Friday, September 2, 2011


I have disassociated self from DHADAK MOHIM w.e.f: 1st September 1400 Hours!

It is indeed ironical and a very sad experience when you hold someone high for the good work they have done since years... however, a close association do reveal a lot about how things are on the grounds.

I came to know about Melghat Maitri from documentary filmmaker Ajay Saklani who made the documentary on Melghat Malnutrition UPAASMAR – The Taste of Hunger! In June, Melghat Maitri helped me greatly to conduct survey at villages in Melghat Region for three days. So when their DHADAK MOHIM (89 days medical camp during monsoon) was to start on July 16th, it was my turn to lend my support and help them. Through my friends all around the nation, I managed to collect medicines worth 25 to 30,000 rupees for the camp (and more were expected to arrive but now I have requested everyone not to send them). I joined in as a volunteer along with my friend Ms. Anil from Agra on the 20th August.

What I experienced in mere few days was a nightmare as many volunteers and I wondered how can someone who has held such camps since the last 14 years, be so unprofessional in their approach... if there is one flaw, one can say... – ‘we are humans and humans do make mistakes’. If there are two flaws... then one can presume it to be a coincidence but if there are number of flaws in the system, then it a case of total mismanagement... and that is what other volunteers and I experienced @ Dhadak Mohim...

Right from the word ‘go’ things were not as I had expected... a mere 30 minutes Orientation @ Arrival (of the volunteers) by Dr. Ajit Roy about how to detect Pneumonia, diarrhoea and treat the infants, and if required the volunteers would be taught how to administer injections...and yes... he declares you all are doctors now, who can treat patients with the medicines! Initially, I was told that every batch will have an able doctor, however, none of the batches (nine) had a qualified doctor to lead the team of volunteers, who come from various walks of life – some were engineering students, some medical, some BSW / MSW and some professionals from various sections...

It was the job of the Batch Head / Team Leader to explain the intricacies of various medicines to be given to patients and train the volunteers in mere 10 days’ time... so it depends on the respective individual to pick up things fast or just be the way one is... During the Orientation @ Arrival there is no mention that the volunteers are here only for Counselling the villagers and treat only the serious patients without medicines... but when I asked for the short supply of medicines and no dettol to clean the patients’s injuries / boils or body before applying medicines, I was told by Dr. Ajit Roy – ‘We are here not to treat the patients but only to counsel them and create awareness without medicines... we have to only treat serious patients with medicines’. How I wish they had put a placard on each volunteer’s chest saying – ‘We are here only for counselling and not treatment’. I really pity the approach!

The following points of DHADAK MOHIM’s management says it was a total mismanagement to lead the volunteers to believe that they are doing a great job without providing sufficient medicines, training and orientation sans able and qualified doctors, without proper accommodation, safe drinking water, proper toilets etc etc:

Each volunteer was charged Rs. 700/- for the ten days’ work... volunteers travelling from all over India had to spend their own and the Trust which should have provided food, water & accommodation failed to do so. While the Trust will gain everything because of the volunteers, who will remain faceless and nameless, many felt they were taken for a ride by being charged Rs. 700/- since they were giving 10 precious days of theirs to serve on behalf of the Trust so why were they charged?

No pick up from different base camp after the camp ends... girls and boys with heavy luggage were left on their own to walk for two to three kilometres from the interiors of the villages before getting transportation to arrive at the Main Base Camp @ Dharni.

Volunteers were asked to sign a declaration that in case of any casualties, it is not the Trust of the Management who will be responsible but the individual is responsible... it was the most bizarre clause because volunteers were working for the Trust and the Trust sheds its responsibilities with the signed declaration.

No proper stock of medicines provided at each base camp (Rajaram from Trust revealed in a personal conversation)... I had to literally beg for Dettol, Protein Supplements (the camp was actually meant to serve the malnourished patients but the main supplement was not available in the stock) for more than 4 days... for Protein Supplements I had to finally tell Ram Phad to send 20 packets and that I shall pay the amount... and only then it arrived late night...

The status of medicines’ stock was discussed with Dr. Priyadarsh Ture, who was shocked to hear... and the next two days, he made sure our Base Camp got what we requested him to provide but after two days, it was the same old story... no one bothered to ask what we required or what was our medicines stock’s status...

When I told Shambhaji (the Camp Leader of Paankhalya) that without all the medicines volunteers should not enter a village (to serve the patients) after repeated requests for medicines, that evening medicines arrived after four days of begging and repeated requests.

When I projected and expressed the inadequacies and inefficiency of the management, instead of accepting their inefficiencies, they blamed the volunteers for not doing the job properly.

The status of insufficient stock of medicines in all the 9 Base Camps covering 30 odd villages was confirmed by Rajaram of the Trust, who revealed that every Base Camp was facing the shortage of medicines...

Initially was told that they don’t have enough stock of medicines as they have not arrived from various donors... it was the duty of the Trust to keep enough stock of medicines before the camp starts even if the donors had not send them but such thing never happened and even the day I left, the shortage persists.

No stock taking or daily follow up by the management on a daily basis as to which Base Camp needs what medicines...

Orientation @ Arrival to volunteers very misleading by Dr. Ajit Roy, as first we were told that maximum deaths in the region is caused not because of Malnourishment but Pneumonia and medicines not reaching in time to respective patients... Death due to malnourishment was a rare and not the real cause... so is Malnorishment in Melghat Region a Demonic Myth created by the Media and Government, because while working in four villages, our batch witnessed less than 10 cases of malnourishment...

Volunteers were sent to villages without Dettol to treat the patients with boils / injuries... repeated request failed... Fortunately one of my friends from Mumbai sent me a 5 Litre can of Dettol and another sent me 5 bottles of Savlon... the management didn’t provide us any...

At respective Base Camps, no proper arrangements of Safe Drinking Water (when they have charged Rs. 700/- each), Electricity, Accommodation, and Toilets (for ladies & gents)... Volunteers were left to fend for self at the mercy of their own... Volunteers suffered from Skin diseases and one even became serious, so much that the Team doctors could not treat her and she was taken to Private Nursing Hospital and was administered saline bottles... imagine, if they cannot take care of their own volunteers, how will they treat the villagers? Volunteers were drinking water from wells full of frogs and other insects, fortunately not many fell sick... how can one create awareness and counsel the villagers when the management made the volunteers to go for nature’s call in the open in an unhygienic manner as the villagers live?

Short term vision of the Trust because after 3 months what? The villagers will be left at the mercy of God... what happens to them in the next 9 months if they get sick?

When donations were pouring in from many individual donors (many of my friends too contributed with cash who could not send medicines), why then there were so many inadequacies and shortage of medicines?

Wastage of vegetables were at the peak... as food stocks arrives only when the management is asked... it was not provided on a daily basis.... kilos of vegetables used to get waste and thrown in a region where the sole aim was to serve the malnourished infants... it shows the callousness and mismanagement at its best!

Non-Marathi Volunteers who came in from North were also given the declaration forms in Marathi instead of English or Hindi... when we asked, we were told they have not made it... mismanagement and misleading the volunteers.

Non availability of qualified doctors at each Base Camp, however, initially I was told that every centre will have one qualified doctor.

Improper Division of Number of volunteers in each Base Camp... some camps had 10 to 14 volunteers while some had just 5... it shows how the mismanagement was at its best!

All these points I will be discussing in more detail manner one by one in my blog as a series so that people are not misled to believe what they don’t know happens on the grounds. I am sad that such a thing happens in the name of serving the poor villagers to let the world believe a lot is being done... I am sad, really very sad... It is better not to serve the poor at all but to serve in the name of exploiting the situation of the poor... well, I have not slept properly even when I was serving the villagers there... 

(to be continued... )


  1. Oh, no, so very sorry! At least you have the courage to speak up and perhaps change things. Thank you.

  2. Catherine grateful for your kind support... I am very-very sad about the whole thing and most of the volunteers who were serving or had served in previous batches feel the same way but since they have come from respective colleges, they just cannot say anything...

    The love and respect the villagers gave us are being betrayed in the name of help and that saddens me more than anything else... hope the scenario changes for better from the next batch and the management will take good care with full stock of medicines...

    Cuidate :)

  3. Johnny,

    People like this need to be held accountable. It is rather unfortunate that in the name of serving others, that people abuse the position they are placed in.

    I was amongst one that sent medications out of concern, and am extremely disappointed to hear that there is such gross mismanagement. Again, just to reiterate, these people need to be held accountable, and I would strongly urge you to take some action. I am more than willing to assist you in your efforts.


  4. Sanjiv you can imagine what I must have felt after the whole experience, giving my precious time, raise donations, raise medicines from all over India and also ask my friends to be part of the camp as volunteers and to be treated by the management in the most callous manner... I am more sad than angry because the love the villagers gave us... without knowing the reality... is hard to replace or pay back.

    However, I am also glad that I came to know the reality soon and to make them accountable and the world to know, I am writing all my experience and the flaws of the management. I am extremely sorry Sanjiv but all the medicines which came in from individuals were used for the villagers to become alright... so I am grateful to you all who had send us medicines... so please don't feel otherwise. It is my duty to make the world know how the management has failed miserably and cheated everyone - the villagers, the volunteers, and the world...

    If you can, please send this information to the media, so that they are exposed about all that has happened in the name of serving the poor villagers. My heart really boils when poor are exploited in such a fashion Sanjiv... I do hope you understand my plight for being treated by the management in such a manner... every volunteer feels cheated after realizing what the whole game was...

    Grateful to you for all your kind support. Acchaka!

    Cuidate :)

  5. Dear Johnny,

    Sorry for responding late to your article. I read the article in details and I understand that there were miss management during the Dhadak Mohim programme, BUT the problems are not as big as you have stated in your article. Working in 47 villages (much more than 16 villages in last camp) wasn't that easy task. Your expectations according to this article were much more than it should have been.
    While working in this region of Melghat, if you are expecting a packaged mineral water, that won't be possible.
    You have also written about Rs. 700/- being charged from volunteers for 10 days. I won't be able to comment on this as I'm not aware of how much donations Melghat Mitra is getting.
    Whatever I came to know during my work in Melghat is that they do not receive momentary support/funding from any individual or organization, rather they ask them to visit the region and then decide how can they support the tribals without donation money.

  6. Dear Johnny, nice to connect back with you again, albeit through this bitter post :-( I am extremely sad to hear this, considering that I have been telling people a lot about 'Dhadak Mohim'. But I tell you what: I do hope that the people who sent in money and medicines do not lose their hope in helping. Of course this was terrible, but there are a lot others too who are doing great work, and I fear that this one bad incident would scar the memories of donors for the rest of their lives. All the best with all that you are doing. Proud of you.

    priyanka borpujari

  7. Ajay thank you so much for enlightening me and the world about the inefficiency and mismanagement... while I was on ground, you were not. As stated by you 47 villages, sorry that the management once again has misled everyone, including you. The camp was held only in 30 villages and not 47 as confirmed by Chandrakant Jagdale in 9 batches because they didn't get enough volunteers because they were charging Rs. 700/- from each one... the Dictionary meaning: "In general terms, volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be considered self-serving." If volunteers get sick drinking well water, who is responsible Ajay? If the volunteers get sick, tell me how will they serve the poor? No toilet facilities for the ladies and the management wanted the volunteers to generate awareness about Health & Hygiene... isn't this a hypocritical approach? Chandrakant himself told us that after an article was published in Pune newspapers, a business donated Rs. 25,000 and later another 1.25 lakhs... many of my friends too contributed money who couldn't send medicines... I am surprised that you say that the problems are not BIG after going through all the points of inefficiency and mismanagement... will you please enlighten all of us as to what according to you is THE BIG PROBLEM? I will be grateful to you, really...

  8. Priyanka acchaka and grateful for your kind support... most of the donors and volunteers do feel cheated for contributing with good intentions and serving the poor... the experience on ground has been very-very sad and I hate when people cheat the poor villagers for no fault of theirs... cuidate :)

  9. Okay Johnny, I have read what Ajay has written in here, and guess i would like to ponder on some of the points more openly.

    In a village, one cannot expect a separate 'ladies' toilet. I think every time the volunteers are told that this will be a complete village experience. Forget toilets: there are hardly any toilets in most villages.

    This should NOT be seen as serving the poor -- like, we the 'servers' are doing something great and thus look down on those in the villages. In fact, my idea of volunteerism is to stay with the villagers and live like them!

    Instead of bothering about mismanagement, perhaps you and your friends could help out with that? I mean, not everyone have managerial skills, no?

    To me, the biggest problem is that we consider ourselves as too great souls who are doing others a favour. Hell, we are doing it for ourselves, and we complain when we are attempts have some other motive. That is the way I see it.

    I cannot comment on the Rs 700 taken, for I need to know more.

    Please Johnny, continue your good work, but let us all not jump into conclusions? It is veryyyy easy to do that and to point fingers. Let's remember that volunteers go in with their own will, and so did you. If we really want to help, we should live one day completely like a man who is trying hard to feed his dying children. Let's keep Mumbai outside when we leave Mumbai. All the best.

  10. Priyanka, I am not pointing a finger here because I have held Melghat Maitri in a very high pedestal before my experience @ Dhadak Mohim... and I sincerely request Ajay Saklani and you to realize and understand this FACT in the first place!

    Along with Ajay, I had even gone to Mumbai to talk with JJ GMC students to request them to join Dhadak Mohim... I raised donations for them; I raised medicines worth 25 – 30,000 rupees in a short time; and I even raised volunteers for them and provided my service because I believed in them. I didn’t go for my personal benefits there because I have dedicated my life to serve the poor villagers in Vidarbha. So before writing – ‘Jumping to conclusion’ you should have thought about all these factors.

    Secondly, is it my fault if so many flaws of the management are seen right in the front of your eyes? Will you keep your mouth SHUT like the world and turn a BLIND EYE?

    Thirdly, it was MISMANAGEMENT at its BEST after conducting such camps since the last 14 years? They should have been flawless by 14th year, instead of so many flaws.

    Fourthly, yes, separate Ladies Toilet is out of the question in villages but tell me how will you generate awareness of ‘Health & Hygiene’ if you are living their unhygienic life style? Will the villagers listen to you? One has to practice what one preaches or expect others to follow. What if poisonous snakes had bit lady volunteers? Obviously, since they made us to sign that in case of any casualties, the individual is responsible and not the Trust. So the management were smart enough to include this clause.

    Fifth, only if Ajay and you had been on the grounds, would your eyes pop up with all the mismanagement and ground realities. Does one have to BEG for ‘Protein Supplements’ to be given to malnourished patients? They didn’t have STOCK, can you believe this? Two batches had to BEG them and it is only when I told Ram Phad that please send 20 Packets of ‘Protein Supplements’ and I shall pay the amount, it arrived late night... this essential supplement was missing and not available with them when they are serving in the region of malnutrition deaths?

    Sixth, DETTOL the most essential antiseptic to clean the boils / injuries before applying the medicines was not at all given to any camps, WHY? In spite of repeated requests, only after four days, it was provided and that too not enough to distribute in four batches of one camp? This when I came to know that one volunteer from Pune by the name SARANG revealed they have enough stock of DETTOL. So why were the Base Camps deprived of the most essential antiseptic liquid?

    There were many flaws that you and the world will read in coming days... and then may I suggest you to jump into your conclusion... the ground realities surely has opened my eyes.