The Pantagraph, Steve Smedley, Associated Press
NORMAL, Ill. — Drs. Anjuli and Nicholas Nayak have three sons.
"Our fourth child is our charity," Nicholas Nayak said.
The Nayaks are Twin City doctors known locally for Sneeze, Wheeze & Itch Associates, the Normal-based clinic that includes the medical practice of Anjuli, an allergist and immunologist, and a clinical research center involving both doctors.
But in two regions of their native India, the Nayaks are better known for helping to develop a hospital and an orphanage. A nursing school opened on the new fourth floor of the hospital earlier this month. The next projects are a school, medical clinic and a new building for the orphanage.
"Dr. Anjuli and Dr. Nick have been a cornerstone of what we are doing," said Leanna Cinquanta, the founder and director of Arvada, Colo.,-based TellAsia Ministries. The Nayaks have partnered with TellAsia on the orphanage as well as the future school, clinic and replacement orphanage building.
"We have been blessed by their leadership and mentoring support," Cinquanta said.
To the Nayaks, who grew up in poverty in India, the projects are about making a positive difference today.
"I can't eradicate poverty," Anjuli Nayak said in her clinic last week. "But little drops of water can make a mighty ocean."
The Nayaks declined to disclose how much money they have given to the projects. But Anjuli conceded it has been "a major part of our earnings to help people less fortunate." For five straight years she gave to the hospital any money that she earned from giving lectures.
Nicholas Nayak, 63, a native of Mumbai in west India, came to the United States with $50 in his pocket. Anjuli Nayak, 57, who is from Kanpur in north India on the North Gangetic Plain, recalled her family growing its own food.
"My father's entire salary was spent on his children's education," she said, explaining that going to school is not required in India. "I felt privileged to get an education. We had no electricity, so I'd sit under a street light at night to study."
The Nayaks relocated to the United States and built successful medical practices — Nicholas in emergency medicine and research and Anjuli in allergy/immunology and research. They met in 1978, married in 1979 and have reared three boys; two are doctors and one is studying to be a doctor.
In 1998, they formed the Nayak Foundation, a private foundation administered by the Nayak family, to fund projects related to health, spirituality, scholarships, education and preventive medicine. While the foundation has funded several projects over the years — including some in Bloomington-Normal — its primary work has been in India.
About 10 years ago, Dr. T. Lunkim, an Indian man whom they had met, asked whether they could help with construction of a hospital where people also could get spiritual care. The plan was to build it in Imphal, a city in Manipur, an impoverished area of east India with no medical facilities.
The Nayaks, who converted years ago to Christianity, liked the idea of medical care with spiritual support in a poor region, and supported the project. They sent money for bricks and mortar, equipment, ambulances and startup operations. Construction began on Imphal Christian Hospital in 2002 and it was complete in 2007, Anjuli Nayak said.
What began as a birthing hospital now is a full-service hospital with 110 employees.
"It's completely self-sufficient now," she said, adding the hospital gets government support. The hospital has been successful because it was needed and is well-run, so it has attracted doctors from throughout east India and patients from throughout the region.
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