|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home |Volume 5, Issue 46, Tuesday, November 23, 2010|
Kumudini Hospital a diamond in the rough
Nestled on the banks of a river in the impoverished region of Mirzapur, at Tangail, lies a glorious model of philanthropy and a shining example for those who want to improve the situations of our impoverished countrymen: Kumudini Hospital and its affiliate institutions. What is even more worthy of praise is that this venture is almost seventy years old, and the institution has been growing in its scope of philanthropic activities throughout this period.
The story behind its inception is one that every Bangladeshi should be proud of. It is perhaps no surprise that such an enduring venture into humanitarian generosity was born out of the love of a child for his mother, and the pain caused by the mother's death. So it was with Rai Bahadur Ranada Prasad Shaha, the founder. Born in 1896 to Debendra Kumar and Srimati Kumudini, he had to endure the heartache of his mother passing away from tetanus infection when he was only seven years of age.
After a bit of a wayward streak, precipitated perhaps by the loss of a beloved parent, Shaha ran away from home, and after a long time it was learnt that he was in Calcutta, living the hard life and doing odd jobs such as selling newspapers at Hawra Railway Station, and working as a ticket collector in the railway. He had also joined the Swadeshi Movement against the British occupation, for which he was jailed.
When the First World War started, he enlisted in the Medical Corps of the British Bengal Regiment, where he performed his duties with distinction. He was given a gallantry award for saving some British officers from a fire. Returning to Calcutta with his reputation enhanced, he took up trading in coal, starting with door-to-door coal supply, and gradually progressed to larger supply orders. Thus a wealthy Ranada Prasad Shaha was born through sheer hard work.
In 1939, Shaha started a joint river transportation business by the name of Bengal River Service, which was to be the core business of all his commercial ventures. All these efforts and ventures were undertaken with only one aim in view; to establish a hospital in his native village of Mirzapur, so that the poor would not perish without medical treatment like his mother had. The hospital would provide all kinds of medical treatment free of cost.
After reaching the pinnacle of success, Shaha placed all his companies and businesses in a Trust with a view to use its proceeds for public welfare. In 1943 a dispensary and outdoor facility in the name of Shaha's paternal grandmother, Srimati Shova Sundari was established. The then Governor of Bengal, Lord Casey, inaugurated the 20-bed facility on July 27, 1944.
In a written address to the guests at the inauguration, Lord Casey summed up the spirit of the endeavour: “I have come here today because I feel that this hospital affords a high example of what can be done when the initiative, enterprise and public spirit of one man are directed towards the welfare and the well being of the community.”
From a 20-bed facility, Kumudini hospital has now grown to a 750-bed facility providing free care to all those who cannot afford medical care.
The Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal has branched out in areas other than medical care, providing a framework for self-help for the impoverished people of the region. Bharateswari Homes is a residential school for girls, starting at class five and going up to class twelve. It is compulsory for students to be residents of the hostel. Besides studies, the girls are required to do regular menial work so that they can acquire mental maturity and a hard-working attitude. The students take part in all cleaning, cooking and washing activities.
Bharateswari Homes has a total of 1200 seats, and students are selected regardless of religion, caste or social status. The aim is to inculcate discipline in its residents enabling them to emerge as upstanding, self-reliant members of society.
There is also the Kumudini Hospital School of Nursing, established in 1973 with the objective of bringing out trained nurses. Like every other endeavour of this noble Trust, this has a strong philanthropic underpinning, with many destitute and distressed widows being trained as nurses, who are now working in the hospital.
The Kumudini Women's Medical College was established in 2001 within the hospital complex with a view to fulfil the dream and to uplift medical education among women. Because it is situated within the complex, medical students have the opportunity to be directly involved with the patients in the hospital. Also, they are encouraged to play an active role in the village outreach programmes.
Other than these endeavours, there is also a Trade Training School for young boys and a Handicrafts Centre to utilise the creative output of women in Tangail.
It may be hard to fathom how an institution has maintained standards for such a long time without charging its patients, but the story of its founder should provide some clues. Dr Dulal Chandra Podder, Director of Kumudini Hospital makes a revealing comment about R P Shaha, “It is common to see wealthy people engaging in philanthropic activities after they have accrued all their wealth. But R P Shaha started this Trust at a relatively early stage of his life. It means that this was his aim all along.”
His spirit has continued within the administrators who have succeeded him as the Board of Directors. R P Shaha was the first Managing Director of the Trust, succeeded by his daughter Joya Pati. His grandson, Rajiv Prasad Shaha is the current Managing Director of the Trust, and so the tradition continues.
Those who are interested to see a philanthropic institution in full working order should make their way to Mirzapur, and they will find a veritable utopia of welfare and communal harmony. It is an example we can all learn from.
Going back to work
On my way to work this Sunday, I experienced a different feel of Dhaka. Few cars plied the empty roads; buses and trucks were fewer still. Yet the drivers honked horns for old times' sake. It was as if the now desolate metropolis had not responded to the wake up call. The alarm snoozed and it was back to slumber. The billboards standing witness to an empty city; the shutters of the busy shops now shut, the city waited for another ringing of the alarm.
I was greeted by a CNG driver who willingly agreed to come a long distance for Tk80, a paltry sum for CNG commuters in these days. Maybe he was in the spirit of sacrifice and compassion for fellow human beings and not armed with the butcher's knife going for the kill. At the traffic stoplights, there were no children selling flowers or pirated copies of latest bestsellers. There were no popcorn or “mineral” water.
Dhaka had not woken up and neither had I. I was perpetually jet-lagged, tired and exhausted from all the relaxation and feasting on beef. Yet, as all good things must end, the holiday was finally over and I had headed back to work.
As I snaked my way through the aisles of various cubicles, I was welcomed by empty seats, colleagues missing from action, still continuing their Eid fiesta in their hometowns. Dhakaiites like myself were less fortunate. We are somewhat stuck to our 1200 sft apartments with nowhere to head to even during Eid. We were like caged animals where we could only manoeuvre within confined spaces our homes, work and this city!
At the workstation, there were piles of proof-sheets ready to be read and marked with red ink. Not the best of options to start the first day of work after a long holiday. Staring at the clock, I realised only a few seconds had passed. The second hand moved from three to nine, the minute and hour hands stood motionless where they initially were. Time seemed to have frozen on this lazy day and what was crystal clear was that this would be a long Sunday!
I went upstairs to the canteen and got myself a mug of coffee. I needed caffeine to jumpstart the activities, slice away the lazy fat and finally head back to work.
Returning to my cubicle, I logged onto facebook. Numerous notifications of the last few days remained unattended. From Eid greetings, statuses were finally changed to more pressing issues like going back to normal life. The last few days had seen countless uploads, happy times relished and shared.
With nothing left to do, I decided to start working. Only 15 minutes had passed. And this surely would be a long, long day.
By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Check-list for a healthy life
It is very easy, in the hustle and bustle of modern life, to ignore necessary health precautions. There are some things we should watch out for, no matter how busy we are. In life's onward march there are some essential pit stops to be made.
Get the screenings you need
After a screening test, ask when the results will be available and who you should talk to about them.
If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. Have your cholesterol checked starting at age 20 if:
· You use tobacco.
The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, the largest artery in your body. An AAA may burst, which can cause bleeding and death.
- LS Desk
Not a lot to ask for is it? This however, is one task that makes us anxious. Children often come home with half eaten food, simply because they think it's not scrumptious!
Planning what will go into your child's lunch box need not be a nightmare. Here's a list of tasty recipes including some dips I have given that will have them relishing their food off in no time.
Creamy curried chicken salad sandwich
Combine the chicken, grapes, and cashews in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Salt and pepper the chicken salad to taste.
To assemble the sandwiches, halve the pita breads and place a couple lettuce leaves inside each half. Spoon in the chicken salad.
In a small bowl, add the flour. Pour the buttermilk in another small bowl. Combine the wheat cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh parsley in a medium, shallow bowl and blend well with a whisk.
Dip each fish square into the flour, then the buttermilk, then the cracker crumb mixture. Set the pieces aside and heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.
Spread 1½ tablespoons of canola oil in the frying pan, then place in all 4 fish squares. Fry the fish until the bottoms are golden brown (about 4 minutes), then flip over the fish to brown the other side (about 3 minutes more).
If you're making sandwiches, turn off the heat, lay the cheese slices over the hot fish squares, and cover the pan for a minute to melt the cheese.
Set on a microwave-safe plate, cover with a sheet of waxed paper, and microwave on High for one and a half minutes or until the cheese has melted. Let cool for two minutes, the cut into wedges.
Crunchy chicken fingers
Combine together egg and milk in a shallow dish or bowl. Beat to mix well.
Place tortilla chips in a separate shallow dish or bowl.
Dip chicken first in the egg mixture and then into the crushed chips to coat.
Place the coated chicken on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Turn over and bake for another 10 minutes.
Chicken tikka sandwich
Spread the fillings evenly over four slices and cover with other slices.
Apply butter on the other side and place the sandwich on a preheated grill. Grill them till they turn golden.
Bangla fusion egg rolls
Before the egg sets, place a roti on the egg and press it gently. Flip the roti when the egg is done and cook for a few seconds. Remove the roti from the frying pan and place on a board with the egg side up. Divide the sliced vegetables into 4 portions. Line up one portion of the vegetables in the centre of the roti. Squeeze out some tomato sauce.
Roll up the roti with the vegetables in the centre. Wrap up the roll into lunch paper or greaseproof paper to hold it together. Repeat for the remaining egg mixture, rotis and vegetables ingredients.
One of the best ways to get a healthy lunch into our children's stomachs is to make their lunch experiences fun.
A healthy school tiffin idea is always more successful when children get to play with their food whether it's dunking pita triangles into flavourful hummus, veggies into a nutritious dip, or fruit into a favourite dip or yoghurt.
Home-style hummus with roasted red peppers
Chunky cheese and apple dip
Peanut butter and cheese spread
Peanut butter apple dip
Peanut butter fruit dip
Spicy mango salad
Cheesy apple salad
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