When the country was partitioned in 1947, crores of people changed. Out of their roots, many of the families settled here and there lived either in India, nor in Pakistan. The fate continued to wander from city to city, and then he went to a third country and found his whereabouts. Raj Punjabi’s grandfather came to Mumbai after being razed from Sindh. But seeing the new city, new temperament people, the end of the day, the capital and the living-bread did not make any appearance, he came to Indore. In Indore too, his hopes did not find a solid foundation and eventually in the seventies Raj’s parents moved to the West African country of Liberia.
Raj was born in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. It is a matter of 1989. Nine-year-old Raj was in the fourth grade then. The whole world was busy with Christmas preparations, but tensions and fears were increasing in Monroevia’s Fijas. In fact, civil war broke out in another part of the country and rebel fighters were marching towards the capital day by day. School-colleges were closed and the city’s only international airport was also taken over by the rebels.
The nine-year-old child could not understand exactly why his school was closed. Why are people in such a panic and why are they evacuating their house? Raj would have been aware of the answers to these questions that the mother suddenly said one morning- ‘Son, pack your things as soon as possible, we have to leave immediately.’ As much as could be carried, the Punjabi family assimilated and all went towards the ship. Run away.
The view there was very tragic. Everyone had the same pain, but there he was divided into two queues. One line went towards the entrance of the plane, the other was in front of it. The queue that Raj was in was directly connected to the entrance of the aircraft. Liberians standing in the second line wanted to run into Raj’s line, but the army strictly pushed them back. There were many children among them, who had school bags hanging on their shoulders. They were not allowed to leave. Like teenage eyes, she became a perpetual map.
Once again the family had changed. They flee to Monrovia, arriving first in Sierra Leone, and then shortly after with the help of a family of friends, Raj’s family finds refuge in the High Point city of North Carolina (USA). The people there were very nice. He not only adopted the Punjabi family with an open heart, but also guided it. Raj’s father also helped him to open a cold drink shop and Raj’s education. When the teenage son comes to the shop to hand over the father at the end of the week, he often feeds him like a mantra-chupi – no situation is permanent.
Raj was deeply felt by the parents’ struggle. The golden opportunity to realize the dream that Liberia’s war had destroyed was now in front of them and they did not let this opportunity go unsaid. A few years of practice also marked the days when the University of North Carolina graduated in medicine and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School awarded Raj a master’s degree in epidemiology.
After about 15 years as a medical student, Raj once again returned to the country where he was born, had a childhood, and took care. Traces of destruction from place to place were present in Liberia. Raj was disappointed to see that only 51 doctors were cared for by the population of about 40 lakhs. People living in remote areas die only because they do not have access to doctors.
In such a remote village, the death of a two-year-old innocent from malaria caused Raj to die. Had he been brought to the doctor on time, he would have survived. Raj deposited six thousand dollars with the help of friends, his wedding gifts, etc. and started the organization ‘Last Mile Health’ in 2007. Under this, he worked to train community health workers so that basic health services could reach the sick people of remote areas. This noble initiative attracted everyone. Impressed by Raj’s actions, Bill Gates came forward to help him.