A Story of Selfless Love and Oneness (Ekam) in abundance:
Karuna Pai Jun 29, 2019 288 Views 0 Comments
A Story of Selfless Love and Oneness (Ekam) in abundance:
Pediatrician by specialization, Dr. Sailakshmi Balijepalli (Sai) mission is reducing the child mortality rate among the poor by raising their access to quality healthcare in India. Child mortality death trends in India are high and 6 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday. These are deaths that can be avoided through prevention and treatment, education and proper health care. Rarely does one come across a highly qualified doctor giving up her medical practice in pursuit of providing healthcare to newborn and children whose parents cannot afford intensive care. Thus she founded Ekam Foundation in Chennai in 2009, a not-for-profit organization. Dr. Sai is also the recipient of several awards including the -Nari Shakti Puraskar in honor of her selfless work.
Top Pick Media spoke to this amazing humanitarian who, moved by experiences with infants dying for want of medical care, decided to dedicate her life to ensuring “No child will be denied the right to quality health care”.
Karuna: From a young age it’s be natural to you to be selfless. In fact, you sacrificed a job opportunity to attend to the victims of the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001. When did you recognize your purpose was to support a greater cause and need than your own?
Dr.SaiLakshmi: First of all it was never a sacrifice, it was highly self-centered. I believe that ‘Giving with Generosity comes naturally to the human spirit & nature always responds with lots of love and abundance when the intentions are pure’. It’s certainly been a beautiful spiritual journey with Ekam. This has always been my calling and if I had chosen anything else, that would have been the sacrifice! Ekam gives us this amazing opportunity and immense pleasure to take care of children and mothers. In turn, beautiful souls have come into my life and they have taught me and given me so much more.
Karuna: Mother Teresa is your inspiration & you are certainly following in her footsteps with the birth of your brain child Ekam Foundation. Tell us the genesis of Ekam foundation.
Dr.SaiLakshmi: During my days as a post graduate student, I saw a huge disparity in supply and demand of medical care especially in the public hospitals. For example, if 10 sick children came to the hospital only 5 got treated and the rest were turned down due to a shortage of life saving drugs, equipment, man power, lab investigations etc. When a parent learns that treatment cost for their child is anywhere from 3 to 4 lakhs, they are willing to sacrifice their sick child and have another healthy child instead, as they cannot afford treatment.
As doctors we want to treat all children brought to us and shouldn’t have to be faced with the dilemma of financials constraints hence was sown the seed of Ekam in 2009 with very strong intentions:
- No children should be refused health care due to financial constraints
- No parent should feel guilty that they are unable to afford treatment for their child and
- No hospital should refuse medical treatment due to financial constraints
Karuna: Ekam foundation has been growing in the rural parts of India and brought down child mortality rate since 2009. How are you growing Ekam NGOs and Chapters outside India?
Dr.SaiLakshmi: The support from my medical school classmates in setting up Ekam Chapters has been tremendous. Dr. Neelama & Dr. Aruna from Baton Rouge and Dr. Shilpa from San Jose have been instrumental in setting up Ekam USA In 2016, 501 (c ) (3) organization. Ekam Chapter in Canada is spearheaded by Dr. Rama and in the UK by Dr. Ajay.
Each Chapter adopts a district in Tamil Nadu, the goal is to provide them with an understanding of the dynamics of maternal and child healthcare. We have a completely transparent model where they can assess how their intervention is helping in lowering mortality rate. This year we are focusing on a second initiative, ‘Youth Ambassador Program’. The Youth is our future and we want to instill these values in them to carry Ekam forward.
It’s been an incredible feeling of Oneness (Ekam) as we have set up almost 20 chapters since 2016.
Karuna: You have received several awards for your work. But when you were honored with the highest award -Nari Shakti Puraskar award in 2015, how did that moment feel?
Dr.SaiLakshmi: To me the best award is the smile on the mothers’ face when they receive their healthy child in their arms. The first thought that occurred to me was “how can a small organization like Ekam receive such a big award”! But I gathered it was a sign from God saying “you better do more, that’s why you’ve been given this award”. I certainly felt honored when I received this award and I assure that with this movement of oneness we will continue to reach out and serve.
Karuna: What is your dream for the future of Ekam foundation?
Dr.SaiLakshmi: We want to grow the Chapters globally, where countries with resources can support the ones in need. We are setting up chapters in USA as a model for the rest of the world. We would like to scale it up to other states across India and connect it with different parts of the world creating Global Oneness. We need to work on a war footing as the statics are very glaring. We have a complete technical model that can be replicated across in supporting the mothers and children in need.
Karuna: Can you share special story that impacted you?
Dr.SaiLakshmi: I recall this story of a beautiful soul from my days in House Surgeoncy. She was totally emaciated and unconscious when admitted. For two months we took care of her & developed a bond. Sometimes, we would literally steal medicines for her care. But when she recovered and left, instead of feeling happy, I experienced a feeling of incompleteness. I realized that it wasn’t me giving her but she was the one who gave me this immense feeling of healing!
I realize every child that has come to Ekam has impacted me, given this immense feeling of healing & wonderful opportunity to reach out. It is we who have been blessed and I always thank God, my parents and everyone who has been a part of this Oneness journey.
For information on how you too can make an impact at Ekam, open chapters, become a youth
ambassador or simply spread the word of Oneness and Abundance, please go to ekamusa.org .