The people of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, spend most of their time helping out survivors. They do a lot for them, and so we asked them to share their thoughts. Satinath Sarangi started the Sambhavna Trust Clinic, and Rachna Dhingra works there too.
Q: How long have you been working here [at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic]?
A: I have been here since Dec 5, 1984, as in a couple days after the tragedy.
Q: What is your job and what do you do?
A: I do two things. One is that I am the managing trustee of the Sambhavna Trust. So I look after the day to day and the long term running of the clinic. The other thing I do is I am a member of the Bhopal group for Information and Action.
Q: Why did you decide to create this organization?
A: I started this organization because I saw how bad the treatment was for the survivors. I thought that if nothing was done, nothing would be changed. The government officials and other people said that nothing was possible because in ten years, nothing had changed. Also because I think that what I do makes a difference in the world.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the most important thing you are working on?
A: I work on many things at one time. Many of those things are important.
Q: Can you tell us about something you are going to work on in the future?
A: We are going on a fast to earn the pact of clean water for the Bhopali’s. I would also like to work with children and help them unlearn many of the biased bad things they learn at school like girl stereotypes such as housework is only women’s work.
Q: Have you ever encountered any failures in your campaigns? Please tell us about a few.
A: We have failed many times. We have failed to move the state government to provide safe water, proper healthcare, and then employment and pension for Bhopal survivors and people poisoned.
Q: What is the procedure that people use to get help from your clinic?
A: What happens is the community health works distribute thousands of pamphlets that tell all about Sambhavna Trust. People already know what papers they have to bring. We ask them to show their family ration card from 1984. Or they have to bring their TISS survey sheet, because they are their most reliable sheets. Most people have also lost them from natural disasters and demotion. But if the person doesn't have papers we ask to give us their name and address and soon after, later we send someone to ask their neighbors for proof.
Q: How did you get the supporters that you have today? Who are your major supporters?
A: We get most of our supporters from the internet. We have seventeen countries that are loyal.
Q: What are the jobs that people do here?
A: Some people clean not during clinic hours, guard the clinic, distribute medicines, tend to gardens, make ayurvedic medicine, do registry, tend to the sick (doctors), perform massage therapy, teach yoga, panchakarma, take accounts and administer drugs, other work in the pathology lab, volunteer, or they cook.
Do volunteers have to be educated in a related major such as Biology? Or can volunteers be people who just come out of their goodwill, yet are uneducated?
A: The volunteers do not have to be educated and most of the people come here just to help people. One thing that is required is that they have to be a just little bit educated about their field or what they are working on, but whether or not someone is, being educated truly helps.
Q: Have you ever been to jail for your work?
A: Yes, I have been in jail for charges with no foundation and government and company charges.
Q: Are there any clinics out there similar to yours for Bhopal? If so, do you have any contact with them?
A: We do not have any similar clinics like ours but we have contact with other clinics. Our clinic is probably more beneficial than most because we give personal care for each person who comes to our clinic.
Q: How long have you been working here?
A: I have been working in Bhopal from January 2003 until now, but I have been working on the campaign for justice since 2001.
Q: What is your job, and what do you do here at the clinic?
A: I love the work that I do. I work with the different survivor groups so that people affected can lead a life of dignity and get justice. I organize protests, especially for the provision of clean water, proper and effective medical care, for justice, and for holding and filing suits for the companies and individuals responsible for the disaster. I also work with the community and do things like community outreach and income generation project; like for people who cannot do their livelihood because of exposure to the gas. An example would be if a woman was a seamstress but the gas tragedy made her blind, she wouldn’t be able to do her work so I would help her earn money. Basically people who are in need. I also work with other pollution impacted communities inside and outside of India trying to spread the message of how essential it is that there are no more Bhopals!
Q: Why do you love your job so much?
A: I enjoy the work that I do, and I do because I feel that it is a step towards saving this planet from self-destruction.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the most important thing that you are working on?
A: In 2007, Bhopal survivors and supporters will launch an indefinite hunger strike for clean water, economic and social rehabilitation, proper medical care for those affected by ground water contamination caused by the tragedy and for the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors.
Q: Can you tell us about something you’re going to work on in the future?
A: Studying more environmental friendly generation projects and research on children who are drinking contaminated water and prevalence of cancer . Also I hope to start community clinics where community members will run it themselves.
Q: What do you think people could do to help?
A: Raise awareness in schools, colleges, households, and Indian communities. Also donate if possible, your time, money, and skills to the Bhopal Sambhavna Trust Clinic.
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
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