The towering Himalayas dissolving because of mindless landslides; an illiterate farmer watches helplessly, but resolves to do something. To each passing pilgrim he gives a sapling, requesting them to plant it when they reach their destination or on the way. His only instruction: bless the baby plant, and let nature’s magic unfold.
This was the theme of a movie that heavily impacted a young Dr. Priya.
“If I can’t stop hatred, I will spread love. Maria is one of the little saplings I have decided to nurture. Someday somewhere she would grow to be a tree of love.”.
“Maria’s father abandoned her mother, who then committed suicide. Maria and her 2 sisters were looked after by their elderly grandmother who lived in a muhalla near the school. She needed a sponsor to support her education and, thankfully, I was able to do so.”
“I did not want to disclose my name to the child. For me knowing I have a child across the border somewhere, who I am there for, is enough. As much as I would love to do more for her, I cannot. Since the sponsors for her sister are not able to do much, it would only spread jealousy among her siblings. So, for her birthday I have sent little gifts for all 3 of them, requesting Aunty to distribute sweets in her class. One of Maria’s reports said she was lagging behind in English, so I sent her some story books.”
“But tragedy seems to follow the 3 sisters and recently her grandmother passed away. My heart reached out to her, and I wanted to get her to Singapore, but one cannot uproot a plant from its natural habitat.”
“I am a mother; I have a daughter studying overseas, and now Maria too, in Pakistan. My heart is concerned and prays for the well-being of both. My son and daughter are both aware and feel for Maria’s plight.”
What made you decide to support Maria, a child in Pakistan, as opposed to a child in India, where you come from?
“The tsunamis of hate, terror and anger have been destroying both countries for many years. The problems faced by the common man is the same on either side of the border. The same poverty, the same hunger…”
Like thousands of fellow Indians around the world, Dr. Priya watched in horror as the TajMahal Hotel in her birth city of Mumbai went ablaze in 2008.
“They say Karachi and Mumbai have many similarities. The culture, the flavor of the people in both cities is quite similar. I presume a lot of people from Mumbai settled in Karachi after India Pakistan partition…”
The same pain, the same helplessness as when she had watched 9/11 inferno.
“That day I resolved to plant a seed of love ….
… in the heart of the very city from which that terrorist had come.”
“I am blessed and lucky to know Aunty Zehra. She is my patient. But our relation goes beyond that. We share a deep bond. Aunty Zehra is one of the founders of a school for underprivileged in Karachi. So I requested her to let me support a child’s education from K.G to whichever level she wanted to study. All I asked for was her photograph and progress card each year.”
What are her plans for Maria when she completes her studies?
“When she is no longer a minor and old enough to make decisions for herself, I would like her to know about me, and I would love to be actively involved in her life, if she is willing.”
Practice What You Preach
Dr. Priya grew up in a household which believed in natural healing and homeopathy. As a holder of Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS), she has also studied various other alternative therapies and has been practicing Holistic Homeopathy for 24 years.
She has an in-depth knowledge of homeopathy and clinical medicine, and calls herself the Little Rainbow Bridge between mainstream and alternative medicine. Her passion for empowering through sharing knowledge has made her a charismatic speaker at many seminars.
She has a deep passion for helping the underprivileged. When in India she worked extensively within tribes and slums; when she moved to Singapore 14 years ago, she was perplexed about her purpose in this seemingly privileged society. It was around this time that her mother developed cancer, and her purpose revealed itself.
Since then, Dr. Priya realized that the pain of cancer or the anxiety of having a special needs child, are the same for the privileged and underprivileged.
Equipped with her knowledge and her passion to heal she started a free cancer clinic providing health coaching, in Kampong Senang, a local charity.
We asked Dr Priya what happened to her waist-length luscious locks we had seen in a picture.
“A patient of mine had come to me on his tenth birthday, joyfully showing me his new Rubik cube set. For his leg pain, I referred him to an orthopedic surgeon, and it turned out he had Stage 4 Cancer (Osteosarcoma). When he went through his chemotherapy, he lost his hair.”
“Since I managed his nutrition with healthy juices and the oncologist his chemotherapy, he was upset with us. I empathized with him; how could I face him with my head full of hair? So I decided to donate my hair for Locks of Love, an organization in the US which makes wigs for kids who lose hair to cancer, at the same time initiating a fund raiser for Kampung Senang under Cut for Compassion, now an annual event. My husband who has always stood by me, supported me even in this by donating his hair.”
As we heard how the movie of the Himalayas and Hotel Taj burning impacted Dr. Priya, my mind went to the many times I have felt similarly. The times we have seen or heard something that has stirred in us a deep desire to do something meaningful to help difficult situations in the world. Many of us think too much, and end up not doing quite as much. In Dr. Priya, FUCHSIA sees a person who does not dwell too long on the what-ifs and the but-hows. She sees something, feels a drive and does something. We hope the next time you feel an urge to do something meaningful but wonder if you are too insignificant a unit in the world to have an impact, you think of Dr. Priya and her story.
“I was on the cover for a local magazine which had interviewed me. A lady who read my article queried, “Who are you – a Malay, Thai, Indian? I replied, “I am a human being.”
When I did post-mortems in medical college, I realized that God has packaged us all so beautifully with our skin, but once our skin is removed, we are all the same inside. Same muscles, same bones, same blood …” Dr. Priya Kamet.
*Maria’s original name has been masked for confidentiality purposes.
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.