Two students of Mymensingh Medical College Hospital (MMCH), on a cold winter evening in the 1980s, were wandering around the hospital's outdoors. There were no patients there at that time and the place was quiet.
With a quiet hour at hand, the two began reminiscing about the good times they had spent at the college. They were about to complete their bachelor's degree in a year. But leaving the place behind would not be easy. They wanted to do something meaningful. They wanted to create a bond with the place that would last a long time.
The two friends - Md Ataur Rahman Masum and - Ghous M Khan came from two different political ideologies so it was not easy to come up with an idea that both agreed upon. Eventually, they decided to do something for the wellbeing of the students at medical college.
They decided to form a club to help medical students with their academic studies. The club would serve as a platform for students to discuss their studies every week.
The next day they called a meeting at the library, invited other students over, and solicited their opinion. All the students present liked the idea and agreed to build the club.
It was named Medicine Club.
Forty years since its founding, the club is now present in 25 medical colleges and has 5,000 registered members and 2,000 volunteers.
Besides hosting clinical and preclinical classes and seminars for medical students, the activities of the club has expanded to include voluntary blood donation, blood grouping programmes and regular health check-ups for ordinary people. It also provides free medication and treatment to poor patients.
The club has a few programmes where patients are charged for the club's services but it is intended to raise funds for the club.
"I never expected that the club would continue for so long and leave such an impression on people," said Masum, the founding general secretary and an honorary lifetime member of Medicine Club.
Medicine Club started with the motto "learn and let others learn to serve humanity in the best possible manner". To this day, the club is driven by that motto.
A 25-year-old thalassemia patient, Sadia Afrin Nitu, has been a regular blood recipient from this club since 2014. Her brother is also a thalassemia patient and it was hard for them to find blood donors every two months. Later, her family got to know about Medicine Club and enlisted their names there.
"Since becoming a member of this club, I haven't faced any disappointment. The club's committee members change every year but they always keep track of the blood donors and receivers, along with the schedule. Sometimes they call and take updates, too. In case of an emergency, Medicine Club is the only reliable name that comes to mind," Nitu said, while speaking about how this club impacted her life.
Seven more medical colleges are soon going to be registered with the Medicine Club.
The club's monthly activities take place in the respective campuses but all the 25 universities frequently communicate with the central committee before taking any important decision.
In its four decades, the name "Medicine Club" has spread among many people. So when patients need special care and medical support they cannot afford on their own, they come here seeking help. Sometimes, professional doctors suggest they visit Medicine Club.
The committee of Medicine Club holds meetings for patients who need immediate help, and decides on actions based on the situation. In most cases, the club helps these people from the internal funds - raised from the registered members' and advisors' contributions.
Arranging fund raising programmes and making people aware of the club's activities have been the most crucial part of its journey. The club publishes posters, leaflets and souvenirs related to health, arranges cultural programmes, participates in different rallies.
"These promotions let people know about our existence and activities. We believe that the more people visit us, the more we can help. Luckily, we have never faced any problem due to student politics or any other factor. Everyone has helped us. This is a platform where everyone is treated equally and we only work for the wellbeing of human beings," said Nipun Kumar Sarker, the president of Medicine Club, MMC unit.
More than 10 lakh people have received treatment from the club till now. The club has 3,500 registered thalassemia patients and has provided 34,256 bags of blood to their registered and non-registered members. Around 10,437 patients have received medicines from the club free of charge.
Medicine Club has continued its work amid this pandemic and approximately 70,000 people have received its telemedicine services. It has donated 70 bags of plasma to patients, supported 700 health professionals with PPEs and donated Tk44 lakh to the ones in need.
This club is a place where advisors and members share a special bond and keep inspiring each other to do good for the society.
Taufique Jahan Maitry, an intern doctor, is an advisor of this club and has been a member of this club since his first year of medical college.
"This is a place where we share things - from academic knowledge to personal experiences. This club is more like our home where a bunch of good-hearted people work to grow with each other," Taufique said.