SalamatRaho presents to you the story of a doctor couple whose dedication towards providing medical help to their community makes us believe that hard work and perseverance will surely give results.
The couple continued to work selflessly to reduce the pain and suffering of the local community that they have adopted as their own. Their simple home is built next to the hospital and meals are provided round the clock to the needy.
‘Follow your dreams. If you have a goal, and you want to achieve it, then work hard and do everything you can to get there, and one day it will come true.’- Lindsey Vonn
Most of us believe in this advice but how many actually put it into practice? Those who actually practice what they preach, are the ones who succeed in reaching their goal. One has to believe in one self and have to be totally dedicated and passionate about their decision, and someday, hard work will bear fruits.
When we read about Ashish and Kavita Satav and their experiences, we have to trust that someday, focussed dedication does give results.
Childhood of Ashish Satav
Asish Satav was born on 28th August 1971, in a well-known family in Wardha. His father Rambhau Satav was a well-known business man and also owned farmlands. But does life always move as planned? No. In his heart he knew Ashish would follow his own path.
Gandhian Way Of Life
Ashish grew up as a pampered child yet, he was introduced to the Gandhian way of life by his grandfather, Vasantrao Bombatkar, who presented his young ward books on Gandhian thoughts and that made a strong impression on his young mind. By age 13, he had read Gandhi’s ‘My Experiments with Truth’. Gandhi’s philosophy that the real India dwelled in villages and those who wanted to serve the country should go to the villages, stayed with him for the rest of his life. In his teens, he decided that he would live and work in villages. Dr. Prakash Amte’s place in Hemalkasa and that of Dr. Abhay Bang in Gadchiroli district of eastern Vidarbha, both the doctors had set up their facilities in the remote tribal areas, to serve the poor locals and this influenced him deeply.
Ashish chose to study medicine. He completed his MBBS in 1992 and MD in 1997 from Government Medical College, Nagpur. But instead of setting up a practice in the city, the young doctor wanted to settle down in the hilly forest region of Melghat, in Amravati district of western Vidarbha in Maharashtra.
Marriage With Dr. Kavita
Ashish was in a way a rebel and wanted to prove at every stage of life that he will live as per his own fundamentals. He was very clear even when he decided to get married. The girl would have to be a doctor from a government college, of a different caste and willing to live and work for the poor in Melghat. He announced that it would be a simple wedding and the money would be used to make a hospital in Melghat.
The universe led him to his soul mate Dr. Kavita, an ophthalmic surgeon from Akola. Both families accepted his request and they had a court wedding with ten guests.
Life in Tribal Region- Melghat: Selfless Service
Tribal regions offer more challenges than rural areas but Melghat was a tough battle. There were no roads, no electricity, and bad connectivity. He selected Dharani village which was 100 kms away from nearest habitation with thick jungles and summers with 48 degrees.
Dr Ashish had to struggle to get even a single patient. He had started his OPD in a mud hut built in a nearby village, Kolhapur, and a hospital in a small four room house which he had rented in Dharani. He also lived in this ‘hospital’, so that he could attend to the patients. Often, he also had to clean the hospital himself.
Dr Kavita supported him throughout and adjusted even with the reptiles and insects and snakes. She was an eye surgeon but days and weeks went by and no patients turned up. It was disheartening for these young Doctors to just live on hope. Villagers still trusted their traditional Ayurvedic practitioners. Getting the villagers to trust them was an uphill task.
Slowly, due to positive treatment and results, some critical patients were treated successfully and villagers started believing in them.
But life is never easy for those who want to face challenges. Diseases often led to plenty of deaths and villagers once again stopped trusting these two young doctors and stopped coming to the hospital.
Dr. Kavita decided to take charge and started visiting the patients in the village in spite of all the hardships. They went on cycles, bullock carts or walked miles to reach the patients. Often stayed back in the village in open spaces. Fear of wild animals loomed large. But these doctors didn’t lose focus. They kept on serving these patients dedicatedly in the remotest regions of Melghat.
Dr. Kavita had her first son and soon was back in action. She took her four-month-old baby everywhere with her along with a helper. The three of them together traversed across fifty villages to identify patients of cataract and other eye ailments and create awareness.
Seeing the hardships Kavita and her baby were facing, Dr Ashish’s brother provided them with a car which made life easier for her. Nothing stopped this young couple and now they used this car to ferry patients and even provide meals. And slowly, seeds of faith were sown.
There was an odd case where Dr. Kavita had to deliver a baby using her eye surgery instruments as nothing else was available. She even breastfeed the newborn herself, as the mother was unwell. This was the level of passion and dedication which won hearts. But dealing with mind blocks and superstitions was a daily struggle.
Team Of Barefoot Doctors
Melghat has around 317 villages. He decided to build a team of barefoot doctors to provide relief. Picking up semi-literate tribal girls, Dr. Ashish trained them in treatment of childhood illnesses. Malnutrition was the major reason for illness and government aid was not reaching them. It was impossible to get some help from the government departments.
Ashish decided that it would be more practical to focus on his dream project of building a critical care hospital. He received some loan from his family and he went forward purchasing land in the middle of the forest. MAHAN trust, which was formed earlier, now took stronger roots.
Dream: MAHAN Mahatma Gandhi Tribal Hospital
In the year 2007, Dr. Ashish Satav’s dream of project- MAHAN Mahatma Gandhi Tribal Hospital came into being. Located in the remotest village of Maharashtra, the hospital was like a heaven for the sick and ailing people of Melghat. There was peace and positivity there, unlike a city hospital.
Aid To The Hospital
The hospital thrives on aid given to it by philanthropists across the country and abroad. For the tribals, the treatment is free. So far more than 100,000 patients have been treated, 3,000 critical patients have been saved here. The painstaking efforts made by both Kavita and Ashish have created an awareness among the tribe about medical treatments.
The good work being done by Satav’s at Melghat is known to the medical fraternity in the entire region of Vidarbha. The doctors were more than willing to extend a helping hand.
The critical care hospital that Satavs had built, had a major and a minor operation theatre. Ashish and Kavita reached out to doctors in the country and abroad to come and perform surgeries at Melghat. Scores of doctors, including plastic surgeons, orthopaedics, oncologist and anaesthetists accepted their invitation. Surgical camps were now held twice a year and his complete family joined in to support in various departments.
When Obstacles are part of progress
So, they did have to face a lot of criticism or complaints from people who did not support their work or understood their dedication. But they both managed to deal with issues and move forward, without giving up.
A true follower of Gandhi, Ashish firmly believes in the Mahatma’s quote that “truth can get troubled but it can never be defeated”. He lives by this and it has helped him overcome many difficult situations.
They had complete support from their families. Their son Athang, grew up with the same sensitivity and is now doing his medical studies to be a critical care specialist and he knows exactly where his future lies. In taking an active part in Mahan trust and hospital in the coming future.
In the past few decades of selfless service, this couple has operated more than 3200 cases with Ophthalmic problems especially cataract free of cost.
A Sneak Peek Into Their Contribution To Humanity
Door to door Eye check-up of over 375000 people from 450 tribal villages have been conducted. More than 25422 patients were given vision and their blindness was prevented.
Developed 6165 nutrition gardens and 2875 nutrition farms in 16 tribal villages. Tribal produced about 247554.15 kg of vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, etc. in their nutrition gardens and farms, which was mostly consumed by families. It improved nutrition & prevented malnutrition in 3720 families.
More than 200 patients of tobacco and alcohol addiction stopped addiction.
More than 21965 patients have been treated in more than 317 speciality camps.
1333 plastic, general, orthopaedics and gynaecology surgeries were performed for post-burn contractures, cancers of uterus, oral cavity, parotid & breast, cleft lips & palates, goitre.
Treatment of more than 83694 childhood illness and new natal issues have been taken care off.
They arranged Yoga and meditation classes in 15 villages for 10812 plus children and youths.
They arranged ARSH (Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health) training camps for over 300 adolescent children, 14 VHWs and 32 tribal counsellors.
Awards And Accolades
Good work is always rewarded. One just needs to trust the universe and be patient. They received many awards like-
Public Health Champion” award by World Health Organisation.
REAL global award by Save the Children UK.
Felicitation by Ex. President of INDIA, Hon. A.P.J. Abdul Kalamji.
Felicitation of Dr. Ashish and Dr. Kavita by honourable President of India, Mr. Ramnath Kovind.
Best Tribal Research Project Award & Young Scientist Award” by Indian Council of Medical Research.
Oberoi melting pot award by Rotary International, Consulate Generals of 26 countries
Americanes Foundation’s ‘Spirit of Humanity Award 2011 –National Award ’ for child nutrition and child health.
Angels of Rural India -Healers of India by Health Minister of India Mr. Naddha and WHO India chief Henk Beckedem.
Contribution During Covid Times
Past two years they have been fighting against covid issues. Their hospital was open 24/7.
They treated more than 7500 covid patients of different categories,including 670 pregnant women and 638 under five.
Family Food kits, PPE kits, oximeters and masks were distributed to hundreds.
Intensive behaviour change communication (BCC) programs were conducted for 10732 persons from 33 villages.
With so much vision and work experience behind Dr. Ashish and Dr. Kavita Satav, they successfully achieved their dream of serving lakhs of people in the remote villages near Malghet and establishing their Hospital.
True followers of Gandhiji’s philosophy, the Satav’s are genuine heroes of rural India.
Team NomadLawyer salutes Dr. Ashish and Dr. Kavita for their selfless service to humanity, specially in the tribal areas.
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