With an aim to promote communal harmony and serve society, Sarfaraz Saifi of Garima Garden has been organising a medical camp for Kanwarias in the city for the past eight years. In the team of more than 30 volunteers working at the camp, 24 members are from the Muslim community.
This year, the camp was set up on July 27 and will go on till August 1. According to Saifi, close to 150 Kanwarias visit the camp every day. The numbers rise to 400 on the last two days of the Yatra. The camp starts from 7 am and goes on till midnight.
Saifi, a Ghaziabad-based property dealer, thought of starting the camp after he saw that the number of camps organised for Kanwarias every year only included food and resting facilities, but no medical assistance.
“In Ghaziabad region, I did not see any medical camp being set up for Kanwarias before 2008. Hence, I decided to set one up. I have never differentiated among people from different faiths and I believe that helping devotees is a service to humanity,” said Saifi.
Saifi set up his first medical camp in 2008 near Shalimar Garden on Wazirabad road with a team of about 10 volunteers and first aid kits. Today, the camp has 30 volunteers including four permanent general physicians who look after Kanwarias who come to the camp for medical assistance.
“Kanwarias walking barefoot for several kilometres carrying kanwars (cans of Ganga water) on their shoulders may suffer from severe pain, swelling and boils on their feet and shoulders. Most cases that come to us are of those suffering from boils on their feet. In the last two days of the kanwar yatra, when the Kanwarias are returning home, we get a large number of cases of injuries,” said Dr Md. Alam, a general physician who works at the camp free of charge.
Deepanshu, a Dak Kanwar, is one of the patients at the camp. He was on his scooty carrying a kanwar when he got injured in a minor accident near Muradnagar.
“I hurt my knees and hands as I fell from my scooty a day ago while coming from Haridwar. The accident took place near Muradnagar, but I did not find any medical camp in the way. On reaching here I saw this medical camp and decided to get my wounds treated here,” said the 22-year-old from Pappu Colony in Shalimar Garden.
Saifi said that the expenses of holding the camp are incurred by him and his team members.
“The expenses depend on the number of patients that come to us. It generally ranges between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000,” he said.