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India – The Work We Do Together

This week’s home for our medical work in Bhopal is the Sewa Sadan Eye Hospital Trust. This hospital came into existence in 1987 due to the Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984. I read a lot about that tragedy before we left and if you get a chance do a quick search to understand the amount of suffering and loss from that tragedy. The hospital has been a gift to this area but my writing today isn’t going to focus on the history of the hospital, but rather on the Indian and Medical Missions Foundation volunteers that give their time to Sewa.



Hetal (far left) rode the train 12 hours

Seva, or Sewa as the locals here pronounce it, means selfless service which is performed without any expectation of result or reward for the performing of that service. During a medical camp, of which there are four per year here, the halls are filled with those that give of their time and without hesitation give selflessly. This is true of our team, but I also want to tell you about 50 others. On Monday I had a chance to talk to several of the Indian volunteers who are here just as we are to help those that have nowhere else to go. Often when I would meet and have a chance to talk to one of these volunteers they would not want to talk about their own work, but would rather tell me about someone else. I met Hetal who is an energetic and friendly young woman volunteering in our pre- and post op area. This is her fourth camp, and she travels by train 12 hours to help for no pay. She kept saying “no no, you should talk to Lacchu”. Lacchu is a local stock broker who is beloved throughout the hospital by the other volunteers and each patient he helps. He is a focused, friendly man that gives you a feeling that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about. He has helped at Sewa for many years, but had no interest in telling me more about his own story but instead quickly told me about JK Pamnani or Kishore as the people know him around the hospital. He travels over 200 kilometers and has been helping here since the second year of the medical camps. His English was clear and concise when he told me each volunteer of the medical camps has their own story, but it is not about each one wanting the attention to be on them but rather the work we can all do together.


Lacchu (white shirt) loved by patients


I have been thinking a lot about his words “it is about the work we can do together.” I traveled here with 14 other Medical Missions Foundation volunteers; we then connected with 50 others that are all willing to perform services without any expectation of reward. It is something we all can strive for well after this mission is long over and we are all home. There is so much more we can do for those who are underserved around the world, if only we can continue to work together. If we can come this far and within a few hours be working with others from a different culture I am positive there is more we can do. Maybe you can’t make a trip like this but there are other ways you can work with Medical Missions Foundation. Reading our blog, sharing our story, or spending some time volunteering with us locally – we can do so much if we give selflessly and work together.



Kishmore (center) started volunteering at the beginning