February 2021

Smile Foundation




70 year old Paiti Ram from Matiyari village in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, had accepted hypertension and chronic body ache as part of his everyday life. He spent most of his life working on daily wages at a cement factory to provide for his family. Dependent on his son’s meager income, at first, he was reluctant to even share his health problems or seek healthcare services hoping the pain would go away on its own. Later, as the pain increased, he started facing difficulty in doing simple activities, even walking around the village and taking care of the animals at home.

He decided to visit the village quack, but got no relief. Finally, he shared his affliction with his son, who then took him to the nearest government hospital 20kms away from the village. Just as Paiti Ram’s problems were finally getting over, the Covid-19 pandemic started. Because of his old age, he was at higher risk of being affected, and his son decided that it was best for his father to stay at home as advised.

For 14 year old Sameer from Mohara village, a small skin infection became a major health affliction. His mother and father could not take him for treatment to the nearest government hospital because of lockdown. Itching only worsened his condition and made it unbearable for the innocent child. Lack of awareness and hygiene also prevented Sameer’s recovery, and his parents started feeling helpless watching their son’s agony.

Like Paiti Ram and Sameer, thousands of people from 14 villages of Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh have found an answer to their health problems in the Smile on Wheels mobile hospital that regularly visits their community, delivering primary healthcare services at their doorsteps. Most of them being farmers and daily wagers, they have always had to lose a day’s wage to make the trip to the hospital. Their other resort was village quacks that were both uncertified and unreliable. The pandemic meant that their visit to the government hospital also became restricted, leaving them with no respite.

Talking about providing services during the pandemic, Dr Sadan Kumar, heading the medical team of the project shares, “I have been working with the Smile on Wheels project in Bilaspur for the last nine months to serve the villagers who are in need. I have spent my childhood in a village too, and can relate very well with their problems. Covid-19 has created a difficult situation for many, especially in terms of accessing healthcare. We have been providing healthcare services in these villages by following proper social distancing protocols, and are also trying our best to make the community aware and prepared in the face of the pandemic.”

Amit Bairagya, Project Coordinator at Bilaspur adds, “We feel blessed that in this critical time we are able to help those who need our support. The pandemic has made people realize that health is truly wealth and we must give it priority in our lives. Our aim with the community people is also to build a health seeking behavior in the long term by adopting everyday hygiene practices, eating healthy and nutritious food, and seeking medical attention when required.”

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