Udupi: As the sun shines on the first Sunday of every month, it heralds a ray of hope to the needy psychiatric patients in and around Shankerpura in the district.
Over 100 patients converge at the Rotary Bhavan, Shankerpura, for medical assistance and counselling where a free psychiatric camp is being held. When Rotary International was celebrating its centenary in the year 2004, Rotary Shankerpura, of Zone III, RI Dist 3180, being on the forefront in community services, embarked on a pilot project of conducting free psychiatric camp.
The visionary of this pioneer project is none other than well-known psychiatrist Dr B V Bhandary, erstwhile head of the Psychiatric department at the Government district hospital in Udupi. Because of an increase in the number of patients and to alleviate their sufferings, he wanted to start a camp in rural area and the Rotary Bhavan, Shankerpura was selected as an ideal place and location.
The first camp was put to shape in April 2004 with 20 patients. Initially it was a smooth sailing for the promoters. As the popularity of the camps spread to faraway places, more and more patients started pouring in for assistance.
To cope with this daunting task, a psychiatrist, Dr Srinivas Bhat, joined Dr P V Bhandary. Together they are rendering their voluntary services for this worthy noble cause. For a brief period, Dr Rohan Mendonca and Dr Vasudev too assisted during the camps.
The camp is being organized under the banner of Rotary Shankerpura and Rotary TrustShankerpura, District Hospital Udupi and Public Health Centre, Mudabettu. Counselling and free medicines to last for a month are given to the patients. They come from places as distant as 25 kms away
The camps are well organized and equipped with well-manned outpatients' medical history reports counter, a pharmacy with two pharmacists, a medical counsellor and a medical assistant to monitor the blood pressure of the patients. Several medical representatives and numerous Rotarians render their selfless service and support during the camp.
Like the saying goes, charity begins at home. During the initial camps, the Rotarians financially supported well enough to cover medical and other expenses. As the costs kept escalating, they were bound to approach donors.
Philanthropy transcends all man-made boundaries; likewise, many philanthropists have come forward to support the camps. For the year 2012-13, a businessman from the United Arab Emirates has sponsored four camps, a psychiatrist from USA has sponsored two camps and two well-wishers have sponsored a camp each.
Occasionally, small quantities of medicines are supplied by the government hospital. At present, each costs the club over Rs. 15,000. It would not have been possible to achieve this goal without the support from the Rotarians and donors.
The 100th camp will be held on July 1, 2012. To mark this occasion, a stage function is being planned. Rtn PDG Laxminarayan has consented to be the chief guest and Dr P V Bhandary, Dr Srinivas Bhat, Fr Leslie D’ Souza and Rtn Manohar Rao will be the guests of honour.
Since the psychiatric patients are on the rise every month, more and more patients are likely to seek medical support and help from these camps. The club does not stop the camps at this point and certainly likes to sustain this noble cause. However, since, it has no other source of income, it is looking forward to more donors in the days to come.
Donors' names are displayed at the entrance of the Rotary Bhavan as well as at the camp. By holding such humanitarian projects, one can achieve ‘Peace through Service’