Why a doctor couple gave up their lives in Tamil Nadu for a poor, tribal settlement in Assam

Dr Vijay Anand Ismavel and Dr Ann gave up their comfortable lives in urban Tamil Nadu to stay in Assam’s Karimganj to bring to life a decrepit, run-down leprosy hospital in 1993. Photos: On arrangement

In 1993, a young doctor couple landed in Assam’s Karimganj district, leaving behind a comfortable life in urban Tamil Nadu, only to find a decrepit, run-down establishment in a place beset by poverty, illiteracy and multiple socio-economic issues.

Electricity was a dim flicker and running water a luxury at the Makunda Christian Leprosy and General Hospital in Karimganj that Dr Vijay Anand Ismavel and Dr Ann had chosen to be their home for the next three decades.

In their twenties back in the early 1990s, the practising doctors had success, money and the means to live a contented life. The two, however, ached to leave the city realising that their skills were required to not just save lives, but to also transform them.

Their quest to bring about a transformational change landed them at the doors of the Makunda Hospital that catered mostly to a tribal population.

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