Tuesday, April 25, 2006

visit to vellore

As I mentioned in a previous post I was able to make a trip to Christian Medical College(CMC), Vellore recently. This is a famous hospital and nmedical school in Tamil Nadhu started by a missionary doctor (Ida Scudder) over 100years ago. It has always had a vision to minister to the poor and suffering and is renowned both in India and internationally for it's excellence in medicine and education but also it's service to the community. Patients still travel from long distances to recieve treatment. As an illustration, I attended an oncology round where 4 out of 16 patients were from Tamil Nadh and another 4 from neighbouring states. The remainder were from distant places like West Bengal, Sikkim, Banglagesh, Assam, Mizoram and Bihar. (you might want an atlas to check these out!)
Palliative care services started 3 years ago and the small department is led by Dr Reena George. The picture shows the rest of the team, and my thanks for their warm welcome. Already there is an active inpatient and outpatient service with home care to the surrounding villages 3 times a week. An exciting new development is the building of a hospice and education unit a few km away. You can see the contruction work in the photo, with an expected opening date of August 2006. We had some great discussions as to the development of CMC as an educational hub for palliative care. It is well placed to offer an excellent and credible training base that can reach many areas where palliative care is in it's infancy. I am delighted to say we have agreed a joint project to support these developments and I will be dicussing these plans with the Cairdeas Trustees soon. As ever issues of practicalities and finance come into the equation but am optomistic that we will be able to proceed.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Easter Greetings

Easter in India is very different. No daffodils or spring lamb or familiar church traditions. Especially as the Hindu New Year coincded with Good Friday. It was for me a chance to stop for a brief monent and consider the true meaning of life and salvation. I missed being able to be at church but was able to read the Easter story sitting on a beach overlooking the Indian ocean and watch the sunrise over the Kerala backwaters. Swimming at dawn, I was remembering that ancient dawn when Mary found the stone rolled away and the truth of Christ's resurrection began to be made known. What an amazing moment. My sister, Jan and her husband Graham arrived on Easter Sunday complete with M@S hotcross buns and chocolate eggs for the teams here. They are spending 2 weeks here and seem to be enjoying every moment.
I hope you all had a special time in whatever way you celebrate and sense the hope of a new spring and new life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ASHA slum project

I have had the privilege of visiting this project in Delhi on several occaisions and thought you might like to hear more. It is a community empowerment and development project bringing 'hope to those who need it most' Each Slum Colony starts a programme of empowerment and primary health care, education and community development with training and support from the ASHA society. Over the past 15 years the project has grown to include >250,000 people and is a resounding success. Figures for child health, immunisation, family planning, TB control, school attendance and maternal health are well above the national average for India - never mind the usual picture in a city slum. ASHA is based on sharing the love of Christ in action and as such shares much in common with Cairdeas. Dr Kieran Martin, the founder was challenged to support those who have so little future and hope and has been awarded the Padmashree for her services to the poor. Issue of chronic disease such as mental health and diabetes are now being addressed and we hope to work together on a palliative care needs assessment next year. Here are some photos that illustrate the environment and the sense of hope. They were taken on my most recent visit last week. The wee baby is being held with her road to health chart - a WHO method of monitoring child health. The water pump is one of 50 for a population of 50,000 - previuos to ASHA's support there were only 5!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

glimpses of india

I thought I would post a few pictures to give you a feel of life in India - just some of my observations about this facinating country. In fact, I will only give you some glimpses of Kerala this post. India is home to one of the oldest civilisations and more than 1 billion people. It is also a very young country, both in its population and it's recent independance. Kerala is a socialst state (the only state previously to democratically elect a communist government) with high literacy and an active civil society. It's language is Malayallam and is home to 35 milion people squeezed into a small land mass. It has a range of mountains (Western Ghats ), a narrow strip of land then the Indian Ocean. Known as 'Gods Own Country' the name Kerala means 'land of coconuts'. The backwaters region is unique and beautiful as seen by the first photos. Elephants might be seen in the game reserves, temple 2 festivals or even the street! Kids attend school smartly dressed - even if the transport is crowded. Food is light, tasty and unlike any 'Indian' takeaway you have tasted. Here is masala dosa - one of my favourite breakfasts. Lfe is always colourful, often frustrating, run on IST (Indian stretchable time) and invarably surrounded by warmth and friendlieness. Close your eyes and imagine hot moist air, spinning fans, scents of jasmine and spices, endless coconut palms, sunset over the Indian Ocean, tooting horns, crazy traffic, a cow causing a traffic jam, no personal space, ready laughter, bustling cities, vibrant colours of saris and the smile of a beautiful woman, and you have a glimpse of where I am. Come and see for yourself sometime!!