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Dr. HMA Drago: The Great Servant of Humanity

By: Ayaz Morris (ayazmorris@gmail.com)

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Humanity above all and servicing the humanity are two sides of the same coin. The Contribution to serving the humanity by Christian community is a golden chapter of our history that will always shine brightly. The services of the people of this community in the field of education and health are a beacon of light for humanity. They served humanity in such a way that set an example for society.

Even today you will be met by a person who has such an everlasting story of love and service to humanity which is imprinted on the hearts of the people of Sindh especially Mirpur Khas. For this article I had to go exclusively from Karachi to Mirpur Khas.

I got to know Dr. Drago last year when I went to Mirpur Khas for a program with Bishop Samson Shukardin of Catholic Diocese Hyderabad. He took me to Dr. Drago’s house and introduced me to his family. My intention was that the new generation should be enlightened by the services of this great personality.

Finally I went to Mirpur Khas from Karachi and met Dr. Drago’s family. I got some very important and wonderful information about his personal life, services, attitude towards people and his spirit for serving humanity. I also thank those who helped and informed me about the different aspects of Dr. Drago’s personality.

Who was Dr. Drago, what were his services in Mirpur Khas? What do people say about his personality and services? How can his life and legacy become a beacon of light for today’s generation, especially those in the medical field?
Dr Hermenegildo Marcos António Francisco Gomes Drago was a Pakistani Catholic Christian doctor who was respected for his work in the areas of health, education and social welfare in the backward areas of Sindh.

Dr. Drago was born on February 28, 1907 in Goa, India; he graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay and Grant Medical College. In 1933, he moved to MirpurKhas, Sindh, Pakistan. Dr. Drago belonged to the Goans community, his family and community wanted him to become a lawyer. Dr. Drago decided to become a doctor against his family’s wishes and he pledged to render eternal service to humanity through his profession. In this regard, he faced many difficulties but he did not give up.
Dr. Drago’s family had a very good financial and social status; they had a lot of lands and other facilities, which is why he completed his education from the best and renowned medical college of that time.

Dr. Drago often said when he looks at the people around him, he realizes that God has endowed him with innumerable facilities and blessings. Therefore, he has to help people who are deprived of these facilities. In an interview with Dr. Drago, Dr.Asif Farrukhi narrated the story of his life through Dr. Drago own wording.

“Drago used to examine about twenty patients in the morning, prescribe treatment for their ailments and record the details of the ailments in various registers. Dr. Drago was from Goa, India. He was born on February 28, 1907 in Goa. His wife used to call him Harmi. Dr. Sahib matriculated from Goa. His family’s occupation was landlordism, but he sold his family lands to his farmers at very low prices. In Bombay he studied at St. Xavier’s College. He graduated from Grant Medical College in 1933, but had a bad time in Bombay.

Because he had asthma, he could not get any honors or significant success. His grandfather was the first graduate of Grant Medical College in a group of eight. He won gold medals in surgery and alm al-Abdal. Dr. Drago’s uncles later graduated with distinction in four subjects. The doctor’s grandfather, whose brother Dr. Drago was also a brother, and was the first Indian to be appointed as a judge in the subcontinent.”

During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, when trains loaded with refugees arrived in the town of Mirpur Khas, Dr. Drago waited at the railway station with volunteers to care for the injured and the sick, taking care of them and taking them to his home clinic.

He was given the title of Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1950 by Pope Pius XII for this great service. This title is given by the Catholic Church in recognition of his outstanding humanitarian and social services.

Dr. Drago’s dedication and love for the sick and needy motivated him to start the Tuberculosis Association and the Ante-Natal Clinic, which was later used by Mother and Child for the benefit of many women suffering from anemia and related problems. It was transformed into a welfare association. With the help of Dr. Ruth Pfau, he started a leprosy center in a room of his clinic for patients who had to travel to Karachi for treatment.

In 1981, he also served on a government committee for the rehabilitation of children infected with polio. He started various institutions in and around Mirpur Khas. In addition to the treatment and prevention of leprosy and tuberculosis, he also provided special scholarships for school dropouts.
Taking a special interest in education and training, he set up 15 centers in which children between the ages of 5 and 12 are taught to read, write and math.

For those who wanted to further their education, he started the program through an organization called “United Youth for a United World”. Dr. Drago united young people from different communities to work together on small projects so that they can learn to live together.

He was a charter member of Rotary Club of Mirpur Khas. He was the first district governor of the newly formed Rotary District 327.

In 1994, Dr. Drago received the Rotary International Award for Service Above Self. A significant partnership with the Rotary Club led to the opening of a Multipurpose Center in 1973 with the help of local and foreign donors, and its first destination was donated to Dr. Drago School and Girls College as a Jubilee Gift .Dr. Drago was awarded The Pakistan Medal (Pakistan Tamgha) in 1967 and then after his death Star of Excellence, (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), in 2002. Dr. Drago’s services rendered with the help of refugees, Treatment and prevention of major diseases, education and youth education were extensive.

His daughter Dr.Philomena Joseph MBBS, DGO (Gynecologist) described her father’s personal life as “He was a very gentle and kind person. He was the best father in the world. He never pressured us to read this or that. He never bothered about it, but when I saw him at a very young age giving people medicine and people got well, I thought I would become a doctor.

Dr. Philomena said that he was always ready to help and guide people, especially the poor and helpless. Because Dr. Drago had relationships with people from all walks of life, he was a family doctor of many large families in Mirpur Khas, so people respected him. He often used his influence to help the poor.

Everyone used to come to our house at night on camels from distant places because of the name of Dr. Drago, Dr. Drago always treated people with compassion and sincerity.

Dr.Philomena said that Dr. Drago’s wife, our mother, played a vital role in his humanitarian, social and welfare services. Ammi never let her domestic responsibilities interfere with his work.

Bishop Samson Shukardin of the Catholic Diocese of Hyderabad, expressing his views on the life of Dr. Drago, said that he was a very good Catholic Christian who served humanity, regardless of religion, color, race, language or caste.

He strived for the collective development of humanity, so he made the best use of his abilities, relationships and social status and influence to promote the education and training of the youth, religious harmony and the survival of humanity.

Well known journalist Akhtar Balouch writes in his column that according to Saleem Azad, senior journalist of Mirpur Khas, the citizens of Mirpur Khas wanted Dr. Drago’s burial to be in a place where they can write quotes and verses about his services instead of Christian cemetery.

On which his life and services are mentioned so that future generations may be aware of his services, but when his family decided that Dr. Sahib’s burial would be in Gora Cemetery in Karachi instead of Mirpur Khas, people were very disappointed.

Regarding why Dr. Sahib was buried in Karachi, Dr. Sahib’s nephew Tony Drago said that his wife Argentina said that the number of his relatives in Mirpur Khas is almost non-existent.

Therefore, she was adamant that Dr. Sahib should be buried in Karachi. And it happened. Dr. Sahib’s wife died about two years after Dr. Sahib’s death. Surprisingly, she insisted that she wanted to be buried in Mirpur Khas instead of Karachi.

The evening happens every day but the evening of Mirpur Khas is very special. The sun was slowly setting. I took permission from Dr. Drago’s family and left for my destination back to Karachi. There was a strangely familiar romantic state that had descended into my soul and was answering the questions of my thoughts.

Why Dr. Drago should leave his belongings and stay in this small but beautiful and special city. My driver took me to the railway station and felt my silence and asked,

Why are you writing about Dr. Drago’s life? ”I replied,” I am looking for the answer to this question, but the fragrance of Dr. Drago’s happy smile, sincerity and dignified personality can still be felt in the atmosphere of Mirpur. “Maybe it was the serene atmosphere that brought me here or the love of a true lover of humanity which made a great story of love for human beings. I am just looking for the answer to this question

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