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Darpan Salutes

Providing Free Medical Treatment to Those in Need

GARIMA GOSWAMI, 12 Sep, 2018

    Under their organization, Doctor for Beggars, Dr. Abhijit Sonawane and his wife Dr. Manisha Sonawane treat individuals that do not have financial means for medical treatment.

    Dr. Abhijit Sonawane and his wife Dr. Manisha Sonawane are working together to bring medicine to the most deprived group of individuals in Pune, India. Under their organization, Doctor for Beggars, the duo treat individuals that do not have financial means for medical treatments. “Under this initiative, we provide all the basic health care and investigations on [the] road itself to the elder beggars, who are abandoned by their families and who are begging just to survive in this world,” says Dr. Abhijit. 
    Every morning, Dr. Abhijit heads out to various locations such as temples, mosques and churches where a majority of homeless seniors assemble to seek donations. He carries with him two bags full of medicine, conducts check ups, and provides free medicine to those that are in need. “To attain this objective, we daily visit to Mandir, Mosque and Church during 10:00-4:00pm and interact with beggars, carry out medical check-up and [provide] all other related medical services,” he says. 
    For Dr. Abhijit, this is a way of giving back to a section of society that supported him when he was unemployed and broke. Dr. Abhijit explains that during a phase in his life when he was not earning and struggling to survive without food, a senior couple that was also homeless and surviving off of financial donations, started helping him. 
    This couple would keep a share of food for him and also lend any money that they could whenever he needed any. Not only did they provide material help, but also supported him emotionally. Now that he can, Dr. Abhijit is extending his support to those who are the most neglected and in need of crucial support. 
    Under Doctor for Beggars, Dr. Abhijit not only assists with medical and emotional support, but also provides counselling to the homeless seniors so they can start their own businesses. “We create [a] relationship with them as their family member. Once we build the rapport with them, we start counselling and convincing them to leave this begging trade,” Dr. Abhijit says and adds, “We are proud to say that since April 2017, we have supported 42 elder beggars to leave [the] begging trade.” This was part of his initiative called, Beggars to Entrepreneurs. 
    A total of 761 homeless individuals registered with Dr. Abhijit are receiving medical support. “But, provision of health care is not our objective, our mission is to reach up to their heart.... by using this path.” 
    In addition, he says their goal is to make these individuals self-sufficient. A total of 101 cataract operations have been conducted by Dr. Abhijit and his wife. When medical care cannot be provided on the road, Dr. Abhijit relocates them to a public or private hospital.
    Dr. Manisha Sonawane plays a crucial role in the operation of the organization. While Dr. Abhijit dedicates his daily routine to the service of those that are not financially independent, his wife operates a clinic where a majority of their financial support comes from. “People ask us, how we survive. The answer is, we have one small clinic,” he says. 
    His wife runs the clinic during the day while he joins in later during the evening. “The income we are getting, we use 60 percent for ourselves and 30 percent for our beggar family, though it is not sufficient for us and for them, we do manage somehow with [the] blessings and small donations of society.”
    Apart from running his organization, Doctor for Beggars, Dr. Abhijit is also focusing on Beggars to Entrepreneurs so that more individuals can become financially independent. In a recent interview with an Indian media house, he mentioned, “I urge everybody to treat these people as human beings and not to give them money as that way they are making them dependent on them. They should instead help them find work.” To support Dr. Abhijit and Dr. Manisha Sonawane’s intitiative, visit:

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