I had the privilege of writing in this magazine from October 2010 to October 2014 under the heading ‘President’s Message’ – the count : 49 continuous issues! When I brought this fact to the attention of the Editor, she said “Write the 50th piece”. I was reluctant because I imagined a little bird telling me “People say your family is dominating the magazine” but I decided to confront the little bird who clarified “Considering the large number of authors and varied articles in ‘Mangalore’, your imagination is unfounded”….So, here I go!
The CASK Centenary year (2013-2014) was a spectacular success culminating in the Valedictory function on 21st September 2014, with the Hon’ble Vice-President of India-Sri Hamid Ansari as the Chief Guest and the Governor of Karnataka-Sri Vajubhai Vala as the Special Guest. This was followed by a change of Guard at CASK with Captain John Prasad Menezes assuming the mantle of President, Nayana Fernandes and Richard Rodrigues as Vice-Presidents, Mario Saldanha as Secretary, Dr Anand Pereira as Joint Secretary and Walter D’Sa as Treasurer. Many people have asked me why I chose to step down as President after taking CASK to much greater heights. The answer is simple – Do your very best, Give your very best for one or two terms as the Leader and then hand-over the reins to someone else who is as efficient and committed. I wanted this healthy tradition as a norm in CASK. I know that under Capt John Prasad and his able team, the Association is in good hands and will continue with the good work that we started as part of the Centenary celebrations. I have accepted to be the Convener for Implementing the Centenary Projects and wish to give you an update on those projects :
- Health Camps – In collaboration with Fr Muller Medical College
(a) Two Eye Camps organized (i) at Holy Cross Hospital, Chikmagalur on 24th August, 2014; 256 people (512 eyes) were examined, 29 referred for cataract or other surgeries at Fr Muller Hospital and 138 provided with free spectacles and (ii) at Fr L.M.Pinto Health Centre at Badyar on 16th November, 2014 – 231 persons(462 eyes) were examined; 26 patients were referred for surgery to Fr Mullers and 108 provided with free spectacles;
(b) A Paediatric Camp at Fr L. M. Pinto Hospital on 18th January 2015; 134 children examined and 10 referred for further investigations/treatment at Fr Mullers. CASK defrayed the cost of ‘Publicity’ and provided drugs free of charges at all the three camps and the investigations, surgeries and spectacles were provided by the Fr Muller Hospital from the donations by Vinaya and Sameer Kapoor of USA, courtesy lobbying by CASK. Such camps will continue on a regular basis. I request our members, well-wishers and readers of ‘Mangalore’ magazine to support us in these efforts.
- Promotion of Blood, Blood Products, Organ and Whole Body Donations – In collaboration with Fr Muller Medical College.
(a) CASK has donated a -80 degree Deep Freezer to the Fr Muller Hospital Blood Bank to enable Plasma(a Blood Product) to be stored for 3-5 years. The cost of the Freezer – Rs.6.25 lakhs was defrayed on behalf of CASK by Mr Vivek Aranha and Family of the Rosary Education Group- Pune, in memory of their parents.
(b) CASK supported the increase in the mortuary capacity of the Fr Muller Hospital morgue from the present 8 to 16 cubicles. This is aimed at promoting kidney transplants and storage of organs. The cost of this project is being defrayed by the donation of a well-wisher from USA. The donations of Vinaya/Sameer Kapoor and the well-wisher was routed through Fr Muller Charitable Foundation-USA.
(c) We are also working on establishing a Skin Bank at Fr Muller Hospital to benefit Burns cases and upgrading of the Burns ward.
- Personality Development Programme in Schools/Colleges – This has been an ongoing programme for the last three years. In 2014-15, we conducted the programme in 7 institutions – 5 schools/2 colleges. The programme received a boost with the donation of Rs. 2 Lakhs from Mr Anthony D’Silva Prabhu of USA. A total of 366 students benefitted from the programme this year. Another 750 students benefited in the previous 2 years.
- Focus on Rural Schools – The Eye and Paediatric camps at the Fr L.M.Pinto Health Centre in Badyar opened our eyes to the fact that our district considered ‘progressive’ and ‘developed’ by all-India standards, has some backward areas. Some of us who attended the Eye Camps took the opportunity to visit the local parish schools. The St Rahael Higher Primary School has 233 children enrolled from class-1 to 7. The School does not have Purified Drinking water facility and at least 50 of the 233 children come to the school barefoot. I think most CASK households would have an average of at least 20 pairs of footwear! CASK Joint Secretary Member Dr Anand Pereira was moved to donate Rs.25,000/- to enable the children to have purified drinking water and we have decided to provide footwear to the 50+ children who are obliged to come barefoot to the school. We intend doing the same in the neighboring Government school too.
- The Problem of Snake Bites – We were shocked to know that Fr L.M.Pinto Centre gets about Forty(40) Snake-bite cases annually. In a single month-November 2014, 9 snake-bite cases were reported. Each vial of the polyvalent anti-venom costs about Rs.1,400/- and each case requires an average of 8-10 vials. Most of these patients are very poor and cannot afford the full cost of the anti-venom. CASK has decided to contribute towards purchase of anti-venom vials to partly defray the costs. Once again, I request our members and well-wishers to contribute towards this cause.
- Does Fr. Mullers need support? Is a question many people have asked me. In the first place, we need to separate the ‘Service’ activities of Fr Mullers from its ‘Educational’ activities including the Medical College. Many have pointed out that the ‘Fees’ from the Management quota in the institutions specially the medical seats should be sufficient to cover the Service and charitable activities. This is a wrong presumption because a Private Medical College takes 30-40 years to fully establish itself and the Medical infra-structure, human resources and facilities need to be constantly upgraded and enhanced, at exponentially escalating costs. Therefore, we need to support our own institution and help it to serve our people and provide the best health care in this part of India!
CASK is grateful to those who so generously made contributions to the Centenary Fund either directly or through Advertisements or Tributes to their departed family members, in the CASK Centenary Souvenir. I wish to provide a general break-up of the disbursements we have made :
- 24.30 lakhs towards the purchase of a 550 sq ft Office premises at Pio Mall, Bejai-Mangalore, including Registration, Furniture and Fixtures;
- Rs 7.5 lakhs towards Scholarships to about 200 students during 2013-14 and 2014-15.
- 6.25 lakhs towards a -80 degree deep freezer to the Blood Bank of Fr Mullers to enable ‘plasma’, a blood product to be stored for 3-5 years;
- 6.33 lakhs towards printing and publication of Two Books in honor of the Centenary (i) CASK & Fellow Centurions (400 pages) and (ii) CASK Centenary Souvenir (230 pages);
- 3.5 lakhs towards a ‘Home-for-Homeless’ at Maria-Ashram parish, Talapady(through the Bishop of Mangalore);
- 2 lakhs towards other donations to various institutions or needy individuals;
- 3 lakhs towards Lunch provided to inmates of some 7 institutions – on the Inaugural Day of the Centenary celebrations on 22nd September 2013 and on the Valedictory function day on 21st September 2014.
- 82,000/- towards Special Postal Cover and My Stamp in honour of the CASK Centenary.
- 7, 71,000/- towards the Inauguration and Valedictory functions, inclusive of the hall rent/arrangements, accompanying media/print publicity, VIP security, Cultural programmes and related expenses. Those who attended the two functions have been unanimous in declaring that both functions were unique/extra-ordinary and matched the dignity of the rare milestone in the history of CASK.
- 28,57,153/- are savings kept in Fixed Deposits as a reserve fund to cater to the ongoing Centenary projects and activities. In addition, we have an asset-Pio Mall Office worth atleast Rs. 30 lakhs at current market value.
Therefore, the Centenary Fund is still open and active! Coming to philanthropy, we in India are considered the world’s top donors for “Spiritual Upliftment” projects – temples, churches, chapels and among Catholics – bellfrees, grottos, statues, altars, parish halls etc. that’s fine. We are also fairly generous for activities which I call “Pure Charity” like feeding the poor, the homeless, inmates of ashrams/ rehabilitation homes etc. However, I believe we are not strong when it comes to “Impactful Philanthropy” – philanthropy that will make a difference and result in real impact to society. I humbly submit that CASK is doing just this.
CASK Outreach programmes – What’s the impact of providing safe drinking water in schools? – protects the children from food and waterborne diseases. What’s the impact of providing footwear to those who walk barefoot? – protects the children from hookworm and other soil transmitted worm infestations and snake bites. What’s the impact of harvesting healthy organs from dead bodies? – saves lives or dramatically improves the quality of life of several people. What’s the impact of storing plasma, for longer periods? – saves precious blood and precious lives. We request our members, friends and well-wishers to support our various ‘impactful’ outreach programmes.
Dr Derek Lobo