Truly selfless volunteers are difficult to come by, especially in today’s world where everybody is constantly worried about their own survival and needs. In such a scenario, Ramaswamy—a Bangalore-based volunteer with a heart of gold—is bringing smiles to hundreds with his selfless dedicated work.
It does not matter if Ramaswamy is never conferred the Padma Shri…Or the Rajyotsava Award…Or any other recognition. Even if he continues for another 20 years, relentlessly doing the work he has been doing for the past 20, reaching out to each and every person in need totally selflessly and without any limits, he is happy being only Mr. Ramaswamy…Not Sir Ramaswamy or Hon’ble Ramaswamy.
20 years ago, Ramaswamy retired from a senior position in a reputed public sector unit. He had many offers in the private sector with tempting salaries due to his expertise in design of aircraft, but he chose not to take up employment. He wanted to do something more meaningful and give back to society.
Looking around, he chanced upon a newspaper announcement calling for volunteers to work in hospitals through Banjara Academy’s Helping Hand, and he knew that he had found his calling.
Two decades later, he has a tight routine. If it’s Wednesday, he is in NIMHANS, if it’s Thursday he is tending to cancer patients in Kidwai Hospital. Other days, other major hospitals, and on Tuesdays, he meets families in distress at the counseling centre of Banjara Academy.
Ramaswamy does not offer advice, or just give emotional support. Almost every day, he is fixing up some family who may have come from rural North Karnataka or West Bengal for treatment and does not know where to go. He is there at the hospital at the fixed time, taking charge from the time they enter the gate—doing their registration, introducing them to the doctors, following up on therapies and treatment, and for poor people, even fighting for concessions or getting relief from the government.
When someone falls sick, or a loved one is dying, or there is an accident or disability, or when someone is struck down with mental illness, Ramaswamy is the first name that comes to the mind of innumerable people.
They know him by word-of-mouth or through those who contact Banjara Academy.
One phone call later, Ramaswamy does not give you advice on what to do—he just informs you how many minutes it will take for him to reach you. Like the pizza delivery man, Ramaswamy is with you in minutes. He takes charge, quietly runs around doing everything possible to relieve the situation, provides solace and reassurance, and manages to get results at lightning speed.
Be it a case of brain trauma or mental illness at NIMHANS, a serious case of cancer in Kidwai Hospital, helping somebody destitute who needs admission in a government hospital, or assisting a person from a far-off village lost and desolate looking for a cure in the giant city of Bangalore, he’s there.
Ramaswamy has the uncanny knack of making friends with the right people—never for himself, but to ensure that the contacts he builds up will be useful when the next emergency strikes a stranger who calls out to him. Travelling from one corner of the city to another—be it by car, scooter, or BMTC bus—he does not hesitate to take every suffering soul to the right destination for the most appropriate and affordable cure. Also, he does not stop with that.
He knows where financial relief is available, and which authorities to wake from their slumber to release the most deserved concessions or grants to the poorest of the poor.
I cannot say for sure, but I am sure often, he quietly also pulls out money from his own pocket when no other source is forthcoming and there is an emergency, the same way he insists on treating his co-volunteers to coffee or snacks in any of the hospitals he may be at.
There is no mass movement on social media with thousands of “likes” and fervent appeals for him to be recognized or awarded. People prefer to take timely help and then move on to their busy lives.
Ask yourself truthfully—do you want to keep recollecting and talking about the time when your father was in immense pain, and was dying? That was the time you probably reached out for help, and everyone pointed to only one number—9945973585! If you dialed that number, the unbelievably efficient and resourceful Ramaswamy took care of half your burden.
So what does he remind you of? Sad days, and times of pain or helplessness. He has become synonymous with illness, desperation, and death. Now that you are happy and moving ahead with life, he is the last person you want to think of.
What does this noble soul want? He has never even hinted about getting any form of gratitude or appreciation, forget craving for rewards or recognition. The moment he resolves one emergency and the patient is under proper medical care, he quietly slips out.
He perhaps stops for tea at the hospital canteen, and drives off to look after the next person in distress.
Ramaswamy does not aspire for any awards. The innumerable people who have received timely and crucial help from him show any interest in such an endeavour either. Hence, he moves on among the crowd, very contented and peaceful with what he is doing. Even among the sick and dying, his sense of humour is great. He never forgets to compliment a lady. He is ever ready to take you to the hospital canteen and get you the best snacks or coffee. Even if he continues his selfless work for years and years, he will remain only what he is – Ramaswamy! For that itself is a title and an honour.
If you’d like to know more about how you can reach out like Ramaswamy as a volunteer in major hospitals of Bengaluru, do send an email.