Tribune News Service
Phagwara, October 10
We need more people like him. UK-based NRI Ashok Mehra (51) and his family have been doing yeoman’s service for the poor families of Punjab. Associated with NGO Punarjot for almost a decade, they have organised nearly 500 seminars promoting eye donation and have got as many as 1 lakh forms filled for the cause.
Mehra, who has worked as a pharmaceutical packaging technologist in London, now owns a salon, a gym and an academy for personality development in Phagwara. In the last 10 years, he has organised nearly 500 eye camps in Punjab. “During each of these camps, nearly 500 people have got their eyes checked and about 200-250 have got their spectacles made. Nearly 50 patients turning up at each of these camps have got their cataract surgeries done free of cost,” he shared.
The 500 eye camps that we have organised have been funded by my family. The rest has been done through the support of my friends and do-gooders of society. There are several people who keep on contacting me offering financial aid. All those interested in offering help are told to provide tea, coffee or packed meals directly to patients in a hospital. I just coordinate and collaborate for such works. —Ashok Mehra, An NRI
As the state coordinator of Punarjot, Mehra has been at it. He and his firm have been successful in collecting 100 eyes from the deceased persons. About 60 people in Punjab got to see the light. Not only this. “Since I am also the international coordinator of the organisation, we have also got 5,200 successful eye transplants done abroad,” he said.
Mehra’s philanthropic activities are not just limited here. “I have also got done two state-level music competitions organised for the visually impaired and gifted them items like harmonium etc worth Rs1 lakh in each of the two events. We are also working in the slum areas of Mehatpur (Jalandhar) and on Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road,” he told, adding, “we have adopted some children and are providing them education through temporary schools. Some small development works in their colonies such as installation of solar lamps and son on has also been carried out.”
A postgraduate in Punjabi from Patiala University, Mehra is also planning to up the ante. “We are now focusing on a new project which is promoting organ and body donation. We recently encouraged a mother to donate a kidney for his ailing child and in turn provided them entire medical aid of Rs4.5 lakh. We have also got donated 40 bodies for medical education in PIMS Jalandhar and DMC Ludhiana,” he spoke of other activities being undertaken. In Ludhiana, a music studio in a school for the visually challenged children at a cost RsRs 45,000 was also set up, apart from a medicine bank, wherein people leave behind medicines not required by them. “We check their expiry dates and batch numbers and hand over these to the needy patients,” he added.
But, what about funding? How is he managing that sphere? He revealed: “The 500 eye camps that we have organised have been funded by my family. The rest has been done through the support of my friends and do-gooders of the society. There are several people who keep on contacting me offering financial aid.” He has never taken any from them — instead made them tie-up with the attendants of the patients. “All those interested in offering help are told to provide tea, coffee or packed meals directly to the patients in a hospital. I just coordinate and collaborate for such works.”
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