While pursuing her post-graduation, Dr Mehak Bansal encountered an incident that changed her life. A father abandoned his baby in the hospital as he was unable to pay the bills. Dr Bansal took care of the baby for three months until handing it over to the orphanage. When she visited the orphanage, she found a baby girl, half-eaten up by the ants, in the dustbin. This horrific incident made her push herself beyond her limits and work for the betterment of children. Since then, she has been working for the same orphanage for over 12 years. In 2021, she became a member of the Child Welfare Committee of Ludhiana and started working for five more orphanages. As a member of the Child Welfare Committee, she takes care of abandoned, abused, and orphan babies as well as missing children. Apart from medical assistance, she helps children by becoming a friend and playmates. Her other responsibilities include counselling children, connecting donors to orphanages, being involved in the legal aspects of the orphanages, and working as an adoption consultant with Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
India’s former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru quoted, “Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow,” If anyone could have understood the true meaning of this quote it has to be Dr Bansal. Growing up in the city of Ludhiana, Punjab, she developed a special corner in her heart for children. She believes it is her love for the children that pushed her to become a paediatrician in the first place. While working as a paediatrician, she found that there are numerous children in our country who are abandoned and in desperate need of help. This is when she decided to dedicate her whole life to working for the betterment of these children. She reached out to the most vulnerable children to provide them with a childhood in which they’re protected, healthy and educated.
It may seem a challenge to wake up every morning and reach out to children in need. However, to Dr Bansal who had overcome challenges in her personal life, this was the right thing to do. During an interview with SheSight, she recollected falling sick while being on a plane to Bangalore to attend college. Her ill health caused her to get admitted to the Intensive Care Unit several times during the next four years. The pressure of keeping up with her studies, scoring well in her exams and surviving felt difficult when she had to be admitted to the hospital frequently. Instead of giving up, Dr Bansal fought her battles like a true warrior and graduated with an MBBS degree. She says, “When you get admitted often, there’s a time when you lose the fear of anything; you become strong.” She believes it was her illness that pushed
her to become a good doctor.
Currently, Dr Bansal has an experience of more than 15 years in the field of Pediatrics. After her post-graduation in Pediatrics from CMC Ludhiana, she developed an interest in Pediatric Critical Care. She completed her Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship from Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, then she moved to the UK to gain experience in western Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU). She worked at reputed institutes like King’s College Hospital, London and Great Ormond Street Children Hospital, London, gaining experience in pediatric liver transplant, Critical Care Nephrology, Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care, and Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), among other areas, before moving back to India.
“My biggest challenge at the juvenile
jail was to make the place neat and
clean. Then comes the second
challenge, which was to motivate the
kids to do something. Even if I can
educate and give training to only one
person out of the 70, he’ll become a
better human being”
Violence against children is widespread and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in India. According to data by National Crime Record Bureau, 109 children in India faced sexual abuse every day in 2018. In addition to taking care of the children in orphanages, Dr Bansal has been working to defeat child abuse for the last 8 years. She explains, “I train children about ‘good touch, ‘bad touch’, self-protection techniques, what to do if something happens, and of course the importance of speaking out if they experience any form of abuse.”