“Stop and Drink the Chai!”
This February I had the opportunity to be part of a medical team which was organized by e3 Partners to go to India. We focused on two areas, first Pathankot, Punjab, where we went to smaller villages for out-patient clinics. Second, we had a clinic at a UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) camp that was in New Delhi. We were able to have five clinics and see 1734 people. Our clinic staff included 2 MD’s, 1 dentist, 1 eye MD, 2 RN’s and 2 pharmacists. Our focus was on primary medicine, especially with our limited resources. Malnutrition, parasites, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and hypertension were among most of what we saw. We also did many well baby checks and reassurance to mom’s they were doing well and teaching for those who needed assistance.
I enjoyed getting to meet people from other cultures, to learning the differences and to seeing how much alike we are. We all have dreams and desires, we want our children to grow up healthy and hopefully better than us. We worked primarily with Sikh’s and Hindis, which I have had limited experiences with in my practice at home. The greatest difference, other than the masses of people, was the religious practices. Their religion seemed to be much more intertwined in their lives and taken more seriously. Men and women were separated when it came to public events. Also the hospitality, to each village we went, we would stop at he host family’s home. We were treated to chai and short bread cookies. During mid-afternoon clinics we could count on being brought chai. Then at the end of the day back to our host family for more chai, and cookies. They are a very hospitable and giving people. I never was into chai tea prior, but now, “stop and drink the chai” became my slogan.
The most difficult part of the trip was seeing the children with malnutrition and parasites. You just want your children to get a healthy start. It was also difficult to hear the stories at the refugee camp of torture, beatings and imprisonment prior to escaping Afghanistan and coming to the refugee camp.
There were many memorable experiences, let me focus on three. First, joy in the children’s faces. I had the opportunity to spend time and play with the children between seeing patients. It reminded me children are children. Their joy and fresh outlook on life, it is very infectious. Second, was a man I met who survived an Afghan prison. He talked of beatings and torture, and escaping with his family, his health problems he now has and the effects it has had on his wife and children, both emotionally and physically. The effects have become generational. Third is the story of faith. We had a woman come to our clinic to share how she had been raised from the dead. Our team leader spent time with her, listening to her story. She told of how she had died and was wrapped for cremation. A man in white came and told her husband to go to this man and have him come and pray for his wife. He did and his wife sat up, fully alive. Our team leader spent time investigating, interviewing people involved and confirming the story. I have heard of such stories. It was an amazing story of faith.
Having opportunities to go and be part of medical teams, reaching out to those in need, has been such an enriching experience in my life. It has been a time of personal growth, faith building and helps me as a nurse in my practice at home. I look forward to my next opportunity and want to say thank you to One Nurse at a Time for helping this trip become a reality.
-Ken Lobe, RN