An Accident Inspired TN Man To Provide Free Ambulance Service, Meals in Rural Areas
May 11, 2022
In the small city of Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, when any person requires medical help or immediate ambulance service – one name that crops up each time is that of 35-year-old Durai Prithviraj.
Durai owns two ambulances and an NGO named Rajesh Udhavum Karangal, to support those in need. The ambulances are used to transport people within a 40-kilometer radius of Virudhunagar, to and from the hospital.
And, he does this free of cost. Whenever he requires funds, he uses his savings or crowdfunds the money through friends and acquaintances. Not only does he provide free ambulance services, but provides free meals to the underprivileged, arranges funds for healthcare services, and more.
A personal tragedy
In 2008, while residing in Virudhunagar, Durai found himself in dire need of an ambulance. His younger brother had met with an accident, 20 km away from his home, near a village named Aruppukottai.
“We were young students in college when my brother met with a fatal accident. No one around that area could offer help immediately because there was no ambulance or hearse van to take his body to the hospital or bring him back home. I had to pay a large sum of money to arrange the facilities and conduct his last rites,” says Durai in an interview with CSRBOX.
He was deeply troubled by this incident. He wondered what would have happened if he could not afford to pay for the transport?
This led him to think about the plight of people living below the poverty line. He wondered what they would do in such situations.
Saving money and helping people
In 2011, after graduating from college, Durai got a job as a Village Administrative Officer in a place named Aruppukottai, with a decent salary. He began saving money from his earnings to purchase a van that he could use as an ambulance for his village.
“Every month, I’d save almost 50% of my earnings to purchase the van. Apart from that, I would spend some more money from my salary, and raise the rest of the amount from others to help those in need. This includes providing them with bedding, blankets, clothes, food, and medicines,” says Durai.
Through his motivation, and help from others, in 2018, Durai saved enough money to purchase a second-hand Omni for Rs 1,80,000. Further, he modified the interiors, added a bed and purchased a few first aid kits.
Durai does not hesitate to help the financially weak. He has offered free rides to several people and has taken them as far as 100 kilometers for medical treatment.
“Mostly, we do not ask anyone for payment, but if a person can afford to pay, they can provide a small fee which will be used for the maintenance of the van,” says Durai.
After hearing about Durai’s philanthropy, other government officers, individuals, businessmen, and extended family members stepped forward and offered monetary help. Soon, the word about Durai’s service spread across the state. Even media channels supported him by amplifying the work he was doing. Today, he has Whatsapp groups with over 500 members who step in to help whenever there is an urgent requirement.
To further Durai’s efforts, an anonymous donor offered to provide one more van.
Durai says, “The donor purchased a second-hand van, had it modified by removing the seating in the back to fit a bed, and donated it to Rajesh Udhavum Karangal.”
Wanting to remain anonymous, the donor asked Durai to name that ambulance after his late grandmother, Aandalamma.
“On the rear window, we have written the words ‘Aandalammavin thunai’ which translates to ‘under the protection of Aandalamma’,” says Durai.
Providing food and shelter to the underprivileged
Durai did not stop there. He noticed that in rural areas surrounding Virudhunagar, several people were living in poor conditions. They did not have a regular income, proper meals, or a place to stay.
“So, I converted a part of my home into a resting space for anyone who wishes to sleep. Apart from that, we also provide free meals to anyone hungry. This work is carried out with the help of 15 volunteers who are a part of Rajesh Udhavum Karangal. They cook, clean, and serve meals,” says Durai.
To offer sound medical help, there are also MBBS students and practicing doctors who offer free medical help.
If you wish to know more or support Durai’s mission, you can contact him at 9842122046.
Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.
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