Our first Bhopal Medical Appeal, appeared in The Guardian and The Observer on the 10th anniversary of the disaster, in December 1994, producing a massively generous response.
The first project, with the funds generated from this ad, was to open a clinic in Bhopal and the Sambhavna Trust was formed to run it. Working together, we were able to buy a building and the preliminary work, including purchasing a suitable building and recruiting the doctors and staff, took just over a year. The Sambhavna Trust Clinic opened its doors in 1996.
Later the Sambhavna Trust bought land to build a larger clinic from where it operates to this day. It is a purpose-built facility, designed to the highest ethically sound and sustainable principles, and includes a working garden where herbs and plants used in some of the treatments are grown and processed into high quality medicines.
Working to a principle of ‘first do no harm’ Sambhavna has pioneered new treatments, combining modern medicine with traditional ayurvedic herbal medicine and yoga, and the clinic’s work has won a string of humanitarian awards.
To date our Sambhavna Clinic has provided treatment and support to more than 70,000 people and employs more than 55 staff, just under half of whom are themselves gas survivors. Sambhavna also carries out valuable research and studies; it educates people in contaminated communities and trains them to monitor their health. The communities are also shown how to grow and manufacture their own herbal medicines.
In 2009 we began funding the Chingari Trust Rehabilitation Centre. The Chingari Trust had been open since 2005 when two disaster survivors, Rashida Bee and Champadevi Shukla, were recognized for their activism on behalf of the thousands of survivors of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster, and presented with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award. They used the money from the award to start a trust, created to help the second and third generations affected by the gas disaster, especially women and children.
The Chingari Trust Rehabilitation Centre provides medical treatment and rehabilitation to the children of gas victims, and those affected by the contaminated water, born with birth defects, disabilities or life threatening conditions. Since 2009 we have been able to support the Chingari Trust with their move to larger premises, expanding their services to help hundreds more children.