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One Step At A Time

Friday, September 09, 2016

From being a skin specialist and an inspirational role model, to starting a mini solar grid project, Dr. Seemma Saadhika is an all-rounder! Khevna Pandit speaks to her to find out more about the initiatives and her career in medicine

When asked to choose a career, most of us spend time examining the future, choosing the path that appears to be the most lucrative. Then there are those of us who choose to follow what we’re most passionate about, even if it’s not the most financially rewarding option. However, for Dr. Seemma Saadhika, neither thought was the first to cross her mind when someone asked her the question. For her, the perfect career was something that allowed her to make people smile! So, it’s no surprise that she’s put several initiatives in motion that provide higher education of a better calibre to those who need it. And, her successful career as an anti-ageing specialist has an interesting backstory too. We spoke to her to find out more about her career as a skin specialist and the charity work that she has been involved with in villages across the country.

You specialised in anti-ageing treatments. Tell us more about this. What made you pursue this field in particular?
Anti-ageing medicine is all about your mind, body and soul. It’s about your physical, mental and spiritual well-being, not just about treating the symptoms, but also about treating the cause. I was drawn to this approach because it’s not just about prescribing pills, but about lifestyle management. I work with the individual to change their life for the better; giving them hope for a good life excites me. It’s always nice to see people with happy faces — that gives me a high of sorts.

Tell us something about your early childhood. Were you always inclined towards medicine?
No, I wasn’t. I was never inclined to be a doctor. As a child, I always played the role of a teacher with friends or siblings, but destiny had different plans for me. My grandmother and mother thought that I would be a good doctor. I was a shy child and couldn’t stand the sight of blood or injuries. At one point, when I was in my third year of medicine, I had a slight dilemma, because I was put in a position where I had to rethink my career choice. My grandmother, who has always been my strength and inspiration told me that the choices that you make today are those that decide your future. She was the one who reminded me that as a doctor I could serve people forever. That kind of advice made me think, and I eventually decided to continue with medicine. I am glad I took her advice.

You’ve been awarded the Roshnii Young Achievers award for NGOs. Tell us something about your initiative, Namma Mitra?
Namma Mitra was born when I was at a medical camp. While interacting with groups of women and men about their problems, I realised that these camps, which take place once every six months, hardly help the people who live in rural areas. If these people were financially independent, they would have provided themselves and their children with better healthcare and education. That’s when I make the decision to work for the development of the entire community. The work that we have done in Banadur was something people really needed. They wanted electricity because power was only supplied to the village for four hours; children could not study and the elders could not work. So, we started the mini solar grid project and installation.
What was working in the Banadur village like for you? Tell us some of your experiences.

The children asked me to help them with their studies; they wanted tuitions, but there were no teachers willing to come to the village to give them extra classes. We further introduced an evening study centre with E SHALA (from standard V to X, with all subjects including English), using solar energy. The children are now doing well in school. The news spread to neighbouring villages and people there also want a similar set up for their children. They have realised that a good education will make better citizens.

You’re moving towards providing technology for education to 850 students. Can you tell us more about this project?
The children there are smart and enthusiastic, but lack the infrastructure and facilities they require for education. They want to match their steps with children from the cities. When we decided to get them trained, the idea of setting up computer labs came into play. It was heartening to see that even teachers wanted computer education. We are trying to source around 60 computers and have approached corporates and individuals to give us their used computers (that they would otherwise have discarded) to help us in this cause. We will soon appoint computer teachers in the lab for the students.

Are there any other ventures that you handle?
We have also introduced tailoring classes as an empowerment project for women, but it’s now gender neutral. In addition, we started a mobile repair training camp. Two physically challenged people are pursuing it as a career. They have put in a request for a laptop as it would help them with their work. We also encourage self employment projects and provide them with solar power or any other support they need. There are requests from other villages regarding the same projects, so I’m now looking forward to adopting some of the neighbouring hamlets as well.

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