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Chicago physician’s touch transforms Indian village

June 24
23:42 2011

Group of Indian Americans listening to Dr. Kelkar

CHICAGO: A remote and relatively unknown village of Maharashtra – Sangola -has turned into a model for hundreds of thousands of villages in India thanks to a sort of Midas touch applied by a physician and a group of volunteers that wrought a total transformation in all areas of human activity.

Dr. Sanjeevani Kelkar a well known physician and social activist and seven other activists founded Mata Balak Utkarsha Pratisthana ( MBUP) in Sangola near Solapur nearly three decades ago with a view to create and encourage women’s self esteem, self-reliance and through it societal welfare as a whole.

Inspired by a community activist Nanaji, this group has wrought wonders and Chicagonas had a glimpse of this change when Dr Sanjeevani paid a visit to the city and decided to make a presentation to a group of Indian Americans here.

Sangola is also known for computer education. The “Sangola College Sangola & Vidnyan Mahavidyalaya Sangola” are famous institutions for computer education. Students from districts like Kolhapur, Solapur. Sangli and Satara come to Sangola for getting graduate and post graduate degrees in computer science programs.

MBUP, Dr. Sanjeevani said, is a transformational movement generated for the rural society by women of drought prone region of Sangola. Their activities include women uplift, education and health awareness, child development and much more.

She added that as their contacts with rural women improved and after witnessing more incidents of violence against women, they formed another institution under the name of “Anyaya Nivaran Samiti” (a committee for eradication of injustice against women.) The objective of this committee was to provide counseling, legal support and shelter to the suffering women and to fight against social injustice against women in general.

This initiative triggered further projects in the areas of “Mother-child empowerment, especially education and health programs. Today, she said, MBUP has grown to become a vital part of the lives of the people living in the rural areas around Sangola.

Along with this vital program other issues like developing the self-worth of women, health awareness, economic development, habit of saving and fight for justice were also addressed. Since the improvement of economic condition is more important than anything else, counseling facility under ‘Maitrini” was set up for generation of income through starting small businesses like producing juices, pickles, leather works, flour mills among others.

In time a higher elementary school was opened up. Aggressive pursuit of both economic and educational activities improved the general conditions of the people especially making Sangola a better than average educated villages. Now Sangola has an average literacy rate of 73%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 69%.

Along came yet another milestone of economic betterment by the opening of a local branch of NABARD Bank giving further impetus for the growth of small businesses and industries, notably weaving of woolen articles, pomegranate juice extraction, etc. There is much more to do and Dr. Kelkar observed there is need for raising capital of about three lakhs (300,000) every year for the next three years, besides investment of about Rs forty lakhs for infrastructure, either through the local and federal government or through private investments.

Dr. Kelkar and her family have been residents of Sangola for generations, especially her father. Her son and daughter-in-law are settled there and have medical practices in Sangola. In spite of more lucrative opportunities available in larger cities, they are steadfast in their dedication to serve their native village and people. Indeed an admirable trait of character.

If any individual or institution is willing to assist the village in their developmental activities, please contact Mata Balak Utkarsha Pratishthan, Deshpande Lane, Opp. Kelkar Hospital, Sangola, Solapur 413 307, or call 91-2187-220741 or visit [email protected]

Surendra Ullal

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