MUMBAI: For past 60 years, Ramchandra Dandekar, a resident of Sushi (Chandrapur) in Maharashtra, has had just one mission — to help poor patients in the remotest parts of the state.
Every day, without fail the 87-year-old homeopath goes to remote, tribal villages — mostly on his bicycle — and treats patients who cannot travel to big towns or cities to avail medical facilities unless it is absolutely inevitable.
Dandekar acquired a diploma in homoeopathy and worked as a lecturer for a year before an acquaintance urged him to work in rural areas rather than doing the teaching job in a city. He unhesitatingly agreed and has been serving the poor and tribal patients selflessly ever since.
It’s the joy of bringing succour to the people neglected by the State machinery and the mainstream that gives Dandekar the energy to reach out to them without a break.
“I am 87 years old but not tired, and nor do I want to rest. I want to serve the people; that gives me immense energy,” said the octogenarian. While his spirit is indomitable, he is physically fit, too.
With two bags containing medicines and testing kits, Dandekar sets off on his bicycle without footwear or spectacles at 6.30 am and return by 12.30- 1.00 pm. “If required, then I go again in the evening. I have not disturbed my routine for the last 60 years,” Dandekar said. For places close to his house, he prefers to walk. At times, he also travels by bus.
“Chandrapur is a remote and highly dense forest area, with many localities where a bus cannot go. Therefore, bicycle or walking are the only options to reach the faraway hamlets and treat the people. In the pandemic times, too, many people could not afford to go to hospitals. So, I decided to treat them at home,” said Dandekar.
He has treated thousands of poor and tribal patients. His fee? “It’s not mandatory to pay; it depends on a person’s ability.” Most of the times, the gratitude and goodwill of the patients and their families are enough for the good doctor.