Overlooked #3 – The Visionary Colonel

A couple of months back, when I had to go to Pakistan for my mother’s operation, I visited a Dialysis Center associated with the Pakistan Kidney Patient association. This center is specifically run for the homeless and less fortunate, in other words those who cannot afford the even the most basic of healthcare. My father and I have been in contact with the retired colonel who runs the center – A brilliant man by the name of Yunus – for almost two years now. In that time we have been fundraising to our family friends, school friends and acquaintances here in Dubai, and I was ecstatic to have finally gotten the chance to visit the facility first hand.

Speaking to the Mr. Yunus, he talked to me about his facility and the financial restraints he goes through on a regular basis. Since philanthropy has always appealed to me, such a project only fueled my interest further and I asked the kind sir if he could break down some of the costs involved in running such a facility. The Colonel happily obliged. Below are his answers to my questions compiled into a convenient narrative. Naturally, Paraphrasing is involved and the amounts have been converted to US Dollars since it is internationally recognized (Keep in mind the different parities though).

“I started this facility 14 years ago, with only 40,000 PKR (≈ 380 USD) in my pocket. I had no access to clean water, no staff, no beds or any medical equipment of sorts. Today, after laboring through the years of hard work, I finally have a facility that has developed fantastically over the years and does its job quite competently.

We have fixed a mini water filtration plant inside the facility (getting access to clean water is becoming easier in Islamabad but wasn’t always so in the past) through which water is purified in a 9-step process.However, this wasn’t a cheap endeavor, and the medical equipment added to the arduous financial strain. Currently, we have 28 beds in the facility and each one has its own dialysis machine.
Each machine cost us about 1.2 million PKR (≈ 11500 USD) and whenever a spare part needs replacing, you can estimate an additional 100,000 PKR (≈ 950 USD). To add to this, I am certain you know about the volatile load shedding situation here, so buying a generator was another (pricey) no brainer. We bought a really powerful one for 2.6 million PKR (≈ 24700 USD) and that is WITHOUT the fuel expenses
*Chuckles politely*. But, it was a necessary purchase and it’s worked out efficiently for us so far, so I am happy with it.

Naturally, we have employed full time doctors and the appropriate staff, but we have 11 full-time personnel as well who volunteer their time free of charge, for which I shall be eternally grateful. You see, we charge each patient 11 PKR (≈ 0.10 USD) per dialysis and 26 PKR (≈ 0.24 USD) for each blood test. Since these costs are so low, we almost always have a waiting list for patients and even have a makeshift GP downstairs to treat those who come in with problems unrelated to kidney failure.

Since we charge so little, our primary source of income is fundraising. We have absolutely no government support and the treatment bills barely make a dent into the overheads. Thus, due to the exchange rates, I urge all the overseas residents I meet to donate, even if just a little. For example, my nephew in Australia collaborates with his friends and each of them send 10 AUD each month (≈ 750 PKR), just like you”

The reason I decided to share this information with you guys because I felt that more often than not this type of work gets overlooked.
We NEED more appreciation for magnanimous efforts in today’s society.

If someone stops by, all they see is a building. What they miss is the blood and sweat cemented into the walls, telling a story of how one individual vision can change countless lives.

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