Life in Orissa - Jo tells all!
26th September 2012
Joseph moves to Orissa...
It was Nov 2011 when I started work at the Love the One children's clinic in Orissa. The area where the clinic is situated is in a remote forestry area, poverty stricken, with little amenities and known rebel problems, so moving there felt a bit scary for me. To travel to Orissa was a 9hr journey from my place in Andhra Pradesh. After AP we then crossed a state called Chhattisgarh which is also one of the poorer states in India. After reaching Chhattisgarh we then had to travel for a further 3 hours on very poor bumpy roads, cross the river and then travel by motorbike to our destination.
Reaching there was a happy day for me and it was good to be part of the Love the One team, Mary and Cat and the team were waiting excitedly for me to come!
How did I find myself working in rural Orissa?
I had completed my postgraduate MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) and was in search of a job in an organisation which was really helpful for the poor and especially for the children, rather than looking for a job which would only benefit me financially. One day I met Mary and Cat, the Directors of Love the One, who shared about the work they were doing for the children in Orissa.
I applied for the job and was succesful in joining as PROJECT DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
My first impressions of rural Orissa...
At first, I was so shocked to see the poverty and conditions the villagers were living in. I had come from a middle class background and yet I did not know how my people were suffering so badly in other areas of my own country. On a positive note it was so good to see the work at the new children’s clinic was going really well and I enjoyed it so much. Every day we used to see 20 to 40 children come to the clinic with different sicknesses. Many people in our community in Orissa believe strongly in black magic and there had been very little other health care. After Love the One clinic started, so many children were treated and become better, so more and more people heard about this and started also coming to clinic to have correct treatment for their children, all provided free of cost. We have seen many children now living who were literally saved from death and the families were so happy.
Access to health care in India differs from the city and rural areas...
Those of us who live in the city have access to many hospitals and doctors who treat people well. In Orissa it is very hard for rural communities to access any health care and health beliefs are such that people do not understand how to keep in good health. Many families were coming to the Love the One clinic and it was so great to see as previously many many children were dying from causes such as malaria and typhoid, chest infections and diarrhoea, and now they were surviving! We could share so many stories of how we saw children lying semi-conscious come back to full health again.We also got to know the families well and enjoyed visiting them in their houses and putting on fun camps for them to come and play and be happy, despite their difficult circumstances. As I worked with Love the One I was always encouraged to share with the families about the medical treatment that the children needed, especially if the people did not understand and wanted to use black magic. We shared with the parents how valuable and precious their child’s life was and encouraged them to care for them.
I feel so encouraged to work with Love the One, because the founding doctors have left their jobs and come all the way from UK to come to India and are doing an awesome work in developing India’s rural health care that is currently lacking in so many areas. As an Indian I really respect their work and love being a part of it. Sadly at the moment we have had to move out of Orissa temporarily due to the dangerous security issues in the district we were working in. It was so sad for us all as we had to shut the clinic knowing that the children really needed the services provided there. As Mother Teresa said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
"If we are not prepared to go and help, why should we expect others to go?"
Yes I am fully aware that working in places such as Orissa can be dangerous for us, as it is for the villagers themselves living there. But as Indians we need to go and work in those kind of places. If we are not prepared to go and help, why should we expect others to go?Why should some people in India have access to all they need, and many others are born into poverty and die in need. Is it a mistake to born in a poor family? Who is going to answer these answerless questions?
Lets all be encouraged to spread the news about these poor children and be prepared to do what we can to help. We are so looking forward to being able to go back soon to Orissa, the state that we love!
Project Development Manager for Love the One
A 'busman's holiday' for Dr Anne!
23rd June 2011
Anne, a paediatrician from the UK and a good friend of Cat and Mary travelled out in June to experience life in Podia... here's what she thought of her trip!
“In June I was fortunate enough to get to travel out to India and catch up with Cat and Mary in Podia. It was an amazing trip and I was amazed to see how much they have done in such a short time. When I first arrived we had a holiday so I could acclimatise and while we waited for the fantastic medical students (Jo and Jenny) to arrive! It was so hot, but Cat and Mary reassured me it was cooling down!!!
The journey from Hyderabad to Podia was spectacular and fun, we encountered Indian trains and then a long bumpy car journey before jumping into a small wooden boat to cross the river. The boat trip was interesting and I was amazed how many people and motorbikes could squeeze onto a small boat! Apparently when it starts to fill with water that is normal! After another short drive we arrived in Podia itself.
In Podia I got to see first-hand the beautiful sheep shed clinic and the shiny toilet block! I saw patients come and go with smiles on their faces when they realised it wasn’t that scary and they even got a toy. And I even had the privilege of seeing the first inpatient who was too sick to go home the same day, but thankfully with the correct care and medicine he went home a couple of days later.
I had an opportunity to walk through Podia itself. It is a very rural place with poor housing and extreme poverty, child death is common and there are lots of public health issues like rubbish, poor sanitation and standing water which leads to the large number of cases of infection including malaria.
As part of the trip I was also able to go to some of the other children’s centres and help with some screening medicals to identify needs and medical issues. It was a great chance to meet local people and to see the difference that Love The One is making.
In the time I was in Podia word was spreading quickly and every day there were more patients needing to be seen.
Everywhere we went we were met with an amazing Indian welcome and brilliant hospitality. The food was awesome and thank goodness they made a milder curry version for the visitors in most places!
Thank you so much to all my new friends in India for looking after me, I can’t wait to come out and visit again!”
News from Dr Jenny!
1st September 2010
Dr Jenny writes
So far I have spent the summer months in the mountains of southern Tamil Nadu sharing my back garden with peacocks, goats and the odd lone elephant. I have been working in a rural 60 bed hospital; Bethany Medical Centre, which is run by the Tribal Welfare Trust. This trust is an indigenous Indian charity which aims to cater for the needs of the surrounding tribal communities in the form of medical care, education, community outreach and spiritual welfare.
Part of my role there, as a paediatric registrar for Love the One, has been to develop the paediatric services. Daily I will do a ward round with the other doctors present, seeing all the children on the women and children’s ward and then progress to do the postnatal ward round in the maternity ward. Newborn education is something that I have been focussing on following on from our June teaching course. The course was well received, and I aim to implement regular hospital sessions to refresh everyone’s memory! Along with this course I have been writing protocols addressing the common newborn conditions and how to manage them, so hopefully by the end of my time here they will have a folder of useful information for them to refer to as these situations arise.
Just down the road but over the border into Kerala is the Tribal Mission school, this primarily caters for children from tribal families, next to it lies the children’s hostel which is a boarding house for children who live in remote villages and find it difficult therefore, to access education. Dr Peter Friend (a GP) and myself have been visiting the hostel and doing health checks on the children and have had opportunities to talk and share with the children, which has been an incredibly humbling experience.
Every week Peter and I visited a local village along with Bethany nurses and are in the process of defining a model for a community health clinic, primarily aimed at children. This is a slower process than anticipated as it takes time and patience to trial out different ways of working to see which is the most efficient but also most preferred by the community it serves.
I have whooped with joy as a sick sad child goes home smiling and well or a boy can simply hear again because he now has batteries for his hearing aid!
Ben - August 2009
15th September 2009
"It's been a wonderful 4 weeks in Thrissur with the Love the One team, and Mercy Homes. I really wanted to get a taste of working in India, as it's a country that fascinates me and this trip provided the opportunity to experience the work that Love the One are doing. We visited Mercy Homes to treat children, took a trip to a Tribal Hospital and visited the land that will house the new, exciting, Kidz Haven project. It was a joy to visit the children in the Mercy Homes and I was often moved by many of their harrowing stories. Despite the children’s pasts there was a happy, family atmosphere in the homes and I loved playing cricket with the boys. The trip gave me an insight into the nature of this type of work, the fulfilling highs, as well as the difficulties of working in a developing country and different culture.
Visiting family homes has been a particular highlight. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and the hospitality was amazing, laying on copious amounts of food and drinks. We were even treated to a dancing and singing show at Amisha's and Amitha's home. People also allowed me to practice my (very) basic medical skills, under Dr Cat’s and Dr Mary’s supervision, which was a great experience as a medical student.
After a couple a trips traveling around India on the backpacker trail, I thought I had a fairly good idea about the country. I was wrong. I have learnt so much about this nation the last 4 weeks. I have encountered lots of shocking data and personal testimonies highlighting the great basic, medical and social problems the country faces. On the other hand it has been inspirational to see the difference organisations such as Love the One and Mercy Homes are making. Lives are being changed daily. Individuals are changing their surroundings by demonstrating and extending love and care to others. Organisations are daring to dream big into the far corners of the nation. It is my prayer that this work continues and that in God's hand India can blossom."