Friday, 10 March 2017

8th March ~ International Women's day celebration

We were asked by the high school teacher 2 days earlier if we could talk to the kids for a few minutes in kannada on the occasion of International Women's day. Not because we've achieved something great that can inspire them but because it would be from someone new for them :D 
Terese agreed to help me with the content while I agreed to talk in kannada. So we said yes and that's the last we saw of him. I don't know where he disappeared. So on 7th we spoke to that sweet teacher Sumithra who helped us schedule the event on 8th. She also suggested that we highlight a few points regarding personal hygiene, menstruation, teenage pregnancy etc.  

After a lot of web search and thinking till 8th noon, we had a small talk ready where I narrated the story of Malala Yousafzia to tell them how she had to fight for the basic right to education. And to let them know that this is just one of the rights that the women in some of the countries including ours are denied or deprived of.
We asked them to involve both the girls and the boys in the event because I remember what Emma Watson said in her inspiring UN speech campaigning for #HeforShe, "How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?" 
We ended the talk by taking an oath I made in kannada, along with all the kids who participated. 
The translation being, 
"I'm my own master from today. I can achieve any goal I wish. I won't let anyone tell me that I can't do something. I will never discriminate people with respect to gender. If and when I come across gender discrimination, I will try my best to take action against it instead of just witnessing it". 

After which Sumithra ma'am gave an inspiring talk about the other rights that the girls have to be aware of, about female foeticide etc.  
I learnt a few things from her speech. Speeches are inspiring and effective when they are specific. She had just 3-4 points, but she made sure those points reached their mind clearly by giving them tangible day to day examples .    
The school here has lovely teachers who make the children share responsibilities and provide opportunities equally thus eliminating gender stereotypes. 

6th March ~ Uppit day

We made uppit using the induction stove. The only thing worth mentioning that day :P

Otherwise this is how we were all day!

5th March ~ The Model PHC

As told, we got ready that morning in time thanks to the sweet teacher who rescued our dosa dough by making dosas at her home for us and I went to Gumballi while Terese stayed at the OPD in VGKK.
In the bus to Gumballi, I had this different feeling of happiness. It felt like my first small adventure as a doctor. So, the PHC in Gumballi, to be precise in Uppinamole, is a NABH accredited 24X7 PHC, a model PHC, one of the many such PHCs started by Karuna Trust all over the country in association with VGKK.
I entered into the doctor’s chamber, Dr. Ramprasad, and he graciously let me take a seat and help him see the patients waiting. After a while he took off and let me experience the crowd that he probably treats everyday while hearing the drilling of teeth from the next door. Yes, there is a dental OPD as well! Next to which a new born was lying with her tired mother. She was brought for delivery that morning by an ASHA worker. Time flew as I tried my best to treat the patients and soon was having chapathis at the fine canteen there. 
 What makes this PHC so different and better compared to a regular PHC is that it provides services that are not termed Primary health care in the conventional sense. Every wedneday patients are admitted to the first floor who suffer from cataract and get operated on Thursday and reach their homes with a new sight on Friday! Just like how its done at KR hospital, Mysore which is by the way a tertiary care hospital. Heard that they will be tying up with a similar great initiative Aravind eye hospitals which will only make things better here.  
Chronic illnesses which require regular filling of drugs like epilepsy, mental illnesses, non-communicable diseases like Diabetes and Hypertension are taken care of, too. Different specialists come on various days of the week like a specialist for Diabetes on Wednesdays and ENT surgeon some other day.
 The idea of making and running such a successful PHC and catering to the many once unreached people thrilled me. It’s a Public-private parternship initiaitive which according to me is one of the reasons for its efficiency.       

I was taken back in the jeep by the driver Suresh along with the amazing headmaster who showed us stars previously. He told me stories all along the ride back to VGKK which made me search and read about the work of VGKK and Karuna Trust in 
 Community Planning and Monitoring of Health Services - Karnataka Experience.

4th March ~ Once a hut.

We had goosebumps on climbing the rocks to have a look at a tiny hut measuring around 3X3 mt in which Dr. Sudarshan Hanumappa first put up his clinic which later lead to the establishment of VGKK. 

That day we were also excited to go into the forest to reach the tribal people in the jeep called the mobile unit which works 3 days every week. The jeep had almost all basic medicines we might require in handy lockers. But the trip got cancelled because of the program that was being arranged in the school auditorium. It was arranged for felicitating 2 people in the tribal community who actually worked for their community. One of them was a student of the same school who saved up a lakh and gave it as scholarship to the students who earned it by writing good essays about Swamy Vivekananda. What caught my attention was the talk by the other lady, Mrs. Madamma, simple yet appealing. She just asked the kids to never stop learning and not bother about what the society thinks or says and serve the community. Later we had a satisfying meal proved by how much sleepy we got at the OPD that afternoon.
The hospital pharmacy was a real surprise as they had all the drugs that we thought we might need. And a huge emergency kit hanging in the OPD. The only ones that I thought were missing were injectable anti-epileptic drugs. So that afternoon passed by treating a few people who came to the OPD.

Soon we realised we weren’t getting any physical exercise and so went on a nice evening walk and on returning we were told that one of us would have to go to the PHC in Gumballi the next day. 

3rd march ~ New stars

This was the day we had to leave to Biligirirangan hills in short BR hills as it was the option me and my friend Terese chose in instead of PKTB. I chose this inspite of people trying to talk us out of the idea only because this looked like an opportunity to see what the rest of my life might be like since I always have thought that my interest lies in public health.

So we packed up all that we’d listed including an induction stove based on the funny starving stories we'd already heard from our friends and started on the 3rd morning. Changed 2 buses via Santhemarali and Yellandur and reached the hills by 2:30pm. The first thing I noticed was how quiet and calm the environment here is. We were welcomed by the staff in VGKK (Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra) which is a huge campus standing in the middle of the forest. We were told in detail about VGKK, what it does, and what activities we can take part in, by the coordinator Arun. He made sure we had everything we needed through Murthy. Murthy is the guy who solves everyone's problems in the campus we figured out. That night ended with a nutritious meal at the dinning hall with all the school kids and by watching the lovely Ursa major constellation shown by the headmaster Ramachari.