Sai Health Fair 2014-An Exemplary Outreach
Initiative for the
Bhutanese in Atlanta
Text and Pics.By Mahadev Desai
Dr. Sujatha Reddy has been the driving force behind 30 SAI
Health Fairs-a charitable forum providing free and low cost
medical services to the poor, uninsured, and the underinsured.
With her contagious enthusiasm and innate compassion and resolve
to help the underprivileged, she tries to help whoever she can.
And so during the harsh winter weather last year, her thoughts
turned to the Bhutanese people in Atlanta. The Bhutanese
refugees arrived in Georgia in 2007, under the US Resettlement
program. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy located at the
Eastern end of the Himalayas separated from Nepal by the Indian
State of Sikkim. Many Nepalese had migrated to Bhutan in the
1800s and settled down in Southern Bhutan. These Bhutanese were
the citizens of the country. However, in the past two decades,
their citizenship was revoked, properties confiscated and they
were expelled from Bhutan because they were predominantly Hindus
from Nepal. About 140,000 of them have lived in UN refugee camps
for the past fifteen to twenty years. The US has offered to
settle 60,000 of these refugees over a five year period and
Atlanta is one of the resettlement centers.1.1 square mile of
Clarkston in Georgia is home to refugees from over 40 countries
and 54 languages.
There are about 5,000 Bhutanese living here.
In the past SEWA International supported by 31 leading Georgia
community organizations have helped these refugees to settle
down and integrate in the community at large. They have been
helped with food, clothing, shelter, home appliances, toys,etc.
They have been helped to find jobs, given driving lessons,
English language classes etc. But lot remains to be done. Mother
Teresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a
drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that
missing drop”. Firm believer in this, Dr.Reddy met with
Ms.Manikala Basnet,President of the Hindu Buddhist Spiritual
Center in Clarkston to ascertain how best she could help the
Bhutanese community. From December 2013 onwards she loaded her
car and made seven trips to the Temple with warm clothing, car
seats, strollers,empty suitcases, etc. And handed this over to
Manikala to distribute among the needy Bhutanese people.
|Dr.Panini with a
||Dr.Reddy flanked by
Manikala and Birendra
Knowing that the Bhutanese who are struggling financially cannot
afford prohibitive medical services, Dr.Reddy decided to
organize a SAI Health Fair for the Bhutanese community, at the
easily accessible Hindu Buddhist Spiritual Center in Clarkston.
The Center is well attended by the Bhutanese community. Its Vice
President Birendra Dhakal said that the Center celebrates major
Hindu and other festivals. It also holds English language
classes, Civic duties and Citizenship classes. The Health Fair
was in two parts; Part one on Saturday March 8 and Part 2 on the
following Saturday,March 15,
On Saturday, March 8,many Bhutanese turned up for the Blood
tests provide by American Clinical Lab.,Inc. The Registration
Desk and Lab.Collection Area were manned by Mrs.Geetha Raghu,
Bidur Dangal;Roma Basnett,Damber Khatiwoda , Shabika Subedi and
Abishkar Chhetri. Volunteers Tika Rizal and Anju Chhetri helped
the patients with blood tests and consultations.Geetha Raghu is
a well-known and respected figure at the Hindu Temple of
Atlanta, Riverdale. She also conducts Chinmaya Mission Atlanta’s
Bal Vihara Gita classes at the Temple. Dr.Aruna Panini, of
Kirkwood Family medicine-Grady Health System, provided free
consultancy services. Complimentary breakfast was provided on
both Saturdays by Dr.Reddy.
||Dr.Tulasi Vanapalli's Yoga session
On Saturday, March 15,the results of the Blood Tests were
delivered. Dr.Reddy requested the attendees to go to GAPI
Volunteers Clinic on first and third week of the month for any
follow-up work needed. Dr.Nimisha Trivedi (Family Medicine)from
McDonough gave voluntary consultancy services. Dr.Supriti Balyan
provided dentistry consultation. The attendees enjoyed doing
basic yoga exercises with yoga expert Dr.Tulasi Vanapalli known
for her enthusiasm, dedication and love for yoga. She also
provided consultancy services in Internal Medicine.
This Health Fair was made possible by Sangisetty Charitable
Organization,professionals and volunteers. Dr.Reddy is already
planning to do more to help the Bhutanese. “Service to humanity
is service to God” has been the guiding mantra for Reddy who
feels she is doing God’s work.
“Service to humanity is service to God” has been the guiding
mantra for Reddy who feels she is doing God’s work.