Pre Medical Yatra-Community Engagement/Education

 

In line with prior years, AarogyaSeva was again part of 2016 Medical Yatra organised by/in association with  AIPNO, Rotary Club of Northern Ohio, Rotary Club of Dharampur and Gram Seva Trust. This year it was held in Gujarat.
To further broaden the volunteer experience of the Medical Yatra they organised a 2 day Community Engagement and Education program.   We were welcomed and thanked by the local schools with speeches and presentations, and song and dance.  We had a tour of the Gram Seva Trust Hospital, we participated in “Swachh Bharat” which was an initiative to clean up local community and reduce littering. We also visited local communities touring their water filtration facility, local diary collection facility/co-op and also visited the installed toilets which were made possible through Gram Seva Trust and the Rotary Club of Dharampur.
The Gram Seva Trust was established by husband and wife team Dr Harsha and Ashwin Shah in 1994 starting as a 30 bed hospital with 5 staff has now grown to 80 bed facility with 100 staff and includes running of many community project which aims to assist women, children and the elderly including the establishment of libraries, boarding facilities for children, mobile clinics, and education on health, nutrition and hygiene.  More on Gram Seva Trust can be found: http://www.gramseva.org/
The local diary facility we visited has become its’ own social enterprise and is a co-op for the local community. The sale of the the milk has made it possible for the community to save and fund additional local initiatives such as heifer micro-lending program.  The heifer are purchased via a loan and once the cow produces milk and thus an income the loan is repaid.  The villager are then able to have a continuous sustainable income going forward for their families.  Given it’s success this co-op will be used as model for nearby villages.
Those of us from more developed countries take for granted our access to toilets. We were initially a little puzzled by our tour of several villages just to see the constructed toilets however this is actually a very important initiative for the villages as we were told stories of women being raped when they ventured out for the bathroom alone. Prior to the construction of toilets, the women would meet up as a group to go to a secluded spot in the field to do their business.

 

While we were there Gram Seva Trust Hospital they had a children’s education fair. Just like at a fete/fair there was a jumping castle, giant snakes and ladders, ball throwing games, hola hoops etc where the children are taught about health topics whilst having fun.

 

By far my favourite community initiative was the sanitary napkins women empowerment project. This is run by the women for the women and provides improved health and education as well reducing the stigma around menstruation.   The sanitary napkins are made by hand from cotton and wood pulp which importantly are also biodegradable. These are then sold by women to women in their local villages at much lower cost to that which are mass produced and made from plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. This facility was based within the Gram Seva Trust Hospital and with this success they are looking to expand and replicate this to up to 15 facilities.

Key Takeaways

  • it is together that we are able to make a bigger difference
  • be grateful for running water, toilets and waste collection services
  • access to health and education and also knowledge of these are the biggest barriers to progress

There will be more on the actual Medical Yatra in the coming days.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AarogyaSeva and AarogyaSeva does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
To get in touch with the author or to join our team write to us at – Volunteer@aarogyaseva.org

 

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