At 38 years old, Kalu Lal Meena has managed to earn the respect of both his community and JJVS through his work as a Guni. His father was also a traditional healer, and while he died when Kalu was very young, he managed to pass on extensive knowledge and skills that Kalu uses to this day. Kalu always observed his father as he treated his patients and was often tasked with fetching medicinal plants for him. As he grew older, he was encouraged by his mother, members of his community and older traditional healers to pursue healing as a career. Seeing the need for health care in his village and the lack of doctors and income to pay for treatments, Kalu decided to commit to becoming a healer in order to aid his village. Soon he became very well known, and people would seek him out in order to receive treatment for various ailments. Today, Kalu helps and treats anyone who comes to him regardless of their ability to pay, and if the patient insists on paying he never accepts a payment greater than 50 rupees (less than $1 US).
As a leader and healer in his community, Kalu has noticed recurring health problems in his patients. Knee pain is very common in men who perform labor-intensive work, as well as women who have to walk long distances and take care of multiple children. This knee damage is exacerbated by the way many people in India tend to sit when eating food or relaxing- a cross legged position that is extremely harsh on the ankles and knees. Other prevalent health problems that Kalu has noticed in his community are diabetes and arthritis. His insights on rural health issues are very important for future health campaigns and development projects that specifically target the needs of villagers.
Since joining JJVS, Kalu has been able to expand his skill set and become trained in both myotherapy and panchkarma. He is currently training healers in myotherapy, but thinks that it is equally important to pass on humility and good work ethic to his students. He says that in order to maintain a good reputation in the community, a healer must always remain focused on his work and provide optimal treatment to his patients.
While JJVS has helped Kalu become a successful Guni, he has identified many challenges that he and other traditional healers need to overcome. For example, he must constantly prove himself to allopathic doctors who see Gunis as competition. Many times doctors do not understand or even attempt to understand traditional medicine, and they are skeptical of his knowledge and expertise to the point of disrespect. Despite this, Kalu says he will continue to improve his name and his practice, taking pride in his service to those who would otherwise not have the means to receive any form of health treatment.