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SAI Health Fair: A Milestone In Gandhi Foundation Mission

May 2004
SAI Health Fair: A Milestone In Gandhi Foundation Mission

SAI Health Fair: A Milestone In Gandhi Foundation Mission

On the beautiful spring morning of April 3, no sooner the doors of the spacious David T. Howard facility in the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Preservation District, were thrown open, a long queue of people of diverse nationalities and cultures from all over Atlanta began registering for various health-care services including consultations with physicians from many specialties, free EKGs, bone density tests and diabetic education. At the end of the momentous day, one more highly successful and historic humanitarian project became a milestone in projecting Gandhi Foundation's mission of social service.

The well-known Macon-Atlanta physician Dr. Sujatha Reddy, who in the past has organized four successful health fairs in Metropolitan Atlanta, conceived the idea of SAI Health Fair. The Gandhi Foundation family thought of holding it on April 3, the day before the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. M.L.K Jr. to cherish his invaluable life and legacy. By this laudable example of outreaching, by providing free medical services and consultations to mostly the members of the beloved community in the neighborhoods around the M.L.K. Jr. Preservation District, the Gandhi Foundation strove to further strengthen its bond with King. For over four months, the members of the Gandhi Task Force and concerned African-American community members like Fred (V-man) Watson, Rev. Gwenn Butler, Charles Johnson and others, attended Town Hall and home owner association meetings, visited churches and schools, distributed flyers in neighborhoods and shops around the National Historic Site, publicized the event to Indian-American Associations, and other communities through various print, TV, radio and Internet media. Inspired by compassion and commitment, many physicians, health care professionals, volunteers, community and faith-based organizations devoted their time, expertise and energies to make the SAI Health Fair worthy of emulation.

The entrance was festooned with national flags of USA and India, the banner of the Gandhi Foundation and portraits of King and Mahatma Gandhi. The hallway and well-lighted hall had tables manned by over 45 doctors and 15 nurses who attended to the various health care needs of the people as they walked in. Many availed themselves of the blood work, which was offered at a very nominal fee of $15. It is noteworthy that the results of the blood work were mailed within 48 hours. The test results helped identify several life threatening situations, which were immediately notified to the patients concerned.

Among the many organizations that set up their booths and made generous donations included the Caduceus Occupational Medicine Group whose Dr. Stephen A Dawkins served as a coordinator, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association; the American Liver Foundation; the American Lung Association; Fulton County Department of Public Health (which gave out important information about prevention and treatment of AIDS), the National Kidney Foundation of Georgia, the Sickle Cell Foundation; Southern Heart Specialists of Riverdale, Cardiovascular Group of Lawrenceville and Commerce Cardiology Group. Medical Center of Middle Macon, Georgia Labs. provided the lab work. In the lobby, Rev. Gwenn Butler and Asha Patel showed continuous video on the spiritual discourse by Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaj Ji.

Mayor Shirley Franklin graced the Health Fair with her attendance. Dressed in an immaculate cream dress with a red rose in its lapel, the smiling Mayor was greeted upon arrival by the members of the Gandhi Task Force, GiriRaj Rao, Dr. Sujatha Reddy, Subash Razdan, Greg Pridgeon, H.V. Shivadas, Dr. K.Thrivikraman, Jacob Ampat, Kumkum Kashiparekh, Antony Thaliath, Dr. Joy Berry, Mahadev Desai and Ravi Ponangi. She was then courteously escorted around the facilities. She met and talked with the physicians, nurses and volunteers and participated in the health fair by taking a BP test! In the interview for TV Asia, she complimented Dr. Sujatha Reddy, who had spearheaded the project, expressed her admiration and support for Gandhi Foundation's effort in promoting social welfare through health fairs, and suggested the need for such health fairs in outlying areas where the needy lack adequate health care access. She commended Gandhi Foundation for the Gandhi Statue, which serves as an eloquent testament to the lasting bond between Gandhi and King.

Apart from Mayor Franklin, messages of appreciation, good wishes and support were received from Governor Sonny Perdue and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the founder of the King Center, who wrote inter alias, "Martin and Mahatma were "healers" of the social illnesses of racism and colonialism. But they were also deeply concerned about the health and well being of people. Thus holding the SAI Health Fair in this community builds a new bridge of hope and healing that joins us in common cause as we carry forward their unfinished work into the 21st century".

Those who attended expressed their appreciation and gratitude at the courteous, efficient and reassuring service and requested more such health fairs. They also said that they would exhort their neighbors and friends to attend too.

The chief coordinator of SAI Health Fair, Dr. Sujatha Reddy, and the executive director of the Gandhi Foundation of USA, GiriRaj Rao were honored and presented with the "US" Presidential Pins by Dr Vijaya Appareddy, the past chairman of the board of directors of the AAPI (American Associations of the Physicians of Indian origin) who herself is a presidential appointee. Dr. Appareddy said, " I am very happy to see this outreach of medical services to the community, as the AAPI has always worked towards making these type of events possible as a way of putting something back into the community."

Arden's Garden served fresh juices to the participants. Eli Lily/Udipi Restauarant served continental breakfast for the participants, whereas Pfizer/ Udipi Restaurant provided sumptuous lunch. The Palace restaurant served complimentary dinner to out of town nurses and members of the Gandhi Task Force. Patni Brothers' Ramada Inn provided accommodation for the out-of-town nurses. Krishna Murthy rendered excellent photographic services.

Certificates of Appreciation, with a booklet " The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr." and the brochures "For Whom the Bell Tolls" describing the influence of Gandhi on the life and legacy of Dr. King, by H. V. Shivadas, were presented to all the participating physicians, nurses and volunteers.

Mahatma Gandhi's heart must have swelled with pride and joy at what the SAI Health Fair had accomplished!

-Mahadev Desai

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