Having dedicated most of his life to social service, he is a content man. Though in bad health he dreams of a better Kashmir. Ikhlaq Qadri reports
Wearing a mask and lying on a couch Bakhshi Abdul Qayoom is a content man. He is calm and serene, though he is in bad health.
From establishing the volunteer blood donation group in mid-1960’s to becoming the founder member of Cancer Society of Kashmir in late 1990’s, Qayoom has always lent a helping hand to the needy.
Born in 1938 in Srinagar, Qayoom had his early education from Tyndale Biscoe School where from he passed his 10th class examination and later did his FA from SP College.
With a desire to help mankind Qayoom joined International Lion’s club in 1965. A year later he had a health problem and was taken to the US where he was operated upon twice.
After returning, Qayoom started to spread awareness about blood donations among masses. At that time people had lousy notions about blood donation. He organised blood camps and persuaded around 40 people to donate blood at regular intervals in collaboration with SMHS hospital Srinagar.
“Those days there was blood shortage in valley hospitals. Blood was donated by drug addicts in exchange of money,” says Bakhshi.
The volunteers Bakshi persuaded used to donate blood in public gaze which helped in removing myths about blood donation among masses.
“The reason behind this was to assure people that blood donation did not impede carrying out the routine work,” he says.
This helped him to get in touch with many doctors with whom later in 1999 he started an awareness campaign about cancer. The campaign started with say no to smoking and say no to hot tea.
The volunteers visited different villages and towns where they investigated patients with the help of endoscopy, colonoscopy and ultrasonography (USG).
“In villages we found womenfolk suffering mainly from breast cancer and the old men suffering from food pipe and colon cancer,” reveals Qayoom.
The volunteer group, which had now transformed into an organisation made sustained awareness campaigns and gave medical aid to the needy. The CSK, mostly takes care of young patients with the first stage of the disease.
“The requisite medicines are provided through SKIMS and then the society pays it at the same cost the institute gets from the market,” says Qayoom.
There are 199 patients registered with the society, who are getting medicines for free. This society incurs a cost of around Rs 40 lakh per year.
The society’s plan of having its own hospital ran into many bureaucratic hurdles. “At many places land was marked but then the authorities backtracked. At Zakura we did the fencing of the land which incurred us around 10 lakh but that too was snatched from us,” says Qayoom.
The CSK purchased a house and land in Channapora and now are operating from there. It is 20-bedded day care hospital and diagnostic centre.
The society raises money from public donations to meet the expenses.
“We never went to some place to ask for donations but people come and donate. The trust is so much that they even don’t take the receipt, “says Qayoom with satisfaction.
Qayoom – the founder and lifetime member of society, first vice chairman and treasurer of society few months back was diagnosed with the malignancy in the gallbladder. The disease being at a very late stage has left little scope for recovery.
Recipient of Ahad Zargar Memorial Award for social Services Qayoom has dream of having better Kashmir.
“I am satisfied with my life. My only dream is to see a better Kashmir.”