Being a man of many talents, Rohan Rajan’s credentials include Professor of Orthopaedics at The University Hospitals of Derby and Professor of Biomechanics and Gait at the University of Derby, Britain. However, his most shining achievement may just be what’s not on his resume.
Born Rohan Ananda Rajan, in Kuala Lumpur, he had the value of hard work and the virtue of generosity instilled in him by his parents, from an early age.
He did his primary schooling at Francis Light School, Penang, and secondary schooling at Penang Free School. He then headed to Britain to pursue his tertiary education in orthopaedics.
Once well into his career as a consultant in orthopaedic surgery in Britain, the very qualities inculcated in him during his childhood prompted him to give back, in any way he could, to communities of lesser means. And so, Prof Rajan and a group of like-minded doctors began performing surgeries for charity in India. This philanthropic endeavour soon led to the group providing their services to the landlocked country of Nepal, which is among the poorest countries in the world.
Prof Rajan says he and his good friend James Metcalfe, a fellow orthopaedic surgeon, went on to form their own charity, the Neverest Foundation.
“We decided to teach orthopaedic surgery to the surgeons in Nepal, and also to supply them with orthopaedic surgical kits. On average, my team and I deliver about £500,000 (RM2.6mil) worth of orthopaedic surgical and anaesthetic kits each year,” says the professor.
“We wanted to provide sustainable, long-term benefits to the poor in Nepal, and not simply parachute in when help is needed. This ensures that Nepal will eventually become less reliant on charity and stand on its own two feet. We wanted to show them how to ‘fish’ and not simply give them a ‘fish’ when they are hungry.”
The good work would not have been possible without their tight-knit group of trusted individuals. “I have formed a dedicated team of orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthetist, nurses and theatre specialists who come out with Neverest Orthopaedics each year for about two weeks in Nepal, since 2013,” says Prof Rajan.
In addition to their bountiful donations, members of the foundation regularly teach in three teaching hospitals in Kathmandu and two teaching hospitals in Chitwan.
The greatest need for help arose after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the land-locked country in April 2015. Much of the country was reduced to rubble, with damage estimated at US$10bil (RM41.7bil).
Upon hearing the tragic news, a wave of anxiety swept over Prof Rajan and his team. The “desperation and the desire to help was felt,” recalls Prof Rajan. “Many from my team were keen to go out immediately to aid in the recovery of Nepali citizens affected.”
However, they could not immediately go into Nepal due to the ensuing chaos from the earthquake. The team had to remain patient, and could only return to Nepal later in the year.
Their return would prove to be highly beneficial. “We rescued 11 orphaned girls affected by the earthquake from the trafficking trade and housed them safely in Kathmandu, paying for their upkeep.”
In addition, the team acquired a plot of land in Lapsifedi and built an orphanage called the Neverest Foundation Home, says Prof Rajan.
Some may wonder at the professor’s devotion to this foreign country.
His answer is: “(Nepali people are) a quiet, unassuming and polite people who make do with the little they have. They do not ask for handouts and, I feel, are a proud people despite their poverty.”
He adds, “My parents worked hard and instilled in my two younger brothers and me good work ethics and the importance of caring for those less fortunate than us. We all have it in us to help those less fortunate.”
As for the foundation, Prof Rajan says, “I hope the Neverest Foundation will continue to deliver high quality orthopaedic surgical training to the orthopaedic surgeons in Nepal and provide them with equipment. Hopefully, we will also complete the construction of a badly needed spinal rehabilitation unit in Chitwan.”
Looking at the world today, many may feel as if their efforts are not significant. However, Prof Rajan believes otherwise. “Please do not ever feel as though your contributions, no matter how small, will have no impact. Never ever forget, most importantly, in the power of prayer.”
He continues in his efforts to assist the people of Nepal, including adopting 10 Nepali girls in hopes of providing a better life for them. They are currently housed at the Neverest Foundation Home.