MUMBAI: As one travels south-east from Nagpur, the trees along the road start getting dense and there’s a sense of being deep in the jungles. A couple of hours more lead to Gadchiroli town. ‘Shodh Gram’ the headquarters of Dr Rani and Abhay Bang’s Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH), is still 17 kms away. Many villages pass before the SEARCH campus comes in sight.
SEARCH is a voluntary organisation that runs projects on tribal welfare, health, adolescent sex education and so on. Shodh Gram has a hospital, a de-addiction centre and a research institute with many publications to its credit.
Live among the people, love them, listen to them, learn from them, begin with what they know and build on what they have… is the philosophy of ‘research’ by SEARCH and the campus is the embodiment this. “One must develop a sense of oneness with the object of research,” said Dr Bang.
“Research for us means identifying problems of the people and developing new, appropriate solutions. Research is the greatest contribution that voluntary organisations can make to society,” added Dr Abhay Bang.
Looking around, one realises that these are not hollow words. The Bangs have walked the talk and led thousands on the path in the last 40 years. SEARCH has successfully contributed to health of women, pneumonia in children, neonatal health and survival, child mortality, alcohol de-addiction, women empowerment, tribal health, deforestation and self-employment etc. Their research helped 60 lakh labourers get proper wages for their work.
The Bangs, who set up SEARCH in 1986, published their findings on health issues of tribal women in The Lancet in 1989. They have received numerous awards. But, being Gandhians, they lead a simple life. Their simplicity and clarity of vision leave a lasting impression.
Rani and Abhay Bang
Work for tribal welfare