Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Calgarian helps bring health services to women in India

Dr. Anil Jain, CFO of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, holds a photo of the hospital he helped start and still helps run in India, while at his Calgary office, on Sept. 23, 2015. CRYSTAL SCHICK


Five years ago I wrote about the work of Calgary businessman Anil Jain and his family to fulfil his mother’s dream of providing a clinic for women in her village of Sarurpur in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Maya Devi had raised her own family in the community of 50,000 that was without a hospital.

Women with health problems — particularly in giving birth when complications arose — had to take a long and arduous trip to the city for help.

Jain, who had retired from Petro-Canada, where he was senior director of supply chain, was introduced to Rotary Club of Calgary Centennial, which contributed funds and set about involving the mighty, caring machine called Rotary International.

Shortly after I attended a Centennial meeting to hear about the project and wrote about the formation of a Calgary board to support it, a $42,000 cheque was received from Subway’s charity arm in Vancouver.

The board received charitable status and other Calgary Rotary clubs became involved. It was awarded a grant from the Alberta government and construction began on a small piece of land donated by Jain’s late mother.

Thanks to the generosity of many Calgarians, five Calgary Rotary clubs and another in Phoenix, along with government support, the Maya Devi Hospital is up and running. It has transformed the community of Sarurpur and the region offering care and health education to women and children.

The 6,400-square-foot facility became a source of local pride during the construction and many contractors showed their support by dropping prices, offering the best granite at standard prices and the planned plain ceilings were carved by craftsmen in decorative floral designs.

The Calgary board of 13, chaired by Aziza Kotadia, has done a remarkable job in raising funds, addressing education in nutrition and hygiene and obtaining sanitary napkins at cost thanks to a generous offer by Johnson & Johnson. Annual major sponsor Advanced Orthomolecular Research is contributing another $20,000 this year.

The board set up foundations in India (Mother Foundation) and Canada (Child Foundation) to raise the money in building and operating the 20-bed hospital that saw a lineup of patients on its first day. Designed to serve only 3,000 patients in its first year, it treated 14,000.

The Calgary board has big plans to not only increase that number with the help of Canadian doctor volunteers, but wants to provide equipped Medivans, with a doctor, nurse and driver, to visit surrounding communities. Child Foundation will raise more than $60,000 to purchase and operate each van and also has its eyes on a much-needed $40,000 machine to conduct X-rays on site.

With Calgary-based CAWST it is also looking at ways to ensure the community has clean water.
The cost of fundraising has been kept to just 2 per cent. One of the ways in which many volunteers help is an annual fundraising dinner. Magnolia Banquet Hall in Falconridge is the venue for the Friday, Oct. 2 event.

And Jain not only joined Rotary and accepted the position as president of his Centennial club he also serves as assistant district governor.

Thanks to some caring Calgarians and Rotary many thousands of women and children are living a healthier, safer life.

David Parker appears Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business.

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