In a world where faith in humanity diminishes every moment, a husband and wife have managed to restore it by dedicating their lives to society for over three decades.
Dr Abhay and Rani Bang returned to India from the US with a passion to “serve locally, but help globally.” They both hold a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, USA. Together, they have invested their MBBS and MD degrees in providing the rural population with medical assistance. They have helped provide community-based health care in 134 villages and a tribal friendly hospital. Every year, they treat nearly 75,000 patients and serve a population of one million.
"My decision was being made every day till I turned 13, but the culmination of it happened on that day,” recalls Dr Abhay, travelling down memory lane to the day when he established with his elder brother Ashok what they wanted to be in the future. Ashok Bang decided to help improve agriculture while Abhay chose to become a medical practitioner. Both brothers are now a testimony to their younger selves. Ashok works for the farmers in Wardha district and conducts various experiments to reduce farmer suicides while Abhay is a social activist and a researcher in the field of community health.
Rani was studying with Abhay when they got acquainted for the first time. They exchanged ideas and learnt that they shared the same interests and passion, but were completely unaware of what the cards held for their future. Together, they decided to join hands and convert their dreams into reality by tying the knot. When asked about the compromises they had to make through their journey, Abhay does admit that he “misses listening to Carnatic music, discussing a novel or watching a movie.”
He, however, assures that those compromises are no match to the rewards they receive from the villagers in the form of trust, love and gratitude. Abhay states that coming to Gadchiroli after leaving the luxurious life they lived in the US was the most important decision he ever made. “Our children may not have learnt ABC in the beginning, but they have certainly learnt life’s ABCs since day one,” explains the proud father of two.
During their first anti-alcohol campaign, they had to take a stand against the government of Maharashtra. Over 25 years have passed and the government now stands beside them, supporting the power couple in what they do.
“One day when my father came to visit, we were going to an anti-alcohol campaign when the police arrested all three generations – my father, my wife and I, and our two sons. That was a great political and social education for our children,” he adds.
The life of a social activist is no cakewalk, agrees Abhay. He recalls an incident from 1995, “We had just started providing care here. A baby was born, that weighed 1,200 grams. Usually, a baby of that weight is hard to save even in hospitals, but our caretakers provided such good help at home that the baby survived. She grew up to be a fine young woman, got married and recently gave birth to a baby boy. She came for the care of her new–born child to the same village, as she wanted her baby to receive the same care that she had been given. So, after 20 years, to have both the mother and the baby to be taken care of by the same arogyadoot in the same village has been one of the most rewarding moments of my life,” he says with pride.
Both Abhay and Rani are authors of some prominent books. When asked about how they make time to write such best-sellers, Bang simply laughed, saying, “Time is the most difficult thing to find.”