Sunday, December 24, 2006


Just a quick comment about comments!! It is brilliant to hear your thoughts but please be aware that I don't get your email ID when you post a comment. So if you would like a reply - please include your email ID. I would love to respond. Thanks for reading the BLOG and being interested in Cairdeas.

Christmas greetings

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and God's richest blessings for 2007. Christmas celebrations come early in Vellore with parties galore. There is also the habit of middle of the night carol singing! I was privileged to sing in the college carol service which was very moving - and a bit panicky as we were short of practice. Hamilton, our team chaplain was the conductor, and did a great job. The picture shows him with me and Grace and Fellina. Hope you like the sari! I have been eating lots of chicken biryani - the traditional Christmas fare - as well as the many sweets on offer. These are gulab jamen - and dripping with condensed milk and sygar syrup!! We are looking forward to a busy start to the new year. The hospice will admit the first patients around the second week in January. there is still much to be done but it is exciting. Also we have plans to do some nurse training in the education unit and will be joined by Judith Smith and Ismay Palmer from the UK. The first 1 year Fellowship in palliative care for postgraduate doctors in India has been confirmed and will start in March. Adverts have gone out and we are busy with the curriculum. The time seems to be flying with so many challenges and opportunities. I feel very much part of the team here and so glad that Cairdeas can be involved in this way. Our vision is to see the growth of palliative care in the developing world. Supporting raining programmes in Vellore can have a major impact and my thanks to all of you who are supporting and interested. I was struck again by the need in this country when I met a girl of only 25 who had travelled from Nepal to Hyderabad to get help for her cancer. On the way (several days by train) she was abandoned by her husband who took all their money scraped together for treatment, leaving her with a 4 month old child and 2 other children at home. The need is so great but at least this girl was cared for by people with expertise and compassion. At this time of year when we enjoy the celebrations and the gifts and the fun - spare a thought for those far and near who are vulnerable and hurting this Christmas. It is a time of hope when we remember the promise of that first Christmas - a Saviour who would bring peace on earth and goodwill towards men. Thank you again for all you support - I will keep you in touch with what the New Year brings!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Good morning from a warm, clear day in Christian Medical College, Vellore. This hospital, and it's medical college, is now famous across the world with a reputation for excellence in clinical care, research and education as well as a commitment to serve the needy and vulnerable. Over one hundred years ago, a dynamic and resourceful young woman was challenged by the needs of the people of India - especially women. Ida Scudder started on a long journey to make a difference that took her through medical training, many obstacles and led to the establishment of Christian Medical College Vellore - one of the first centres for the training of women doctors in India. Over the ensuing years much has been achieved here - including seminal leprosy research and surgical developments. It is now a 2000 bed multispeciality hospital with undergraduate and postgraduate training. It services the community around Vellore in Tamil Nadu with primary, secondary care and community programmes. It also has patients coming from all over India including some nearby countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal. 70% of patients travel long distances - maybe several days on the train. The palliative care team had been in place for 31/2 years and is based within the main hospital. However, very soon the first patients will come to the new in-patient hospice. We are also busy planning for the new education unit which is part of the hospice building. the main role of Cairdeas is to support the clinical team and help with the development of the education strategy. It is an exciting challenge and I will tell you more in subsequent posts. The photos show the chapel at CMC medical college which is an oasis of calm and spiritual refreshment. The other picture was taken on the way to a rural hospital clinic - a typical and beautiful view of paddy fields. My address here is; Palliative Care Unit, Christian Medical College, Vellore 632004, Tamil Nadu, India.