Meet Dr. Sylvia Karpagam who has been visiting slums in Ejipura and Devara Jeevana Halli to help people suffering from health issues.
In 2007, Dr. Sylvia Karpagam returned to India from UK to work for slum-dwellers. She realised that there were a few doctors working for the slum-dwellers. She had to stop higher studies in South Hopton in United Kingdom in 2007 and return to Bengaluru to serve patients from economically poor families.
Dr. Sylvia Karpagam was like an angel for slum dwellers of Ejipura and DJ Halli. She took an initiative in DJ Halli to draw attention of not only government officials and service providers but also elected representatives, NGOs and social organisations to build pressure from various quarters and make the state government to discharge its duties.
In 1989 she graduated from St. John’s Medical College in MD (community medicine). Her first job at Asha Kirana Hospital in Mysore gave her a chance to experience the emotions and behaviour of HIV positive patients who came from different walks of life.
Few years later she moved to Delhi for her research work at Center for Social Development. She returned to the city and was a consultant for many NGOs that work for community health.
In 2013, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) evicted people residing at EWS quarters. The residents were not only deprived of shelter but also food and other basic amenities. Dr. Sylvia was a great help for around 50 families who were dwelling on the road. Many NGOs and multinational companies supporter her endeavour to help the slum-dwellers by providing free medicines and financial assistance.
Parveen Taj, a slum dweller said, “At the time of demolition, I was suffering from a fractured leg and was rushed to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital. Dr. Sylvia ensured financial help, medical support post discharge and also helped my daughter’s education.”
She also helped a number of slum-dwellers to avail treatment at the Primary Health Centre situated at Vannarpet.
Expressing same opinion, another slum dweller, Esther Lakshmi, said, “My grandson was admitted to a school by Dr. Sylvia. She and friends paid the school fee. When my daughter Suganthi suffered burn injuries in a fire accident, she arranged funds for treatment and also advised the government officials to issue disability certificate.”
Arun Selva, a member of PUCL said, “Dr. Sylvia and team of volunteers helped in chipping with the basic health care. People living in slums could not afford a square meal post demolition and health checkup like blood pressure, diabetes and anemia became a primary concern. Thanks to Sylvia that she served the people without any expectations in return. She also ensured that frequent health check-up of slum-dwellers takes place and children get education at schools.”
Venkatraman Iyer, a resident of Koramnagala 3rd Block said, “I have not met Dr. Sylvia personally but have heard a lot about her contribution towards community health. Severe cold and open drains added to the woes of people dwelling on the roads. She is like an angel for them.’’ Dr. Sylvia has a family. She manages to spend time with her family in spite of her busy schedule in serving the community. She said, “My inspiration was my father who was an investigation officer at Indian Air Force. He involved in community service and then I realized that I too have to contribute to society.”
Her policy is to help poor and under privileged to become independent from being dependent.
She is a writer and a cartoonist. Her Blog ‘Random Thoughts’ has her writings that are thought provoking largely based on the current issues prevailing in the country. Her paintings express the various issues concerning women. This story of Sylvia is soul searching for those who can serve the community and still throw up their hands in the air and continue to be silent spectators.