I really need to apologize. When I was planing on coming out to India, it was my intent to try and 'blog daily so that people could keep up to date with what is going on. Unfortunately there is just so much going on, so much that I'm having to do, and the joys of being without the internet for days at a time, which have made blogging pretty difficult. I need to get used to offline blogging, to the update the blog when I get the net connection back. However, there's something about my wordpress blog entry page that just allows my fingers to dance, whereas writing a blog in StarOffice writer or vi just doesn't feel right!
I've been in India now since the 25th March, and I've yet to really have a rest. I hit the ground running with preparations for the first of two summer parties that Compassion Care (the charity I'm with) and Mercy Homes (an Indian Charity we're partnered with) are running.
Mercy Homes is a charity which promotes the concept of allowing orphans to be brought up it a family environment, rather than a impersonal orphanage. The Mercy Homes project is really taking off here in India, with new homes opening every month and more and more children getting the benefits of a loving family environment.
After the success of the Christmas Party, (the first time I came out to India,) Compassion Care decided to use a similar format as a platforrm for teaching their new 'Parenting and Health' course to the Mercy Home parents. It's based on a WHO course, and provides basic teaching on medical care and good parenting. On completion of the course, the parents were given a medical box which contained basic medicines which would allow them to treat simple medical ailments at home, without the costs of having to visit a private doctor. In a lovely twist of fate, it was my old secondary school, St. Peter's, Solihull, that raised the money to pay for these medical boxes. Thanks so much guys!
As for the camp, we had an absolutely awesome time with the children. They were a bit more reserved than the Christmas camp to begin with, yetafter a couple of icebreakers it felt like we were peeling them off the walls and ceilings - they had so much energy. Everything we did they really enjoyed and their enthusiasm was infectious.
Unfortunately, during a bit of a mini-disco on the second night, I noticed that one of the boys was not joining in. He complained initally about ear ache, and when I moved him to a quiet room to check him out he appeared to be limping. I spotted that his right foot was a little swollen around the ankle, so got Josh Kay, one of the team from Nottingham, for his opinion. Josh was a trained physiotherapist, so an invaulable member of the team - and within minutes we were taking the boy to the local hospital to check out this injury.
I was pleasantly suprised by the India hospital we went to. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the place was super efficient. When we arrived, Dr. Mary went to register the lad, whilst I waited with him. Thirty seconds later I was in casualty with the boy and getting him checked out, whilst Dr. Mary was still at the reception desk. We were able to get him an X-ray (for about 150Rs.) and after a little confirmation with the orthopedic doctor, decided that it didn't appear to be a fracture, but possibly just a tiny chip.
Having taken this lad to the hospital and drawn attention to the ankle, we also noticed that there appeared to be an infected cut on the same ankle. He told us that he'd done this when he'd been back at home with his mother (the majority of people in the Mercy Homes are semi-orphaned) and was working with a machete and had cut himself. Being only 12 years old, it was quite a shocking story - but that is the way of the fishing community he belonged to. The Doctor was then able to apply some iodine solution to the leg, and when we returned the day after, the swelling had reduced, indicating the problem was the infecton, rather than the chipped bone (which could have been caused by the machete cut).
On our way back to the camp, we collected medication for three other people who'd reported medical problems to Dr. Cat whilst we'd been at the hospital. Since the Mercy Home parents were now not just aware, but had seen for themselves that Compassion Care were able to provide the medical care and advice that was necessary, they started to trust us with their own medical problems. Lots of Indians still goto traditional herbal remedies and ayurvedic medicines. It was great to have people not just learn about the methods we were promoting, but new bonds of trust were being formed, which was immensely satisfying.
The camp ended on Saturday, and we had a 8 hour journey back home, interrupted for an hour by a lovely swim in the Indian Sea at Cottam. The water temparature was beautiful, and we caught some good waves. It was a nice relaxing end to what had been a pretty tough few days. (I've not mentioned the basic accomodation, the 'half'-a- cockroach in my bed, the cockroaches and ants over my bed whilst I was sleeping, and the strong smel of sulphur from the dam - aswell as it's corroding effects on the sink and the tiles in the bathroom). It was a humbling and challenging experience.
For the few days following the camp, we visited a few of the local people who needed Josh's physiotherapy expertise, and have designed a course of exercies for a local boy suffering from cerebral palsy. He was one of the main reasons why I came back out, and it's great to see that despite the severity of his illness, Josh believes that he will, with time and exercise, be able to walk again. It is purely the lack of exercise than a severe symptoms that has thus far prevented improvement in his condition. I'll hopefully be able to begin the construction of a ramp from his house down to the road over the next two weeks. It's great that something so simple is going to make such a difference - one child at a time.