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Jamkhed India

Jamkhed India

Jamkhed CRHP  was founded in 1970 by Drs Raj and Mabelle Arole, and their daughter Shobha and her brother Ravi continue to work tirelessly as doctors, surgeons and directors of one of the most successful NGOs in the world. Mabelle and Raj both studied medicine in the United States, before returning to their home country to dedicate their lives to helping the "poorest of the poor."

 Cooking chapathi on an outdoor stove

Cooking chapathi on an outdoor stove

 Carrying water from the well

Carrying water from the well

I was fortunate enough to travel as part of a training program organised through Melbourne University and the Nossal Institute. You can find more about the program here.

It was in Jamkhed that I had my first exposure to the value of Public Health and 10 years on, what I learnt in Jamkhed remains more pertinent and valuable to me than the doctorate and masters degrees.

 

 

CRHP taught me several key things about health, medicine and development:

 A well built by CRHP in the middle of a village of people from a lower caste.  Having the well positioned here meant people from higher castes were forced to mingle

A well built by CRHP in the middle of a village of people from a lower caste.  Having the well positioned here meant people from higher castes were forced to mingle

- you cannot simply tell people to change, because they won't. You need to understand them, live amongst them, be accepted by them and work with them to enable them to change themselves

- empowering women is key to achieving health care and development goals. Women are instrumental in managing the health of families and communities, but they are also half the population - if you don't use them you are wasting half your resources.

- understand the community, the culture, the people. The caste system in rural India is still prominent, but there are other social barriers such as landowners and non-landowners, different religious groups and stimga toward people with chronic disease or disability. Finding ways to overcome these barriers, or break them down allows the communities to work together and be more empowered in change.

 A young woman and her herd

A young woman and her herd

 A meeting of the farmers to discuss social and community concerns

A meeting of the farmers to discuss social and community concerns

- the environment is a critical health determinant - meaning that without nutritious food, without water to drink, without housing and sanitation, people cannot be healthy.

 

A farm growing the Drumstick tree was a special excursion for us, to demonstrate the importance of understanding the natural resources and also respecting the traditional knowledge of the people who have survived these harsh environments for thousands of years.

 

"The drumstick tree is a source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron and potassium. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. The Drumstick Tree is known to have the highest protein ratio of any plant. One tablespoon of leaf powder provides 14% of the protein, 40% of the calcium, 23% of the iron and most of the vitamin A as well as 8 amino acids per day for a young child. Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide nearly all of a woman’s daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding."

 The hallway of the outpatient clinics

The hallway of the outpatient clinics

 A hospital wards. People supply their own bedding, food and materials like dressings or catheters.

A hospital wards. People supply their own bedding, food and materials like dressings or catheters.

 Operating theatre where sterile spaces are at a premium - two operations run side by side

Operating theatre where sterile spaces are at a premium - two operations run side by side

One phrase continues to resonate with me, and often comes to mind when I feel overwhelmed by the work I do - a community health worker explained how CRHP has been so successful - because they retain a perseverance and commitment to incrementally "light one candle at a time."

As of 2011, the CRHP has worked with 300 villages and over 500,000 people.

 Snake charmer

Snake charmer

 Community health worker with her doctors bag

Community health worker with her doctors bag

 Mud huts with straw rooftops made from dried cow manure

Mud huts with straw rooftops made from dried cow manure

 Community health worker conducting baby-checks 

Community health worker conducting baby-checks 

Elcho Island

Elcho Island

Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island