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Hi everyone!

I know it has been a while since you've heard from us but we have no wifi access.  We were in Pune for a few days. After a 6 + hour bus ride to Mumbai and over 36 hours spent in either airports or airplanes, we arrived safely back in GR last night.  Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers and for reading this blog! We have appreciated it so much!

Peace and Blessings to all of you! 

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         Today started off the ordinary way...me rolling over and seeing the other members of my room trying to turn back time and pretend it's not time to wake up. Then the closing of doors outside our room as the girls file out of their room and to the dining hall. Finally the guys are ready and we head to join the rest at the dining hall for my personal favorite, french toast! Morning worship consisted of singing both in Marathi(the local language) and English concluding with daily devotionals. Doctor Shoba talked with our group sharing Reshma’s story. Reshma had a dispute with her mother-in-law, who poured kerosene and lit Reshma on fire and severely burned her. The Community Rural Health Project (CRHP) hospital treated Reshma for her burns, but she took over a year to recover. In that year her husband visited her with their two children and therapists were helping her to restore her self-image and give her hope despite her burns. Then her husband left her and married another woman. The night of the news Reshma tried to commit suicide twice but was prevented by staff and finally calmed down. Life afterwards was a road of recovery as she again had to overcome depression and learn to view herself in a positive light. Now Reshma helps with jobs around CRHP and is a very good artist, and when you ask her how she feels about herself she replies, beautiful!

After hearing her story we all headed to the preschool located on the CRHP campus to distribute clothes, which were generously hand made or donated to the professors to give to the children. Each college student would pick a pair of pants/shorts and a shirt and find a child who it would fit and help dress them in their new outfits. A couple of the boys who I helped had very incredulous expressions, as they could not figure out why their clothes were being taken. Others were tearing off their clothes left and right and running around in excitement for their new outfits. After everyone had new clothes we played with them in the playground, which involved hula-hoops, cars, slides, and various games such as ring around the rosy, and London Bridge is falling down.

 

Next on the agenda was a ride into the cattle market where every Saturday farmers bring in their livestock to be sold or traded and others come to buy. The cows were all tied up, decorated with tassels and sporting bright pink paint. The breeds ranged from water buffalo to Holsteins, and many different breeds in between. We moved on through the cattle and into the goat section where they were also being sold or loaded onto large trucks to be hauled away. Our last stop was the produce market where vegetables, fruit, fish, and grain could be bought from numerous retailers who were all yelling letting people know they had the best price (at least that’s what I think they were doing (I'm not a master at the local language yet).

 

Bulls at the cattle market.

 

The produce at the vegatable market


 

 

We returned to CRHP for lunch and then had the rest of the afternoon free which many of the students took advantage of. Some, myself included, enjoyed the sun up on the roof, others read books, wrote in their journals, or went for walks/runs. At seven we had a debriefing session in which professor Couzens shared her story of working with homeless people in the greater Grand Rapids area. She inspired us to take the leap of faith and fall into the arms of Jesus, and to trust in him when we are uncertain of where to go.

Dinner included rice (no shocker there!), chicken, cabbage, and fish; to close the night off some of us watched Monster University on a projector and then hit the hay to rest up for another big day tomorrow.

 

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Happy Happy Birthday to our wonderful Professor Bossenbroek!

Hi! So glad I can be writing to you right now. After being sick and in bed all day yesterday with a stomach bug, I awoke this morning feeling much better and excited to celebrate another year for Bossenbroek.And what a day it was, filled to the brim with class and other CRHP activities. Seriously though, I'm up past my bed time (normally around 10p here in India) writing this because there wasn't any free time.

The day started with our typical breakfast and morning worship but with a couple times of singing "Happy Birthday" thrown in. We also enjoyed a special India treat which Bossenbroek shared with us after worship. It tasted and melted in your mouth kind of like cotton candy.I love birthdays!

 

Then we had class on herbal medicine taught by Shoila (probably the cutest elderly Indian woman) and alternative medicine taught by Dr.Shoba right after. Shoila taught us about how 16 different plants could be used for treatment which she also showed us. It's crazy what they use for medicine which we would encounter normally in everyday life. Who knew you could treat people's illnesses with these things? Dr. Shoba again challenged us to think in a more hollistic approach to medicine by talking about some alternative medicine types such as Ayurveda (health from balance of elements) and acupuncure.

 

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(Shows tumeric which Indians use to reduce swelling)

 

After lunch we had only a couple of hours till our next class and much to do. Some ladies on the compound were going to do henna for us and then we could also help paint a mural in the Pre-K. 

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(Ranu painting the watermelon for the mural. Look at that technique!)

 

That was followed by class on Women's Health. Dr. Shoba really challenged us as Christians and asked us to think critically on how we could change gender roles. Our last class of the day was on the impact of CRHP. They have really done so much good here in India and it has been really cool to learn all about it.

Finally, the grand finale was dinner for Prof. Bossenbroek's 50th birthday (but shhh it's a surprise) on Dr. Shobba's roof under the moon lit sky. We had fireworks and gift giving. Prof Bossenbroek received a card that we all signed along with a "shower' of Bible verses. Birthday dinner was a delicious feast of chile with buns (or rice of course) and spinach and cucumbers. And a special dessert of CHOCOLATE cake and more of the same Indian sweet. Seriously, I love birthdays.

There was so much behind the scenes work done by Professor Couzens who planned the whole thing. Shout out to Mr. Bossenbroek who provided all the decorations and the interns who made the CHOCOLATE cake in India! 

What a great day!
Hope it was a memorable birthday Professor Bossenbroek. You are such a such a blessing!

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Good night from India (and a Good Morning to you all back in the states!)

 

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Namaste!  

 

Today has been a busy day filled with classes.  The morning began with breakfast and then worship, as usual.  Then we had a class on rational drug use.  Dr. Shobha talked about how at the CRHP hospital they only keep drugs on hand that are on the list of essential drugs made by the World Health Organization.  She said that the list is quite comprehensive and only about 5% of their patients need to get other, more specialized drugs.  She stressed that new, more expensive drugs are not always the way to go.  She also talked about how American medicine is too specialized and focused on research and technology.  Patients are becoming almost dehumanized.  She encouraged us to be critical of what we are learning and to focus on healing people when we get into our future careers. She is really challenging us to think critically about health care and to think about it in a different way than what we are used to.

 

The Hospital

 

Next was a hospital tour!  The group was very excited for this; most have been looking forward to it the entire trip.  First stop was the administration center of the hospital.  Currently they are running on a paper system.  Blue cards for males, pink for females, and yellow for children under the age of 5.  Then they are organized by village.  If the patient is not from a village that CRHP is currently working in, they are organized alphabetically.  The people here are CRHP are in the process of switching over to an electronic system which the employees at the hospital are very excited about.  They employ 9 nurses, 4 doctors, and a few lab technicians, administration people, etc.  One thing I have noticed about the employees of CRHP is that they usually don’t have just one job.  When we were looking at the x-ray room, a guy came out and said he was an x-ray technician, electrician, plumber, and worked with the artificial limbs that Josiah told you about yesterday – that is quite the job description if you ask me!  We saw the children’s, maternity, female, male, and ICU wards, delivery room, and operation theater.  For surgeries, the hospital has the same outcomes as any hospital in the U.S., they just aren’t using state-of-the-art technology.   In a 50 bed hospital, there were only about 6 patients!  This is due to the mobile health team and village health workers doing such a good job at preventing serious health issues in the first place! 

 

 

The next class only Ali, Rose, and I attended with the students from Elon.  The three of us are either public health majors or minors and the extra classes we attend are with Dr. Prem, and epidemiologist.  We were split into three groups and chose a topic to research in the slum across the street.  Ali’s group was first, so they presented what they found about animals.  They looked at how the animals were used, how close they were to the homes, and basically how animals in the slum affect people’s health.  Rose’s group will be going tomorrow and looking at water management outside the home and my group will be going Sunday to observe sanitation and housing conditions. 

 

Non-communicable disease was our next class and we talked about hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  It was very similar to our previous class on communicable diseases.

 

Right after was another class with Dr. Shobha on mental health.  Mental health is the second most important public health issue in the world, according to the World Health Organization.  CRHP just applied for a grant to train counselors from the villages similar to how they train the village health workers. They are really working towards a comprehensive solution to health in rural India.  

 

Now it’s time to get our sleep and prepare for what tomorrow has in store for us!  Thank you all so much for the prayers and supporet while we are on this adventure.  We are truly blessed to have all of you lovely people to come home to in a week.

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Awaking from a deep slumber on this fine morning, I found it nearly impossible to escape my bed of silky sheets. Upon the realization that it was Wednesday, an infamous Geico commercial infiltrated my mind, forcing me to turn to face Mike and rapidly say, “Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike, what day is it? Hump Day! (see referenced source here: http://youtu.be/kWBhP0EQ1lA).” As always, breakfast was a plentiful slew of eggs, bananas, and bread accompanied by peanut butter (or Nutella, if your name is Troy). After full nourishment had been achieved, we proceeded to community worship at 8:30, which I assume has been covered in a different blog post at some time.

Following worship, we made our way into passenger vans and traveled to a nearby village that the Comprehensive Rural Health Project has been working alongside for the past thirteen years. Here we got a look at healthcare in action, as it is performed in the villages by the mobile health team. This visit gave us an ideal opportunity to contrast the functionality and percieved overall health of this village and the village we went to last week, which had a barely visible connnection to CRHP. It quickly becomes clear how strong of an impact CRHP has on the villages it connects with.

The main purpose of the visit was to see the mobile health team working with patients with reported concerns, which was an incredibly interesting experience. The mobile health team consists of a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, lab technician, social worker, and development worker. This team meets together once a week with the purpose of treating and discussing health concerns of the villagers. A brief description of their typical weekly meeting includes: listening to health concerns, performing focused assesssments, checking blood pressures, providing appropriate medications, teaching of the hazards of chewing tobacco, reminding of the usual health hazards in India (poor sanitation, unclean drinking water...to name a couple), and of course recording all pertinent medical data in notebooks for referencing by either CRHP or by hospitals.

The Mobile Health Team at work (shown above)

Following a delicious ricey lunch, we voyaged to CRHP's artificial limbs workshop. In India, the use of one's legs is absolutely essential in order for one to make an income – side-noting that 52% of jobs in India are agriculture related (lots of leg work). Therefore, if one has been in an accident or got gangrene and required an amputation, they are left with medical bills accompanied by a tough decision to make: whether or not to by an artifical limb for around 20,000 rupees. Keep in mind, the average income for a citizen of Marahashtra (the state Jamkhed is located within), is slightly less than 750 rupees a month. Here, they have artisans working to create sturdy artifical limbs that are useable for up to twenty years, and the real kicker is that they only cost 3000-4000 rupees depending on whether they are full leg or half leg replacements. This more affordable option is of great help due to many of India's population suffering from detrimental economic woes.

The Prosthetic Workshop (shown above)

As anyone can see, CRHP's work here in India has been a life-saver for the population, teaching health sustaining practices and providing necessary education and resources for those they work with. And in the mean time, we are all having a fantastic time enjoying the splendid weather and endless learning experiences. Continued prayers for not only our group but also CRHP's work in India are welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for staying updated and God bless.

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Another luminous day in the land of crows waking us up at five in the morning, my day began with a trip to the water tower adjacent to the hospital. At 6:30 AM, Anna knocked on the door three times, giving the predetermined signal to wake up for the days adventure. We sauntered over to the tower, a somewhat monolithic and barebones structure in comparison to its surroundings. We climbed the three sets of stairs, being greeted with a pretty decent sunrise at the top. The cloud cover obstructed a significant amount of the view, but it was quite fascinating to see how the flock of birds in front of us twisted and turned like an amorphous blob torn by a two year old. We returned to the compound, and met a hearty breakfast consisting of French Toast (to which I added chocolate syrup and butter - a delicious combination), Eggs, Bread and Butter, Bananas (Vitamin B6 is a must have), and a warm glass of milk. Once we had knocked out our breakfast, we returned to our rooms and got ready for our lecture. 

The lecture today was another joint session with Elon College, hosted by Dr. Aagashe. An expert in Tribal Health, the lecture covered Tribal People in India and the various health issues surrounding them. In India, Tribal Groups are referred to as "Adivasi", breaking down to Adi - Ancient and Vasi - Resident. Around 8.3% of the Indian population are Adivasi, heavily concentrating in 15 out of the 28 states of India. The government has classified Adivasi as "Scheduled Tribes", and has started many initiatives to protect and support these indigenous people. In somewhat of an affirmative action like program, scheduled tribes have specific allotments in all stations of government, medical / law / engineering school, and other positions of note. These people are nomadic, roaming from area to area if they so choose, only returning to their village during the rainy season. The rest of the year they take up jobs within the surrounding communities who unfortunately value them as lower than any caste. A whole set of other problems plague the Tribal People, including manipulation by the goverment and caste system, a disjointed fit into the education system, belief in magic and various superstitions, displacement by government projects such as mine development, a lack of variety in nutritious vegetables, low birth weight and infant /child mortality and many others. Dr. Aagashe then transitioned to how CRHP and the government have specifically helped these tribal people, a program of note being the "Bhandardara Project" which ran from 2005 - 2013. VHW's (Village Health Workers) from Jamkhed were sent out into the tribal groups of Maharashtra and coordinated a collaboration with the government departments to focus on malnutrition and infant / child mortality. Once the lecture concluded, the guys quickly headed over to the compound to play ping pong - a game that we have grown to love and cherish (and get extremely competitive over).

The girls Sari'd out

"The Girls Sari'd Out"

Tribal Health Presentation

"Tribal Health Presentation"

After a rousing bout of ping pong, we devoured our lunches and returned to our rooms. At this point, the girls were dressed to the nines, Sari'd up from head to toe. The incredible variety and the vivid colors are quite a sight to behold. All the girls then headed into town for the Womens Festival. Paige recollected the events as a crowded and busy festival. The group apparently entered a temple wherein rice was thrown at them, signifying wishes of prosperity, and marked with blessings realized in the form of red dots placed on their foreheads.The guys chose a different approach for the afternoons events, some of us heading off for a run, and others (myself included) heading up to the roof of the compound for an afternoon nap / bout of relaxation. The top of the roof is a barren box with foot high walls, a random chair placed here and there. Me and Peter set up our towels and relaxed to a serene mix of music with Josiah and Mike eventually joining us. Whats absolutely fantastic about the roof nap is you have a combination of temperatures, the hot sun beating down upon you while a light breeze blows across, cooling you down. We spent around two hours relaxing there until the next lecture session.

The Women's Festival

"The Women's Festival"

View from the Roof

"Roof Top Lounging"

The final lecture session of the day was a conference style Q&A session with founding members of a Farmers Club, a group of men who get together to discuss events going on in the village concerning the physical / financial wellbeing of its citizens, and various ways to improve quality of life and tend to its wounded. The most interesting part of the lecture was a demonstration of black magic which boiled down to excellent slight of hand, and an explanation of how it has been used to deceive the communities.

Gotta love that Chai Tea!

"Gotta love that Chai Tea"

Overall, its been another fantastic day in Jamkhed learning about how to better spread shalom and bonding with our fellow classmates.

 

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It's Monday again. However, I believe, this Monday, we are all a little bit more alert and we have definitely gotten used to the cold showers and early rises. We started our morning with a filling breakfast; we had scrambled eggs today, which we haven't had yet. We didn't have class till 10:30 today, so we had a nice break after devotions. During the break some of us went to pick up the preschoolers, hopefully, we will all get an opportunity to pick them up later in the week. It is such a joy to play with the young children, and practice the little Marathi that we learnt from Sheila. Some ladies stopped at the helping hand center. At the helping hand center, some young ladies from the village come together and make different pieces of art. They had earrings, necklaces, coasters from broken glass bracelets. There were so many beautiful little things that would make great souvenirs. 

 

In class learned about some of the common communicable diseases: malaria, HIV, leprosy, and tuberculosis. It was really interesting to learn how CRHP has helped the villagers learn ways to prevent and administer appropriate treatment. We also learnt about the risk factors and social impact each disease makes on the patients, their families, and the village as a whole. Then we had another break to simply unwind and reflect on what was taught or take a short nap.

 

Later on, we talked about the watershed built in some villages by CRHP. The watershed help with restoring the soil, increase the water table level and getting water in the wells. The amount of agricultural/environmental engineering that goes into improving the health and lifestyle of the villagers is amazing to see. With the watershed, we are so use to simply turning the faucet and having water and never really thinking about where it is coming from. However, the process is so important here, it makes such a big difference. We visited one of the watersheds, and the landscape was just spectacular. We also stopped by a well, saw some of the people lifting buckets of water from the well. There was elderly woman who surprised with her strength (pulling buckets of water from a well might make an excellent upper-body workout).

 

We ended the day with mashed potato, a chicken soup, cauliflower soup, and words from Mary Geegh’s “God Guides”. Professor Bossenbroek read a passage from Geegh’s “God Guides” that illustrated the importance of simply listening for God’s voice. To not simply hear, but to do as he bids us.

 

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HeyOO! I thought I would add some pictures to the blog so enjoy! :) We are having a great time here! These pics are from some of our weekend adventures at the ellora caves, the fort and the mini taj mahal! Another student will write later today about more of our recent activities, but myself, Anna, Beth, Katie M, and Amy all went with a CRHP worker to pick up the children from their homes and bring them to school. It was interesting to see their homes and hear some of the stories of the children who attend CRHP's preschool. It is extremelly incredible what these children have to go through every day. Many of them came from the poorest area of Jamkhed, where there home was constructed out of peices of scrap cloths, garbage, and scrap metal all leaned against some wooden sticks. One of the girls who attends the preschool was found by her aunt and uncle when she was 4 months old in a pile of garbage, flies all over here and she was trying to eat handfuls of mud to fill her up. They soon found out that her mother had died shortly after she was born and her father decided he did not want her so he hit her in the head and threw her into a garbage pit. Again she was only four months old. Unfortunately there are many heartbreaking stories like this behind many of the smiling faces at the preschool however there is also a lot of hope in their present conditions and futures with the help of CRHP. Now that little girl is attending the preschool and her relatives are taking care of her. We sang songs with all the little kids this morning some fun ones like your happy and you know it, father abraham, and this little light of mine. Slowly but surely the Light of Christ is shining in Jamkhed, mostly in these precious faces every morning as they continue to learn new songs about Christ and share them with their families back home, and this preschool is only one of the many programs of CRHP. Prayers and support for CRHP are much appreciated here, they really are advancing the kingdom! :) 

Blessings, 

Rose  

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