“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open”- Jawaharlal Nehru
Welcome to day one of the Medical Missions Foundation adventure to Bhopal, India. Where two vastly different cultures come together in friendship and service; mutual respect and love.
The American team left their homes, families and the comfortable surroundings of familiar food and smells. Where cows and kids are most not likely walking through the streets, and where traffic does not descend into white knuckle chaos on a daily basis.
They come because they truly want to help. They also believe the world is full of beauty and charm and adventure. And they receive an added bonus that helping others will enrich their own lives and lift their spirits.
They are here to help people like L-N Agarwal. He’s 65-years old and has suffered from the debilitating effects of an untreated hernia for eleven years. A hernia. Eleven years.
It’s difficult for me to grasp the fact that something that would have been treated easily at home has caused this proud man and so many like him to live in pain and be unable to take care of his family, since most people here perform manual labor.
“I can’t put into words how meaningful it is to help people like him,” said Dr. Tammy Neblock-Beirne, a surgeon and medical director. “At home we come in on the weekend for gall bladder surgeries due to the patient’s pain. I can’t imagine how people here live with it for years.”
India only has fifty doctors per 100-thousand people. That must be part of the reason our Medical Missions team receives such a warm welcome from the patients, the Sewa Sadan staff, and the local community.
“This is the only camp (clinic) for this type of patient,” said Dr. Poonam Parwani, quality manager of the hospital. “We have patients who were not able to get on the list last year because the schedule was full are waiting for the team to return. We are all waiting.”
Team members are showered with flowers, food and big smiles from the moment they arrive. They exchange traditions explain cultural subtleties, and have long talks about a new job, or perhaps dreams each other has for their children’s future.
“Something magical happens here that keeps you coming back,” explained Neblock-Bierne.
In a time when world views are often shaped by suspicion and fear rather than respect and an openness to other cultures it seems to me that Medical Missions Foundation is needed now more than ever. That need goes well beyond the health care that is so needed and appreciated.