Being there for Lakshmi



Being there for Lakshmi.

So we rode our bicycles from Pune to Ratnagiri. Professor Dr. Ram Dhillon and I. Not the entire nearly 350 Kms, but nearly three-fourth the way, I think.

Mukul Madhav Foundation, the NGO who carried us in their sincere and able arms, did a fine job; health check-up for nearly 3000 less privileged children studying at three Zilla Parishad Schools and one private. They also helped me identify eight deserving less privileged adults who needed bicycles to better their livelihoods with the aid of one. So that Bicycle Angels’ donors Surabhi Shah, Ankita Shah, Radika Radia, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Gauri Bakshi, Natasha Abdullah, Dilnaz and Dinyar Gilder can donate new bicycles to them; reaching out to complete strangers.

I made many observations. One stood out. While we were at a school at Pali and the free medical camp was in progress, in the distance I saw two teen girls approaching our desks. One was limping. The other teen, was holding the limping girl’s hand to aid her walk. Both were engrossed in conversation and laughter. The shorter girl of the two was limping, and as she got closer I realized both her young legs are affected by the devastating cruel polio. A disease, a thief actually that must be singularly responsible for stealing lakhs of able-limbs of our children, restricting their movement, their opportunities and their dreams. Lakshmi is one such girl.

I helped Lakshmi get on to the weighing scale. She balanced herself ably on the scale, even though both her legs were twisted, one more able than the other. I wrote Lakshmi’s weight on her soft palm and in silence watched her limp away to the next desk for her height to be measured. Her limp, her smile and her banter with her accompanying friend, intact.

Lakshmi’s friend always held on to her hand throughout the camp as they moved from one desk to another, the ENT, the Paediatrics, and the Dental desks. I enquired about Lakshmi and her friend. I was curious to know if the girl accompanying Lakshmi is her best friend in school. It is usually our best friends who may come to our aid.

I was told, every day at school a different student from Lakshmi’s class volunteers to help her walk and get around for her tasks. Yes. Every time Lakshmi needs to get up, for whatever reason, a different student volunteers to help her accomplish her varied challenging tasks. And not just her friends.

Learning this fact, I felt hope. Hope for my country, and humanity. Students from all religions and caste help her.
And as I watched an enthusiastic and sincere team of doctors and NGO crew work, I felt, that is exactly what even most good NGOs do. They offer the Lakshmis’ assistance to better their lives. For me, every child in that school who must have helped Lakshmi walk, and will help her in future,help anyone walk in future is a nothing less than a NGO.

The best lesson of all, the thief (polio) had stolen Lakshmi’s lower able limbs but could not lay claim on her laughter. As I watched Lakshmi’s friend lead her away, their banter and random laughters of childhood continued unabated

Smile. Laugh, when you can. Even those far less abled than us do so more often than most of us. 🙂 And let us be there for the Lakshmis’ you may happen to come across someday.Be a NGO to someone, by just even holding their hand.

Last, but not the least, it struck my co rider friend Dr Dhillon, is it possible to gift Lakhshmi semi-independence, if not complete, by salvaging mobility with surgical realignment of her legs, which would completely transform Lakshmi’s life for the better.

Thank you #MukulMadhavFoundation

#RakeshAnandBakshi #BicycleAngels


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