Mobile Medicine Bank
OMKAR NATH SHARMA
born in India (around 1940) also known as the “Medicine Baba” (Medicine Monk). is a retired blood bank technician from a hospital in New Delhi, who voluntarily collects unused medicines from people and distributes them to the poor free of charge
Omkar started collecting medicine after realising the acute lack of accessibility of medicines, when he witnessed Delhi Metro under-construction bridge collapsed in East Delhi in 2008, claiming the lives of two labourers and injuring many others. The local hospital administered basic first aid, but nothing else and the injured returned home to die, unable to afford the cost of treatment. That incident shook Omkar and he became determined to not let something like this happen again.
Curious onlookers turn to look at the saffron-shirt clad old man as he walks down a lane in Manglapuri, a typical middle-class Delhi neighbourhood marked by cheek-by-jowl two and three-storied houses with parked cars eating up most of the road. There’s a printed message on his kurta front: “09250243298: Mobile Medicine Bank, Thanks for your kind coordination Omkar Nath; Help for Medicine Bank; Raahat Hi Raahat”, and he calls out shrilly, much like the itinerant hawkers who peddle vegetables, “Ghar mein padi bekaar dawaiyaan de de, garibon ke kaam aaiye (Give old medicines lying at home, help the poor people)”.
The “Medicine Baba,” Omkar Nath Sharma, 75, spends his days knocking on doors in Delhi’s upper and middle class neighborhoods, collecting their leftover medicines and giving them to the poor.
Mr. Sharma, a former medical technician, was jolted out of retirement in 2008, after an under-construction Delhi Metro bridge collapsed in Laxmi Nagar, claiming two lives and injuring several construction workers and passers by. Many of those people had no access to health care or medicine. “I was moved by the plight of the people who were running here and there searching desperately for medicine,” said Mr. Sharma in a recent interview.THE NEWYORK TIMES
At an age when it is perfectly acceptable to hang up your boots, seven years ago, Omkarnath merely bought a new pair and started walking the streets of Delhi bringing healthcare to the people for it was least accessible. ‘Hawking’ for unused medicine and earning himself the name of ‘Medicine Baba’, he limps around Delhi with astounding determination and is the shining example of what a person can achieve if he just decides to.
Divyanshu Dutta Roy