Seema Saadhika, a young doctor from Karnataka, is one such heroic personality of our society. During her days as a student of medicine, she used to take part in health camps organized in different rural areas and then gradually developed an interest in helping needy people. In 2015, she started an NGO named ‘Namma Mitra Foundation’, which focuses on community development in villages of Karnataka. The organization works on projects to address several issues like health and hygiene, education, environment, employment, etc. The volunteers conduct surveys in different villages to find out specific problems the people facing there and try to draw a plan to resolve the issues.
Seema was a medical student and used to go in health camps in rural areas. During her one such visit to North Karnataka rural area, she came to know about the distressing condition of the villagers who could not afford health care services. Except for the periodical health camps, there was no health center in such areas. People there were living in abject misery without proper medical support. Due to poverty, they could not afford the private treatment as well.
Knowing the plight of the poor folks, Dr. Seema decided to look into matters other than health and solve issues. She started her work from the village of Banadur of Karnataka. However, the task she had taken up was not much unproblematic. The villagers there were not united when it came to making decisions on everyday affairs. The first difficulty Seema faced was to bring them on the same page in a discussion. There were some religious and other social prejudices between the people. At last, after a lot of surveys and research, Seema came to the conclusion that the best way to make the villagers work together on solving their problems would be through children.
Together with her volunteers, Dr. Seema started working with the children – understanding the kind of challenges they faced and where they needed help. They found that the children were bright but many of them had to drop out from schools, or they could not score enough marks. Lack of resources was a major reason behind this. Even there was no electricity in the village at that time. It would be dark by the time they returned from schools, and could not study anything later at home. To help them in the matter, Namma Mitra Foundation installed a mini solar-grid in the village, which would provide electricity to 70 houses, and street lights. With electricity in the village, children now could study after sunset, and people would commute as well, which earlier people dreaded because of the fear of wild beasts in the dark.
Also, the students needed extra classes to get additional help with a few subjects that they couldn’t understand well at school. But no teacher would come to the village and teach. So Dr. Seema came up with the idea of E-learning. She set up a smart classroom system that helped students gain access to audio-visual content. Having been established inside an Anganwadi center, children are free to study in E-learning room and discuss their ideas and more. The content, which is in the form of animations, live-experiments, etc. is played for the students to watch and learn using a projector. The recordings of topic-wise explanations for all subjects are available that secondary school students study. The E-learning center is open from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm daily. They have a young college student as the in-charge of E-learning program. The materials are in Kannada and English languages, and the content has been drawn according to the syllabus. The best part is that solar energy also powers E-learning, so students can come to study here when there is no electricity. The initiative has encouraged the kids, and their marks are also improving. At current, over 40 kids come to the center every day.
Namma Mitra engages people from the community itself. One person has been employed to look after the solar grid and maintain it. Every month, the organization collects Rs. 20 from the each house in the village and that money is utilized for the maintenance of the solar grid and to pay a remuneration to the caretaker.
During her surveys, Dr. Seema came across two guys in the village who suffered from muscular atrophy. Unable to move at all, the two needed someone’s help even to go to the toilet. Hopeless about their pathetic condition, they would never share their problems with Seema. However, she noticed that they used to repair radios and were fascinated by the working of phones. They liked to open them up, understand how they work, how they can be fixed, etc. She then organized a vocational training on repairing cell phones. Almost six people in the village joined the training program, apart from the two disabled. The duo now has a repair shop. They see this as a challenge and earn their living doing something they love.
Besides, Namma Mitra has also started a tailoring training center for men and women and is working on setting up a computer class in the village school.
As a doctor trained in functional medicine, Dr. Seema Saadhika’s career as a specialist in her field was blooming. But seeing the miseries of the deprived folks, she turned to things that seemed to her more important than anything else in life. There was no transportation facility, not even electricity in the village. People did not get any support from government and local panchayats. The Anganwadi and the state-run school had provisions only up to class 5, after which children had to trudge miles to reach the nearest secondary school. She figured out that only conducting a quarterly health camp or funding education through a non-profit enterprise was of little or no use. With a few like-minded individuals, Seema set up the Namma Mitra, a non-profit venture to reach the rural masses and help them at the grass-root level. The dedication towards such social works shown by the young lady is just phenomenal. She has dedicated herself to serving the needy ones. Her works are still on, and they are expanding and taking the same projects to other villages as well.