Sunday, July 14, 2024

Changing the curse of God to a blessing

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Being a sevak in the true sense, we bring to you the journey of Ashish Gautam, founder of Divya Prem Sewa Mission, which aims at rescuing the children of leprosy-diagnosed victims and providing aid to the sufferers.

Shikha Duggal

Since ancient times leprosy instilled the practice of fear in many societies because of the associated physical disfigurement and lack of understanding behind its cause! Because of the historical trauma the word leprosy invokes, the disease is now referred to as Hansen’s disease, named after the bacterial agent that causes Hansen’s disease. But, more than the physical manifestations — the mental injury being caused to them and their families are far worsening. Their children are being abandoned on baseless rumours — while the disease isn’t hereditary.

To rescue the children of leprosy-diagnosed victims, and provide aid to the sufferers because the impact of the meaning of disease is more unpleasant: Divya Prem Sewa Mission is helming the ground for such infants.

“It is not a matter of pride for lepers, but it is a distinguished honour for us, that they have provided us an opportunity to serve them. I dedicated some of the best years of my life to serving the untouched, needy, and poor. I was born in a modest rural family in Hamirpur.

However, I am no ordinary person but a man with a vision to change the world that we live in. From my early childhood, I was attracted towards spiritualism and philosophy. While pursuing my studies at Allahabad university, I was deeply motivated by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and decided to follow the path of self-realisation. During my studies, I  encountered several religious organisations including RSS, but my restless mind forced me to seek peace at Himalayas. Post that stint, I began this mission,” shared the founder Ashish Gautam.

Divya Prem Sewa Mission is situated under the benevolent vision of goddess Chandi devi. A casual visitor may easily overlook this place from a distance that is basically named as Sewa Kunj also, but those who take some pains to reach up to the ashram, realize that they are in a different world.Calm green surroundings in a traditional atmosphere, give a unique aesthetics and add to the distinct charm of the ashram.

He continued to talk about his journey, “I meditated at the Himalayas for several years to reach the path of salvation. I was destined to serve humanity and realised that I could serve god by helping the poor, deprived, and needy.The philanthropic quest finally landed me to Haridwar. I saw the most miserable and detested people, who resided in temporary hutments in Chandighat, a stone’s throw away from Har ki pauri. It was a colony of lepers!”

He sought shelter from one of the sadhus in the chandighat and started dressing the wounds of these lepers. Soon, several of his colleagues followed him in this noble cause and there was a large team of volunteers to support him.People affirmed their interests and started providing charities and funds for the medicine and building up the necessary structure.The small makeshift medical facility laid the foundation stone of the present day.

He further shared, “I never had any success criteria in my mind, when starting this mission. The sole purpose was the service of the lepers. I simply could not withstand the agony of these lepers, with one wounded person dressing the other bleeding person. My friends and family initially cautioned me about serving these people and suggested that I might catch the disease myself. However, I am perfectly healthy, which disproves this popular myth. Perhaps, the biggest success that this mission has achieved is that politicians, journalists, students, spiritual leaders, and government officials now visit this ashram without fear. The attitude of the society is changing towards the lepers, at least here.”

Ashish and his team also managed to convince a final-year medical student, Dr. Nitin Agarwal, to sit at their primitive dispensary for a couple of hours daily. The people now realized that these boys are not fly-by-night operators and started trusting them.

Soon, the lepers and other poor people started flowing in for the want of medical care. “We want to build a separate school building for resident and day boarding students.We plan to involve the students in some productive enterprises to enable them to earn while they learn. We want to involve all who care. We were extremely touched when the Roadies Revolution team reached out to us, and gave us funds.Not just that, they even visited our Asharam — cooked modern delicacies for the kids of leprosy-affected parents and entertained them to no extent. In spite of being, such huge celebrities: they were so grounded.”

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