The year was 1985 and Mr. Deorao Kolhe was working with Indian Railways. His son, Ravindra, was doing his MBBS from Nagpur Medical College. Everyone was waiting for the young man to finish his studies and return to his village Shegaon; Ravindra would be the first doctor in the family.
Dr. Kolhe decided he wanted to offer his services at some place that was far away from any medical facility. He chose Bairagarh, a small village in Melghat, Maharashtra. The journey to Melghat started from Amravati and all transport ended at Harisal, from where one had to walk 40 km to reach Bairagarh.
“everyone knew that children were dying in Melghat due to malnutrition, or people were dying of pneumonia, malaria, snake bites, etc. So far, researchers used to find out just the reason behind the deaths, but no one researched the reason behind the reason for the deaths, which was poverty. They died of pneumonia because they didn’t have enough clothes to keep them warm in winter. They died of malnutrition because they had no work and hence no money once the farming season was over. We wanted to ‘cure’ these root causes of death,” says Dr. Ravindra Kolhe.
Dr. Kolhe returned to Melghat with a true companion, Dr. Smita Kolhe in 1989. Dr. Ravindra and Dr. Smita successfully worked on improving the health conditions in Bairagarh. The doctor couple has spent a better part of their lives in Melghat, the impoverished tribal region of Maharashtra known for appalling stories of malnutrition, farmer suicides, and other issues in order to make lives of the people of Melghat better.
Dr. Kolhe and Dr. Premchand Pandit started ‘The Prayer Eye Hospital’ at Kolupur, Melghat in 2016, so that the tribal patients will get all the necessary treatment facility in Melghat, and will not have to go outside for eye problems.
‘The Prayer Eye Hospital’ does not charge anything to patients, it is 100 percent charity. If a patient does not turn up for follow-up check-up, their doctor goes to his home for the same and gives necessary treatment.
The hospital works on Saturdays and Sundays at present.
Funds required for instruments –
1) Zeiss Microscope Rs 900000,
2) Oertli Phaco higher model Rs1750000,
3) Grand Seiko Auto refractometer with Keratometer Rs 390000,
Total Rs 3040000.