“It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction whenever I feel I’ve have been able to do something for the poor and underprivileged. I feel energised and a whole new person”, says Mulkjit Kandal who, besides being actively engaged in social work, has also been practicing homeopathy in the city for the past 40 years. Describing his passion for helping those less fortunate than himself as a quest for the “highest form of worship,” he has been involved in the practice now.
An army engineer with the rank of major general, Kandal, 83, took premature retirement in 1988 to join a multinational construction firm in Jordan where he was diagnosed with amoebic dysentery while working on a road project. “Doctors at the hospital treated me like a guinea pig and this is when I developed an interest in homeopathy. I did extensive research on treating my condition and later on enrolled in a homoeopathy course”,” he said, explaining how his “hobby” soon turned into a career to which he has wholeheartedly dedicated himself.
Kandal heads the Sahibzada Ajit Singh Free Poly Clinic Trust, which was founded in 2002, runs outpatient departments as well as free multispecialty medical camps in Perch village in Mohali district. Over ten doctors from the PGI, Chandigarh in addition to two homeopathic practitioners conduct comprehensive checkups at these camps. A mobile dispensary service was introduced in 2013 to enable patients from far flung villages who are unable to visit the polyclinic to get checkups and treatment. Kandal says his goal remains providing free primary healthcare to the downtrodden.
“I leave home every morning at 9 am sharp and visit the slums on the city’s periphery to treat patients four times a week. Also, every Thursday I visit Nayagaon where a free checkup camp is organized for the residents. Being patient with patients is also an art — one has to be able to strike a chord with them, only then do they confide in us and share their ailments. We now plan to set up a physiotherapy centre at the clinic and extend its services to more villages in the region. In addition, we intend to run the clinic six days a week and eventually every day”, he says.
For Kandal the word retirement does not exist. A former president of the Senior Citizens Association, the spirited octogenarian conducts several medical camps on behalf of the body every year and is also a trustee of the Humari Amanat, an NGO engaged in education of underprivileged girls. “I’ve been so much absorbed in my work that I’m not able to give enough time to my family but feel blessed I’ve a partner who never complains and has more respect for my passion to serve others than perhaps I myself do.”