If you were earning 8,000 rupees a month and had couple of mouths to feed, how much would you spend on helping poor patients in getting admission to hospitals? Are you crazy? With 8000 a month with four mouths to feed, how can you expect me to spend even a penny on such charity!! Most of us would answer in a similar tone.
But, Ravi Saxena thinks otherwise. Ravi runs a tea-stall at a roadside in East Delhi’s Ghazipur area. His monthly earning is just about Rs 8,000. He works for 20 days a month. What does he do for rest of the 10 days? Well, in those 10 days, he helps poor patients get admission to hospitals in Delhi. Does he get the support of his friends and family? No. They rather, discourage him and persuade him to look after his tea-stall and earn a little more. But, for him, these poor patients come first.
How did it all start for Ravi? Six years back, he got a call from a health volunteer about a 70-year-old man suffering from asthma who had to be hospitalized. Ravi agreed to help. He took all the pain to meet the nodal officer for Economically Weaker Section category and got that poor patient admitted. Ravi stayed with that patient for five days. The bill came to Rs 70,000 and the hospital waived it off, as the patient was referred by the nodal office of EWS. Since then, Ravi has come to help many critically ill and desperately poor people.
Ravi had the knowledge of a Supreme Court directive in 2011 which said that 48 private hospitals in Delhi should reserve 10% of their in-patient department capacity and 25% of their OPD for free treatment of poor patients. The ruling was made on the ground that private hospitals received subsidized land after giving an undertaking that they would provide free treatment to EWS. Most hospitals are willing. One even waived off a whopping bill of Rs 26 lakh for a kidney patient admitted for eight months. Some, however, don’t fall in line. One reportedly refused to treat a poor man with stomach cancer. A case was filed against it by an NGO.
What does Ravi expect in lieu of his work for the poor? For Ravi, he never helps others with an expectation to get something in return. He feels happy to do so. People respect him for his work. That respect keeps him going.