News from India
The health clinic gives results
Today I had a telephone conversation with the principal Sofia. She told that they have seen great results after we started the health clinic at school.
Twice we have had a healthcare team from Norway with nurses, to work on the healthcare project. A system has been made, where all the students have got their own healthcard, and everybody are being checked.
This system is now working very well. All the students are being checked twice a year.
We have also furnished a separate health room, where we have a doctor several times a month, who makes the necessary health checkup for children. After the children were vaccinated and after that they started to get vitamins in breakfast, we have seen a significant improvement in children's health. Some of the students have got big change in their lives. From not being able to go to school because of very bad health condition, they have started to go to school again. Many parents have given feedback on how important this have been for their children. A good health is essential for optimal learning.
A world different from ours
None of the 9 team members of David, knew what lay ahead of them when they headed for India, Saturday 28th of September 2013.
Our encounter with the indian traffic culture was a shocking experience. It was chaos on the roads, completely free of traffic rules. All means of transportation from bicycles with a cart, rickshaws, horses and carriages, cars and old ramshackle trucks fought for space. “Honk your horn”, was the overall main important traffic rule. Any kind of gap in traffic was exploited in a snap. I am happy to have survived our many journeys on the road, and doubt that I will accuse my husband of being hasty in traffic any more ....
At the slumschool
To visit the slum school in Jammu was a fantastic experience. Students performed various cultural performances for us with great zeal and enthusiasm, using colorful costumes. The eagerness and joy the schoolchildren showed because of our visitation, was very touching. The opening of the orphanage, reside12 girls aged 6-14 years, was an emotional experience.
During two days we conducted a medical examination of all schoolchildren in the slum school. The medical examination was in collaboration with Indian health professionals and teachers at the school. The health checkup started in February - 2013 for some of the children. Some of the children had a low body weight. This is primarily because of malnutrition and intestinal worms. They received medication, but they also needed nutritious food. A cup of milk, an egg and multivitamins for breakfast every day, according to the Indian doctor, will help improve the children's health significantly. Currently the schoolchildren get lunch every day, and breakfast 2-3 days a week. More sponsors are needed to give the children breakfast every day.
Impressions we never forget!
I doubt that our perspective of life could ever be the same as before we traveled to India. Nothing could prepare us for the unimaginable distress and hopelessness we saw among the poor people in India. We saw people in India begging for food and money, trying to survive. To see a mother sit on the street and beg, together with her young children, whom she most likely had drugged to awaken our sympathy and compassion, was a shattering experience. To see with our own eyes how people live in the slumarea, give us such a shattering impression that we will never forget.
The strongest experience
The strongest experience I am left with, is not the experience of poverty and distress. It is to meet a mother in the slums with a family of six. They live in a small shed. The husband drinks while she supports the family. And when we visit her, she tries to do all the best for us! To meet people who do not own anything, but still would have done anything for you, touch our hearts. To look into Pastor Johney and principal Sofias eyes, and feel their burning love, knowing that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for other people, that fills me with humility. And I don´t think I'm the only team-member who have had this feeling of shame.” What in the world am I doing back home, in my western world, in my self-centered bubble?
I wish everyone could experience India as I have experienced it. But what I want the most is that you who are reading this will ask yourself ; "What can I contribute?" - And then, do it!
Greeting Brit Helen
Youth-team visited Jammu
These 9 youth, full of energy and enthusiasm, was so eager to put their feet on Indian soil, when the day before departure we received the message that our flight to Frankfurt was canceled. So what do you do in a situation like that? No flight-tickets available. And to make the story complete, the days before departure I had felt a trembling in my heart, thinking about bringing these nine young people to a foreign country.
It was the first time I brought a youth-team to India. And now, to top it all, there was not a ticket available from Bergen to Frankfurt. We had to land in Frankfurt; on order to embark the plane that would take us to India.
Before leaving Norway, we did an intense work and checking, and after many "no sayings” from travel companies, we managed miraculously to get tickets. But with an inconvenience, we had to travel the same evening. Some of the young team-members were at work and some at school, and they had not finished packing. We had some few hectic hours before we finally could slip into the aircraft chair, headed for India. Our new tickets took us to Copenhagen where we had to stay overnight at the airport , where we did our best try to sleep in the various chairs.
At the slumschool
After a day in Delhi, where everyone had bought Indian clothes, we were on our way to Jammu on our first evening. After a night's sleep on the train, and a delicious shower when we reached the hotel, we were ready to visit the slum school. Last week, there had been exams at the school, so when we arrived at the school it was holiday. Nevertheless, all the students showed up just to meet us. Students were performing and mad a great impression on u us with their talents, and their eagerness to do their best.
When you sit down and watch these students, it came to my mind that none of them chose to be born in the slums. We did not either chose to be born in Norway. It just happened. But I really believe that to mean something for other people, gives us greater satisfaction than money. Through this work, both the kids and the sponsors are being blessed.
Last day a historical event took place. Pastor Johney had an idea about arranging a football match between norwegians and some indians. Of course I said yes, without thinking much about it. A good friend of Pastor Johney, a police officer and also responsible for all sporting events to the police, said they were willing to take responsibility for the match. He got a contact with the third best team in the city, for us to play against, on the city's largest stadium. The state minister of finance, should would be one of the VIP guests, plus many other famous guests. The bible school should preform a dance as intermission music, and a youth band would sing. For this occasion, nice football jerseys had been made. We borrowed three indian players, since we were to few, two of these players had been on the Indian national team.
The football game was announced as peacematch, and many trophies should be shared out by the Minister of Finance, who was muslim. There was no winner after the game was over, so then they had penalty shootout, we won the game.
We realized that this game put our work on the map in a new way. Next day there were images and reportage in 9 out of 10 newspapers, plus on three tv-stations.
The police officer who planned everything , has a big heart for the children in the slums, and therefore wants to cooperate with us, although he do not share our faith. He is very excited about the work we do in the slum, and have asked us if we could start football and cricket teams in the slum, to help kids out there. The olice will also support this financially. We are going to cooperate about this, and new doors will open. The police have also previously supported us with significant amounts due to he work we do with the children and the young people.
This trip gave us new ideas about how we can help people bu starting sports clubs in the slums.
The 2rd floor
It was also great to see how far the construction of 2rd floor had come. They were refurbish the inside walls, when we were there. When hope that the building will be completed during June / July. We are very grateful for that the work is going on
While I was in India I was asked if they should stop work, considering that we lacked 120 000 kr. to make it completely finished. We have already paid 300 000 kr. but we are lacking some. I said that they should not stop, because students could be without classrooms this fall.
Our goal over the next few months, is to get the rest of the money. If some of you have the desire to help complete the third floor, both we and the children from the slums will be very happy. Then we can receive the 150 last pupils on our school.
Focus on health
On February 21th, Gina Teigum, Liv Engebretsen and I enter the plane that will take us to Delhi, the capital of India. From Delhi we will travel north to the city of Jammu. As an attempt trying to look a little bit Indian, we use a few hours in Delhi buying colorful Indian Punjabi suits. We eventually realized that these outfits were more comfortable to wear than our western clothes.
The journey´s main goal
The goal trip was to visit Bethel school, run by Pastor Johney Batti and his wife Sophia, who is the principal of the school. With funding from supporters they manage to provide schooling for approximately 420 children from the slums. Children who would otherwise not had the opportunity to learn to read and write. Gina and I are both nurses, and our purpose for this trip is to examine and do a health checkup for children at school. We are excited about what awaits us and unsure how fruitful our stay would be. We've seen the movie Share Mercy made about the school, and the impression is that we see is a bunch of happy and healthy children. We also know that these children live in awful conditions, with malnutrition and lack of clean water. We have also been informed that children are often sick.
Our first day of work in on Monday. The school is closed because of a Hindu festival, but we've managed to get a few hours with the teachers at school. We teach basic wound care, as well as a crash course in heart lung rescue, but our main message is "hand wash". With holy conviction we communicate the best we can, showing that hand wash with soap is the most effective and cheapest way to prevent and treat disease.
We teach direct and practical, and repeat several times the importance of handwash: 1. After the lavatory and 2. Before you eat. Teachers show great enthusiasm when we step by step teach the international way of how to wash hands, and stress the importance to get them totally clean. The teachers promise to help introduce the handwash-method to the schoolchildren.
Later on the same day we have another meeting with approximately hundred parents who have been invited to the school to hear about the necessity of hand washing. They listen carefully. It is obvious that this is new information, and they happily accept a free gift, a bar of soap before leaving the meeting.
It happened, that later we hear that some parents who missed the meeting, but wanted to be there, came the day afterwards. They had a request to get a free soap.
Later this week we got the opportunity to teach at school. We went from class to class and were so happy when we discover that the teachers already had trained the kids, how to wash their hands.
Each class got a poster with pictures showing the hand-wash-method, step by step. In my eagerness I promised a little gift next time I visited, for those who had learned this method. The children smiled when they heard my promise, and it suddenly it dawned upon me that it could mean almost 400 gifts!!
The “handwash” become an important issue, while were there. We teach the staff working in the kitchen, in the school, and different departments. Posters of the hand-wash-method are being put up everywhere in the school, with the slogan “Wash hands, Save lives”
Discouraging health results
Our second major goal in this trip is to do a health checkup for the kids. Two Indian doctors are hired to help us, and for two days we do medical examination on about half of the schoolchildren.
They were being weighed, measured, listened to, and carefully examined for possible diseases.
We have made a health card to each child, where we collect and not all the information we get during checkup. We noticed that many children are weak and quiet. The Health checkup takes more time than planned, and the results are discouraging. It turns out that almost all the children are sick! In consultation with doctors, we decide to by medication and vitamin injections. Children are weak, malnourished and dehydrated. Many of them are being treated for worms. Several of them have infections and febrile. Doctors set diagnoses, and many receive medications. The main problem still cannot be solved with tablets. To improve the health in the long term, they must get more and better nourished food. How can they learn something on empty stomachs? It turns out that perhaps only half of children eat breakfast before they go to school.
Increase the effort
Another problem is the lack of clean water. The days of health checkup touch us deep in our hearts, and both Pastor Johney, principal Sophia, the doctor and us agree that something must be done! According to the doctor the health of children could gradually be improved by giving them breakfast consisting of an egg, a glass of milk and a banana. In addition, the luncheon that children already receive in school should contain more nutrition. Gina, Liv and I decide that this must be realized as soon as possible, and we realize quickly that the increasing of the monthly support must cover the cost of an extra meal food. This can come to pass, when the numbers of supporters increase.
Before we go home, it is decided that one of the doctors will help do the follow up with a complete checkup for each kid, once a month,
On our flight back home, we all have this feeling that this is just the beginning of a very important work. We will help “our “schoolchildren to get a better health so they can benefit from schooling and grow up healthy and strong. We hope and believe that many people in Norway will help realize this!
Greeting Kirsten Berg