Sai Aashraya: Servicing the most marginalized with love

Sai Prasad Venkatachalam, cofounder of a new hospital in Karnataka, tells the American Bazaar about his passion for healthcare

By Venkatesh Raghavendra and Payton Souders

In his second year of undergraduate, Sai Prasad Venkatachalam underwent a cardiac arrest that left him bedridden. After he recovered, Sai Prasad took this painful experience and turned it into something inspiring.

Sai Prasad was lucky enough to receive top-notch health care while he was ill, but he knew that for so many this was not the case. He took this knowledge and founded Sai Aashraya, a non-profit organization that provides affordable and wholistic healthcare to marginalized communities across Karnataka, India.

Sai Aashraya’s newest project is the Super Specialty Hospital. This facility will provide cardiac and obstetrics and gynecology care free of cost to the communities in Kolar District, Southern Karnataka.

Venkatesh Raghavendra and Payton Souders sat down with Sai Prasad, during his recent visit to the US, to discuss his journey, the hospital, and wholistic healthcare for all.

Read: A home away from home for parents of Indians abroad (January 19, 2022)

Venkatesh and Payton: Please tell us about Sai Aashraya and the mission of this organization.

Sai Prasad: I will first tell you about our impact. In the last five years, eight schools have been adopted, five million fresh and healthy meals have been served (as of June 2022), 70,000+ patients have been treated and six villages have been adopted in some of the most remote parts of India.

Sai Aashraya’s vision is to bring global harmony and universal peace through selfless love expressing itself as service to humanity. Sai Aashraya’s mission is carried out through the pillars of food & nutrition, medicare, education, and social care.

Through the various Seva initiatives taken up under these four pillars, we aim to achieve Equality, Integrity, Unity, and Fraternity. All of Sai Aashraya’s Seva projects take the highest quality Seva offerings to the doorstep of the people living in some of the most under-served, diverse and challenging locations. To Love All – Serve All is the mission that Sai Aashraya is on.

P&V: What led to your passion for healthcare and the creation of Sai Aashraya?

SP: When I was in my second year of undergraduate I went through a series of health issues that left my body broken. At that point I asked myself why I was blessed to receive this quality treatment by so many doctors as well as access to all the medications I needed. Why was the same not available for many people not too far from where I was?

Our first project (still going strong today) was our Breakfast Seva, which provides breakfast to hundreds of kids that would otherwise have nothing to eat before school. As we started Breakfast Seva, our daily interactions with people inspired us to enter the healthcare field.

We started by carrying out Super Specialty Medicare Camps in Bengaluru every month and then expanded by adopting villages in some of the remotest parts of India. Today, we have treated about 70,000 patients all over India.

In some of the places where we work, people have not even met a doctor in their life. Taking the most loving and holistic healthcare to them became our mission.

P&V: The Super Specialty Hospital is a very ambitious initiative. In what phase is the hospital now?

SP: The construction of the state of the art 220 bed super speciality hospital specializing in pediatric and adult cardiac care and mother & child care (OB/GYN) is now making rapid progress and the first floor of the hospital is almost complete and so are the first floors of the other amenities blocks in our campus.

P&V: Who will the hospital serve, and what care will be provided to them?

SP: This hospital will serve people from some of the most under-served communities in India. We will be adopting about 36 villages around our hospital in addition to the six villages that we have currently adopted.

We envision the hospital to bring about a holistic transformation in the lives of all the people who have given us the opportunity to carry out Seva and discover our true selves. A research centre is also being established to see how we can find ways to prevent the problem rather than just treat and cure the patient.

A big part of the work by the hospital will go towards bringing more awareness among people about everyday life which will ensure that we see lesser patients as the years go by!

P&V: How can those of us in the US that care about equitable access to healthcare stay connected to you and your work?

SP: Sai Aashraya is also a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit here in the USA as Sai Aashraya INC. There are daily service activities taking place here in the USA, touching the lives of the people living on the streets of Oakland, San Jose and Dallas.

By working with them every day, we have been able to transform their lives in the most meaningful way, enabling them to become self-reliant.

People from the United States and other parts of the world have been incredibly supportive of the work that is being carried out by Sai Aashraya. Many of them have joined us by volunteering efforts, providing technical expertise, financial contributions etc.

Physicians from the US also want to be involved by coming over to our hospital and performing surgeries once a year and have assured us of conducting training workshops etc for the nursing staff in our hospital.

It will be wonderful if many more people can join us on the ground or lend their support in any of the above areas (i.e., by helping set up things in areas of their interest/expertise etc).

For more details about this project please visit:

https://www.saiaashraya.org/saiaashraya-super-speciality-hospital and YouTube channel Episode 7 – Sai Aashraya Super Speciality Hospital (SASSH)

(Venkatesh Raghavendra is a Contributing Editor of American Bazaar and a global social entrepreneur.  Payton Souders is a young professional and social impact consultant)

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