My Visit To Amte's Animal Ark (Bhamragad , Dist. Gadchiroli ) for more info : http://lokbiradariprakalp.org/ Background: Lok Biradari Prakalp (LBP), a project of the Maharogi Sewa Samiti(MSS), Warora, was started by the legendary social worker Baba Amte in 1973 for integrated development of Madia-Gond, the primitive tribals of Bhamragad in Gadchiroli District of Maharashtra, India. Baba's younger son Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Mandakini Amte are running the project since 1974, forfeiting the opportunity of lucrative medical practice. Many dedicated volunteers like Vilas & Renuka Manohar, Gopal & Prabha Phadnis, Dada & Baban Panchal, Jagan Machkale, Manohar & Sandhya Yempalwar etc. since then, have joined LBP. Dr. Digant and Aniket sons of Prakash and Mandakini and their wives have also joined LBP. The following are the current activities of LBP. (A) The Hospital: The MSS's Tribal Welfare Programmes have gained international recognition for their preservation of the culture of tribals of India, who are facing extinction through modern development, exploitation and disease. Dr.Prakash and Dr.(Mrs) Mandakini Amte have both worked tirelessly under extremely difficult conditions to help in the preservation of India's tribal people. Lok Biradari Prakalp (The People's Brotherhood) [Est. -- 1973] situated in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra serves the Madia-Gond tribals who are alienated from the outside world. In this particular project primary health care was given top priority. Six sub centres were started in the interior forest area, geographically wide apart from the main hospital, of which three are still functional. The early years of the project entailed a massive struggle in the extremely difficult conditions of a thick and remote forest. The centre, started in 1973, has recently developed into a full fledged hospital having 40 beds and caters to over 45,000 patients annually. At Hemalkasa the hospital is ensconced in the surrounding dense forest, where the Madia Gond tribal patients feel most comfortable in recuperating after their treatment. Hundreds of patients come daily to the hospital traversing long and difficult terrain on foot. Dr.Prakash and Manda treat almost 45,000 patients every year entirely free of cost and provide round the clock services for the emergency cases. The tribals have such high regard for them, that instead of visiting the nearby primary health centres run by the state govt., they prefer to come walking from long distances of upto 100 kms and carrying their sick on the makeshift stretcher of an ordinary charpai. It takes them sometimes 3-4 days to reach Hemalkasa. (B) Educational Development -- School: A residential school (1st to 12th Standard) was started in 1976 for the tribal children now giving free education to nearly 650 students. They are provided with hostel accommodation and given free lodging and boarding facilities. All education material is also provided free of cost to them. Apart from the formal education, they are also provided vocational training and guidance, which will be useful in their day to day life. e.g.- practical training in farming, seed production, dairy, bamboo craft, ceramic art, greeting cards, tailoring, health education etc. These programmes are aimed at the survival of the tribals and all efforts have been made to bring about awareness of social rights and duties through continued dialogue and social exposure. Dr.Kanna Madavi, Dr.Pandurang Pungati, Dr.Komti Durwa, Dr.Sudhakar Wachami the Madia Gond tribal boys from the area completed their schooling at Hemalkasa. Dr. Digant and Aniket sons of Prakash and Mandakini, also completed their schooling at Hemalkasa. (C) Preservation of Wild Life: A small sheltered enclosure has been formed at Hemalkasa to keep orphaned babies of wild animals, thereby protecting them from merciless killing. This rescue-cum-orphanage, houses probably one of the largest one man collection of wild animals in the country and the world at large. The Hemalkasa community of workers live in complete harmony with a great diversity of wild animals still to be found in this relatively undisturbed, thick forest. Amte's Animal Ark -- Orphanage cum Rescue Center at Hemalkasa includes panthers, bears, snakes, deer, wild boars, crocodiles etc.