Bengaluru: What can one expect from an alumni association? Monthly meetings and parties? Well, not exactly. The Alumni Association of St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru has a different school of thought, which is to serve as many people as possible, not just in the city but across the country. The association aims to bring smiles to the faces of children in rural areas.
At present, the association work is being handled by its president Dr Praveen Rodrigues and his team, who are trying to maintain the core essence of the association. “It is all about serving the unserved or reaching the unreached,” explains Dr Rodrigues.
This association, which consists of doctors who have graduated from the premier institution, is on a mission to help and improve the quality of life. “We are a secular social organisation working beyond any boundaries,” says Dr Rodrigues.
Started 40 years ago, the association works to holistically improve the condition of people living in rural areas. These doctors not only invest money, but also their time by going to rural areas and treating needy patients. “We generate money through charities and other events and source medicines and equipment needed by our doctors, nurses and sisters working in rural areas,” he says. Citing an example, he says the association quickly raised money to get anti-snake venom vials and sent them to a remote village in Maharashtra, where nurses linked to the association were working.
“Currently, over 700 of our alumni serve in remote rural areas by working in mission hospitals, bond centres and other non-governmental organisations, covering over 2,500 villages across the country. We have won laurels in the field of medicine and beyond,” he says proudly.
Dr Kamini Rao, who was conferred the Padma Shri for her work in gynaecology in 2014, is also an active member of the association.
“Over the last 50 years, we have more than 700 alumni who have been permanently serving in such regions. The association regularly conducts academic programmes, such as orations, workshops and Continuing Medical Education Schemes (SMEs) for such doctors and nurses. Many of these activities are focused towards primary care physicians, and the alumni. We work at improving the condition of rural people and helping our doctors, nurses and sisters to work efficiently,” he says.
The association recently adopted Marathahalli village on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Dr Rodrigues says, “Our project focuses on healthcare, sanitation, garbage disposal and education to sustain the changes effected. The key beneficiaries will be the people from Marathahalli and surrounding villages. We have also roped in some well-known doctors from the city.”
The association, which has a corpus, supports rural outreach programmes and student scholarships. “We fund students who would have discontinued their medical studies because of financial problems. We fund deserving students from other streams too,” he says. “We have launched the corpus fund to help deserving patients in rural settings,” he says.