It's a sight you just can't miss! The septuagenarian with a struggling swagger stands out in his bright saffron pyjama-kurta with bold printing on the front (in Hindi) and back (in English) announcing his credentials as a 'Mobile Medicine Bank'. Meet Omkar Nath Sharma, who is best known by the nickname that signifies his life's mission--Medicine Baba, your not-so-common mobile medicine bank for the underprivileged!
For the past seven years now, Mr Sharma, a retired technician from a hospital in New Delhi, has been leaving his rented house at Manglapuri at 6am everyday to go knocking door to door in different areas of Delhi. He asks people to donate unused medicines, which he then distributes to charitable hospitals, NGOS and clinics.
He himself is struggling as much as those that he is trying to help.
Mr Sharma started this initiative when he realized the acute lack of access that the underprivileged have to medicines. The turning point for him came when he witnessed an under-construction Delhi Metro bridge collapse in 2008, claiming the lives of two labourers and injuring many others. The local hospital administered basic first aid, but nothing else and the injured returned home to suffer quietly, unable to afford the cost of treatment. That incident shook Mr Sharma and he became determined to not let something like this happen again.
Your admiration grows notch higher when you realize that he himself is struggling as much as those that he is trying to help. He has a caring wife but also has a 44-year-old mentally challenged son. A car accident left his legs permanently damaged and he finds it difficult and painful to walk. Still, Mr Sharma walks 5-6km every day to collect medicines. And as metro fare is beyond his reach, his only option to commute, other than walk, is using buses with the help of his senior citizen pass. In alleys and corners, where buses do not ply, he simply walks!
At the end of every collection, Mr Sharma carefully catalogues everything in his binder: the name of the drug, expiry date and the home or place from he collected it. And it's all voluntary work. Mr Omkar Nath Sharma is truly the Medicine Baba!
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