Mahatma Gandhi attracted to himself, men and women from diverse fields and region committed to social action
By Vasudha Pande
Like Gandhi many sensitive men and women felt that more than medicines, it was the solid rehabilitation of leprosy patients that would help them recover not only health but also dignity and self respect.
One such man, who decided to dedicate himself to this cause was Murlidhar Devidas Amte better known as Baba Amte. Born on 26th December 1914 in Maharashtra, Amte grew up at a time when Indians were resisting British rule. He too joined the freedom struggle and went to jail for civil disobedience. He became a disciple of Gandhiji and decided to fight for the fear of leprosy- it is for this reason that Gandhiji gave him the title of Abhayasadhak.
Baba Amte first took a course on care of leprosy patients. Then he decided to settle down in Chandrapur, Maharashtra. Here he acquired two hundred and fifty acres of land. His Ashram became a home for the destitute and homeless, many of whom were leprosy patients. Many of them, who had been cured, had lost their fingers , hands, toes or feet and could not go back to their professions because they were disabled. Baba Amte helped each one of them to acquire skills, despite their handicap. These people under Baba Amte's guidance transformed this rocky and barren land into a model farm. This farm now produced vegetables and dairy products for neighbouring villages and is economically self sufficient. But most important of all, it is a place which has become an 'Abode of Joy' or 'Anandvan'.
Source: Everyone's Gandhi, Transmitted by Gandhi Peace Foundation and Press Trust of India