The Amtes: Three generations of social work

The Amtes: Three generations of social works

Baba Amte got the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1985, while his son Prakash and daughter-in-law Mandakini got the award in 2008

Late Baba Amte, the legendary social worker, once drove fancy cars, wrote film reviews for The Picture Goer, collaborated with Hollywood icons like Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer – but what made him earn a name was that he was a true and committed Gandhian.

The three generations of Amtes can be considered Maharashtra’s numero uno family in the field of social work.

The family is in the news after one of the members – Dr Sheetal Amte-Karajgi died by suicide on Monday.

Born on December 26, 1914, in Wardha, Murlidhar Devidas Amte 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 he gave him the title of AbhayaSadhak, a fearless seeker of truth.

Also Read | Baba Amte's granddaughter allegedly dies by suicide

Baba Amte first took a course on the care of leprosy patients and then settled down in Chandrapur. The 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 disability. These people under Baba Amte's guidance transformed this rocky and barren land into a model farm.  This farm now produces vegetables and dairy products for neighbouring villages and is economically self-sufficient. The place is named Anandwan, literally a Forest of Happiness. 

Baba’s has two sons who are also doctor-social workers - Dr Vikas and Dr Prakash. Incidentally, their wives, Dr Bharti and Dr Mandakani, too are doctors.

While Vikas oversees the functioning of Anandvan in Chandrapur and runs the Maharogi Sewa Samiti, his brother Prakash runs the Lok Biradari Prakalp, which translates to Brotherhood of People project, at Bhamragad in neighbouring Gadchiroli district.

Incidentally, Baba Amte got the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1985, while his son Prakash and daughter-in-law Mandakini got the award in 2008.