CHENNAI: For close to two decades, Punjab has had the highest rate of cancer in India. It is so steep that the state government launched Mukhya Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme last year to provide financial assistance to those suffering from the disease.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, one of India's leading golfers, has been doing his bit for this cause. The Arjuna awardee has been conducting yearly cancer check-up camps in Kandila, a small village in Gurdaspur district that he's adopted. Gaganjeet Bhullar Foundation (founded in 2013) has a tie-up with Roko Cancer Charitable
Trust to carry out the camps.
"Over the last three or four years, we have not found a single patient in Kandila and surrounding villages," said Bhullar from Kapurthala, his hometown. "My foundation takes care of yearly check-ups. We give free medication to anybody who is suffering from blood pressure, diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases.
Around 1500 to 1700 people come for that two-day camp," added the 32-year-old. The main objective of Bhullar's foundation is to provide "a decent lifestyle to help people economically". Donating 3,200 reading glasses, helping youngsters with educational expenses and providing food to needy are a few things he's done. In 2019, Bhullar also installed a reverse osmosis (RO) water-purifier at a
school in Kandila.
Moving forward, Bhullar has plans to set up a clinic or a small hospital in the village. "I'm already in touch with the government to provide generic medical help. You need permission before you start any clinic. It's a long process. All the paperwork might take a year to complete."
To meet these expenses, Bhullar started raising funds three years ago in California, where he's based. Part of Sacramento Lions Club, he receives 50 per cent of the foundation's funding -- approximately `4.5 lakh per year -- from it. The other half comes from his pocket.
As far as golf goes, Bhullar doesn't see himself returning to action any time soon. Though golf courses across the country have opened after being shut for two months, European and Asian Tours are yet to release a new calendar. With no competitions for the next few months, he is happy to spend time at home and chalk out plans for the 35 families in Kandila.