Sambhavna Celebrates 24th Anniversary

Photo by Biju Nair

This Wednesday, September 2nd, staff and volunteers of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal celebrated the 24th anniversary of it’s opening. Since opening in 1996, the clinic has provided regular and ongoing treatment to more than 35,000 survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, and treated more than 100,000 unique patients in total. The first fully sustainable free healthcare clinic of its kind in the world, Sambhavna’s innovative use of traditional Indian medicinal techniques alongside modern medicine, including Ayurvedic medicine and yoga, has proved enormously successful. Founded by gas survivors for use by the community, the staff, trustees and volunteers at Sambhavna believe effective healing can only be achieved through communal care. In addition to receiving individual treatments and procedures for specific health conditions, patients are encouraged to attend communal workshops and classes. These include yoga and physical therapy workshops for those suffering from chronic physical ailments, as well as meditation for help with psychological trauma and those suffering from respiratory conditions. Sambhavna also has extensive, beautiful community gardens, in which many of the plants and herbs used in Ayurvedic treatments are grown. The gardens are open to visitors and maintained by both regular staff and volunteers from the community.

Photo by Biju Nair

To mark the 24th anniversary, staff and volunteers at the clinic organised a poster exhibition entitled ‘Covid-19 and the role of the Sambhavna Trust’. The exhibition documents the campaign by staff from Sambhavna, working alongside volunteers from the local communities, to protect gas survivors from Covid-19. The campaign began back in March, when staff and more than 50 community volunteers began installing hand-washing stations for use by the public, putting up instructional posters, and distributing flyers in 15 local communities around the abandoned Union Carbide factory. They also created a WhatsApp group where local residents could receive information and report symptoms, and began carrying out door-to-door visits to create a census of vulnerable individuals. Within two weeks the WhatsApp group had more than 50,000 members, and the effort began to spread to other local communities. Last month the campaign officially incorporated another 20 local communities, and as of today there are more than 180 local community volunteers risking their health on a daily basis to safeguard their fellow Bhopalis.

This exhibition gives the same message to the public that through public participation and engagement, even difficult situations like corona epidemic can be fought

– Community Health Activist Bushra Khan

 

Community health volunteer Monica Vishwarkarma described how she had been inspired to sign up and join the battle against Covid-19 after Sambhavna had launched the “My Community My Responsibility” Campaign in her neighbourhood. Community health activist Bushra Khan said that the exhibition had been organised to honour the efforts of the community volunteers. “This exhibition gives the same message to the public that through public participation and engagement, even difficult situations like corona epidemic can be fought”, she said. 

Photo by Biju Nair

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.