In most cases it is we who go to visit a doctor when we are unwell, but a doctor in Pune is doing something unique to help people in need of medical help. In Indian society, we regard doctors at saviours; this doctor visits religious places and helps the poor and elderly with their health needs. It seems poetic that a doctor can be in a house of God and treat people for their ailments.
Meet a doctor from Pune who has chosen an unconventional way of treating patients. Dr Abhijeet Sonawane visits shrines and religious places and treats elderly and physically challenged homeless people who beg to survive. He carries two bags full of medicines on his bike. Everyday from 10 am to 4 pm goes to famous temples and mosques in Pune to do health a check-up of the homeless people present there. After the check-up he gives them medicines.
“I consider it a way to give back to society. When I was going through a difficult phase in my life, such people had helped me to fight the problems. At this point in my career, I am in position to help them and that’s why I am doing it,” Dr Abhijeet Sonawane said.
According to Dr Sonawane only medicines alone cannot cure a disease. Care and mental support plays a vital role in boosting a person’s will power to get better and live a healthy life. Because of this conviction Dr Sonawane tries to comfort them by striking up a conversation with them. “There are so many government schemes which aim to rehabilitate such homeless people. But they will not actively participate in the rehabilitation process unless they are convinced that we actually care. That’s why I talk to them and try to understand what has made them homeless. After a while they open up and share their heart wrenching stories,” informed Dr Sonawane
Dr Sonawane gives medicines on the spot to homeless people after they are checked. If a patient’s condition appears to be critical then he refers patient to government and private multi-specialty hospitals. “Dr Sonawane’s initiative is remarkable. In my clinic he often sends such patients. I do it as a part of social responsibility. We often get patients of Dengue, typhoid and malaria. We treat them in minimum cost,” Dr Sandeep Agarwal who runs a multi-specialty hospital in Pune.
Dr Sonawane’s efforts are taken into account in order to rehabilitate homeless people by government authorities too.
“I am aware of the social initiative by Dr Abheejit Sonawane. In our meetings we have discussed how his work can be aligned with government’s policies to rehabilitate homeless people,” said Suvarna Pawar, Assistant Commissioner of Women and Child Welfare Department.
Dr Sonawane treats 20-30 homeless patients per day. Well acquainted with the religious practices in the society, Dr Sonawane visits a religious place considering which day of the week it is. But he refrains himself from treating young and physically fit homeless people. “I don’t want to encourage the tendency to beg. If they are physically fit, they must work for their livelihood and live an independent life. This is my principle.” Dr Sonawane said.