presently has four ambulances stationed at various points in the city periphery to ferry victims to the hospitals. With Kailash being recognised for his contribution to the field of service through various awards, he is the one contacted mostly by the personnel manning the PCR (police control room) vans stationed at different points, and by doctors and common people on his mobile number or helpline number 1073, in case of need.
It took Kailash seven years to get a government quarters to run the Sahaya office. He is also making efforts to get some help from the government to start an old-age home, which has been on his mind for a long time. Kailash had bought a small piece of land some time ago, on which construction for the home has just started. “I need to start the home soon because most people landing in the hospital, with no one to care for, need to be taken care of. Now, we rehabilitate many such people at various old age homes in the city. But once my home comes up, I will not have much problem rehabilitating them there,’’ says Kailash. Five of his teammates also can be found on the hospital campus or information centre, sporting Sahaya’s pink sarees and shirts.
Kailash is also one of the champions of the cause of body donation. “My efforts paid off when body donation became legal after the Odisha Anatomy (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed in the Odisha Assembly.’’