From 19 April to 1 May 2004, 70 children of the BAPS Children’s Forum in Kolkata participated in the ‘Prayer for the Sick’ project. This project was uniquely designed to enable children to visit patients individually in hospitals in the city and pray for their quick recovery. Two results are produced from this:
1. Patients have visitors who show genuine concern, understanding and care.
2. Children are introduced to a form of social service for the ill.
In 1997, boys and girls visited 8 hospitals and met 774 patients in Kolkata. This year a total of 70 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14 were carefully selected and trained to visit 11 hospitals and to meet over 1000 patients in the city.
The 11 hospitals chosen were:
1. Sri Sri Lakshminarayan Trust Maternity Home & Hospital – Bhawanipore,
2. Health Point Nursing Home – Bhawanipore,
3. The Gujarat Relief Society Hospital – Pollock Street,
4. The Calcutta Gujarati Hospital – Radha Bazar Street,
5. AMRI Hospital near Dhakuria Bridge,
6. B. M. Birla Heart Research Centre – Alipore,
7. Kothari Medical Centre – Alipore,
8. Calcutta Medical Research Institute – Diamond Harbour Road,
9. Bellevue Clinic – near Minto Park,
10. The Vishuanand Hospital – Bartalla Street,
11. Woodlands Hospital & Medical Research Centre – Alipore
During the visits BAPS children met each patient, introduced themselves and explained the purpose of their visit. They then inquired about the patient and their illness. Thereafter, they would sing a small prayer and present the patient with a prayer card and a fresh rose. Roughly five to seven minutes were spent with each patient.
Many patients cried in front of the children saying, “Our own children do not come to see us and these children, who we don’t even know, are lovingly praying for our fast recovery.”
In Kothari Medical Centre, one relative said, “In 1997, when I was admitted in this hospital, your children had prayed for my speedy recovery. Today, we meet again when you have come to pray for my daughter who is hospitalised.”
At each hospital, the management, administrators and medical personnel overwhelmed.
The children, too, found the visits worthwhile and satisfying.