Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Evening with the Amtes

I have been fortunate to meet and interact with two Ramon Magsaysay awardees during my time at IRMA. Last year I met Dr.Kurien who inspite of his bad health was as witty and may I say as proud as ever!
Today evening, we had the wonderful opportunity to interact with Prakash and Mandakini Amte who won the Magsaysay award in 2008 for community leadership for their work in Gadchiroli district. Son and daughter-in-law of the legendary Baba Amte, the Amte couple has worked with the tribals in one of the most impoverished district of Maharashtra for the last three decades.
Dr.Amte spoke of the hardships they faced when they started hemalkasa.They lived on rice, dal and some pickle for 12 years as other items were not available due to lack of infrastructure.They were serving a community which had not interacted with any other part of society. They lived on snakes, rats and red ants. Starvation deaths were normal.Immense personal sacrifices (though they dont call it sacrifice) were also made. Their son was educated in the same school they had started and had problems completing his MBBS.But the grit, commitment never wavered.
Today they have built a hospital, school which has resulted in the tribal community having their first doctors, surgeons, engineers, lawyers, etc and an orphanage for wild animals.Videos of the family playing with leopards and snakes revealed the symbiotic relationship the family had with the environment.
Extremely humble and simple, the Amte family won everyone's hearts. That one can remain so humble and simple inspite of so many achievements is indeed humbling and remarkable

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