It’s nearing the end of the road!
On Thursday, April 26, noted residents of Grand Bahama, Dr. Malik Kavala and his wife will stage the final Senior Citizens Luncheon under their jurisdiction.
Nearly 37 years ago, Dr. Malik Kavala traveled with his wife Nalini over 8,900 miles from India to The Bahamas to serve as the general physician in North Andros for two and a half years.
The journey although long, has proven to be both enriching and rewarding, according to Dr. Kavala, as he has been able to help countless patients improve their health and witnessed firsthand the evolution of this archipelagic nation and its people through his work, medical and personal relationships.
Relocating from Andros to Grand Bahama in 1984, Dr. Kavala was posted at the Eight Mile Rock Community Clinic, Martin Town. Eight Mile Rock in the largest settlement not only on the island, but within the entire country.
This posting provided Dr. and Mrs. Kavala the opportunity to become well acquainted with all of the many families residing throughout the settlement and to develop genuine friendships with several major contributors to society, some who have transitioned into eternity, such as the late Rev. Dr. Ralph Russell, Wilfred Butler, Thomas Smith and Henry Johnson.
Known as a compassionate man, who always believed in remaining on the cutting-edge of new developments in medicine, and also a faithful and loving husband and father, Dr. Kavala said he has been blessed beyond measure by the good natured people of Eight Mile Rock whose cultural heritage can be traced to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados as well as the United States of America, Canada and England.
The situation was ripe for something special.
Bearing the distinction of being the lone and longest-serving general physician at the Eight Mile Rock Community Clinic for 15 years, Dr. Kavala developed an extended outreach. With the assistance of registered nurses working under his supervision throughout the settlement, Dr. Kavala was able to compile a listing of senior citizens’ names and, supported by Mrs. Kavala, started the process of arranging and delivering fruit baskets to them, as a token of love. That gesture soon gave way to a philanthropic idea that evolved into the very first Senior Citizens’ Luncheon.
Ultimately, aware of the reality that time is fleeting and more often than not, senior citizens tend to be overlooked, Dr. and Mrs. Kavala decided to give back to a community through treating 100 senior citizens to a scrumptious yet health-conscious meal at St. Stephen’s Anglican Parish Hall, Bartlett Hill on an annual basis.
The luncheon which originally began in the month of November around Thanksgiving, provided an opportunity for the senior citizens of the area to fellowship with friends and family they had not seen is years, due to a lack of transportation and/or declining health.
Retiring from the Public Health Services in 1998, Dr. and Mrs. Kavala, who along with their children had become cherished members of the community, were faced with a myriad of questions that included:
“Where do we go from here?”
“Who will look out for the people now?”
Subsequently, the doctor and his family interacted with government officials and businessmen and devised a continuation plan to the benefit of the senior citizens of the settlement he and his family came to love dearly, Eight Mile Rock, for the last three decades.
Never enchanted by the “bright lights” of the City of Freeport, the aforementioned businessmen and their families along with Government leaders on either side of the political divide put their “thinking caps” on and devised a plan of action that would prove beneficial not only for the Kavala Family but the Eight Mile Rock community and the precious pearls, who were constantly praying and thanking God for blessing them with a physician and his wife, who truly cared about them and demonstrated love in more ways than one over the past three decades.
(End of part one of series)