[ Baba Amte & Sadhnatai Amte: ]
For a man who once speeded in fancy cars, wrote film reviews for The Picture Goer, corresponded with Hollywood icons like Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer, Baba Amte has come a long, long way since that rainy night in Warora. The sight of Tulshiram, a man dying of leprosy, changed his life forever.
Baba's legacy has lived on through the tireless work of his two amazing sons and their wives, who in their own ways have contributed significantly to furthering Baba's vision. Dr. Vikas Amte runs Maharogi Sewa Samiti and coordinates operations between Anandwan and satellite projects; his wife Dr. Bharati Amte runs a hospital at Anandwan and his brother Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Manda Amte run the school and hospital at Hemalkasa.
Due to his health, Baba has returned from the Narmada valley to his home in Anandwan but he continues to serve as a source of inspiration to others in the anti-big dam movement, not only in the Narmada valley, but also around the world.
Many books have been written about Baba, films made about his activism, and accolades and awards bestowed on him. His steadfast support for the disadvantaged people and his commitment to social justice has defined his work for more than five decades. Now 89 years old, Baba's public events are limited by physical constraints. But his mind, always abreast of current events, is always thinking of new ideas for creating change in the world.
Always by his side, Sadhnatai Amte (shown in photo to the right), recently published her autobiography. She says, 'You must follow the dictate of your heart. I shall find my happiness in following you.' Decades later she would tell a large public gathering, called to felicitate her, that had there been a women's liberation movement in her time Anandwan might never have happened!
Read a detailed biography of Baba Amte's life and work.
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[ Vikas Amte: ]
When Baba started working with people affected by leprosy, Vikas was only a little boy. As his parents moved from village to village, caring for the patients, he would keep the home fires burning (shown in photo to the right). Vikas and his wife Dr. Bharati have managed Anandwan for the past 20 years, Dr. Vikas actually manages the operations for the entire Maharogi Sewa Samiti. As the activities have expanded at an explosive rate, Vikas has increasingly brought to bear a professional, modern touch to the functioning of the organization. His innate creativity has found expression in numerous innovations with technological options, always guided by the principles of environmental conservation and the dignity of labor. He is administrator, doctor, architect, engineer, public relations officer, all rolled into one.
Vikas collects stones that most others wouldn't even spit at. He has the most amazing collection of Stone Age cutting tools, fossils, and other bric-a-brac. He is an archeologist of sorts, you could say.
With no training, just a photocopied book as a guide, he picks up whatever strikes his fancy. With all the financial and administrative burdens on Vikas' shoulders, he doesn't have time for this hobby many visitors have told Vikas he has a really talent and should document his finds and share them with other archeologists he laughs and says, jokingly, "one day, when I retire!"
A doctor by training, Vikas spends most of his time playing host to the planned and unplanned visitors, managing day-to-day administrative tasks or putting out fires (figuratively speaking).
As the administrator of Anandwan and representative of Baba's at formal events, he has a lot on his hands. Vikas is more of an architect than he is doctor. He has developed sewage systems, biogas plans, and with Chadaramani, a long-time resident at Anandwan, he built low-cost communes by using one part cement with 9 parts of the local soil. These innovative and original structures give Anandwan a certain uniqueness. Made primarily of local mud and sand found within a 5 km radius, these structures require no metal or wooden supports and therefore reduce cost substantially. Furthermore, these structures, Vikas claims, are extremely earthquake-resistant and would be ideal for reconstruction in quake-prone areas -- for example, Gujarat, where low-cost housing will be built in the months to come. Vikas has willingly shared Anandwan's technology with others despite the drain on time and resources. Vikas is obsessed by toilets and it's very refreshing. If only the rest of India could be as clean as Anandwan. A few miles away in a nearby village, the squalor is quite depressing.
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[ Dr. Bharati Amte ]
Bharati is trained as a pediatrician and leprosy specialist. She organizes community health programs in the nearby villages, looks after leprosy patients and children at Anandwan and also conducts yoga classes.
Bharati has become a trainer and teacher of Reiki and other alternative heath care systems. Her expertise in conventional and alternate medicine has brought a really well balanced system of health care to Anandwan's patients. To watch her treat a patient is to know how much she cares for them and their well-being. Always inquiring about their health and their family life, she sees the connections between the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of a person's healing process
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[ Dr. Prakash Amte & Dr Mandakini Amte: ]
Deep in the heartland of India in an isolated tribal village called Hemalkasa, Dr. Prakash and Dr. Mandakini Amte (shown in photo to the right), a husband and wife team, has quietly been performing miracles on a daily basis, for almost three decades. The Amtes are social and environmental pioneers. Dr. Manda Amte helps tribal women deal with their inhibitions and superstitions related to health care. Dr. Prakash Amte is famous for his medical work with serious injuries and illnesses, like bear bites and burns, and for caring for wild animals rescued by the Amte Animal Ark.
"I have rarely come across people like the ones managing this project. Absolutely down-to-earth, a smile on everyone's face, Prakash Amte and his colleagues are among the most famous Indians living today." Bhanu Rajagopalan, boloji.com
Quiet and unassuming, you would never guess that this couple provide medical care to 40,000 tribal people [adivasis] every year and education to hundreds of kids. They've been doing this for 27 years. What they have accomplished in that time is mind-boggling. For example, the tribals won't live inside buildings, they only sleep in the outdoors so at Hemalkasa, the main ward is out in the courtyard. They build a hospital for the patients but even the most critical ones want to sleep outside. This is a cultural belief that Prakash and Manda have learned to work with. Some of the tribals travel on foot to come to the Amte's project for healthcare carrying patients in makeshift stretchers for days [see the photo on http://ccrc.wustl.edu/~asha/projects/anandwan/lbp_pictures.htm]. They are a very proud people but they don't have any money so they will sometimes pay the Amtes by bringing them a tiger cub, or a bear or some wild animal from the forest.
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