Our Final Blog…

February 25th, 2009 by INMED
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Our last weekend in India – Time really has flown! On Saturday, we spent a lot of time finalizing our research project on lactation practices in the Fatehpur area and then finished our first Bollywood movie “Bhootnath,” which was very cute.


Sunday was a full day for us. We got breakfast at the mess (puri – which is chapatti fried in ghee) with potatoes and peas – one of the best breakfasts we’ve had here! Then, we went to the fellowship service again with Dr. Sujith and some other members of the BCH staff. After the service, we took rickshaws to the bazaar (marketplace) and bought parting gifts for some of the staff here that we’ve worked closely with. After a busy day of shopping, we went to our friends’ house and were taught to make one of our favorite foods here – Chapatti.  That is the pita-like bread that is stuffed with potatoes/onions/spices and heated on a skillet with oil.  We served it with sweet tomato chutney – yum!!  We had so much fun making it and can’t wait to come home and make it for you!  It was a busy day and that night we cashed it in early (after our final load of laundry in India!) with our books and another movie. Really, a fairly uneventful weekend, with the exception of an extremely fast-moving lizard in our bathroom


There were many comforts of home that we’ve missed during our time here – but the incredible sightseeing, diverse patient population, generosity of the hospital staff, friendships, amazing food and countless eye-opening experiences have been more than worth our long journey here.  It will be wonderful to see our friends and family and get home to a nice hot shower … but we are already anticipating the many things in India that will be difficult to say goodbye to. Thanks for reading our postings and following along with our adventure – it’s been an exciting one and certainly an experience we’ll never forget!

Back To The Villages

February 20th, 2009 by INMED
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It’s been another interesting week for us. We got back from Allahabad and were back in full swing with a full OR schedule and a busy outpatient clinic. On Thursday, we were able to travel to two villages with the Community Health Development Program. A potential manager for CHDP was there to visit some of the sites. At the first village, the CHDP staff conducted a class on HIV/AIDS for local women. They were asked to name the routes of transmission of HIV and the right/wrong answers were explained. Interestingly, they were also asked if they believed that HIV is curable and many said ‘yes’. The session leaders from CHDP were excited to be able to correct this misconception and it really demonstrated the power of these sessions to educate and prevent the spread of HIV. There is always a female and male teacher present, so that the women feel comfortable attending class and expressing themselves.


According to a member of the CHDP staff, the second village we visited is inhabited by members of India’s lowest caste. This is the caste known as “the Untouchables”. As we drove into the village, we passed their school and, having seen our faces, many children left school to follow us. We were able to spend a little bit of time with the children and were also given a tour of the village, including explanations of some of the agricultural equipment. Recently, a new system was put in place for removal of excess water from the wheat fields. This was funded in part by a government subsidy and has improved the fields in the surrounding 10 hectares. The villagers were very proud to show us and the staff from BCH.


To relax at the end of our long days, we’ve started watching some of the Bollywood movies that we bought in Allahabad, along with eating some of our Indian sweets. We’ll post another blog on Monday before we leave for Delhi on Tuesday.

Engagement Party

February 13th, 2009 by INMED
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Last night we were lucky enough to be invited to an engagement party for a relative of a security officer at the hospital! We were told in Delhi never to pass up an opportunity to attend a wedding-related function, so we were so happy to go.  The party consisted of food, music and a tour of the bride-groom’s home.  The whole village pitched in to provide food for the event, and it was very good.  We were advised against eating any raw vegetables, rice, curd or sweets … but there were plenty of warm vegetarian dishes (paneer, chickpeas) with puri (pita fried in a lard-like substance called ghee).  They decorated with a lot of tinsel, lights and colorful rugs which gave a fun atmosphere to the village. According to the people here, North Indian weddings have a reputation for being very elaborate and in fact, on the way home we saw a wedding with fireworks and dancers in the street! This is wedding season here and almost every night we hear music from the nearby celebrations. Often, it goes on all night and we can see fireworks on the way to/from dinner.


Today, we attended a health fair in a community nearby the hospital. Believe it or not, we travelled to the hospital by motorcycle! Many different villages comprise one block and this health fair served an entire block. Representatives from many different villages came and different hospitals had booths at the fair, providing medical advice and/or teaching to the villagers.


The Broadwell Christian Hospital group had models there to explain human anatomy and the birthing process. Our friend Theresa did a lot of teaching about the negative effects of alcohol, smoking and chewing paan (tobacco, betel leaves and masala spices). We, together with Dr. Sujith, saw a variety of patients, many of which had tuberculosis. Free medication samples were on hand to give them. It was a challenging afternoon but we were encouraged by the hope that many villagers, upon our advice, might seek additional medical care for their quite often very serious illnesses. At the end of the day, we learned that our booth had not only seen the most patients, but also won first prize at the health fair! We were very excited! Tomorrow we’re off to another medical camp to provide free check-ups to patients. And then tomorrow night, we leave for Allahabad, a nearby city, for two nights. We’re staying with a friend of Dr. Sujith’s and are very excited to visit the city (much larger than Fatehpur) and the well-known museum there, which is dedicated to India’s first prime minister, Nehru. We’ll blog again when we return on Monday and then we’ve only got one more week at the hospital before we leave to go back to Delhi – shocking how fast time is flying!

In The Community

February 11th, 2009 by INMED
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Yesterday we were able to travel with the Community Health Department staff to three villages in the community. These are very poor communities around Fatehpur where the Community Health Department at the Broadwell Christian Hospital does outreach programs on HIV/AIDS, gender issues and women’s microfinance. The villagers were incredibly warm and welcoming. We were offered chai and sweets and shown around. On the whole, we made quite the splash – being the first Westerners to ever visit these villages. Some people even asked us to come back so that their children who were in school then could see us!


They were very curious about us – what brough us to India, how we liked it, our marital status and they even wanted to hear us talk to see if we sounded like the people on tv! They really enjoyed when we took pictures of them and they were able to see themselves on the small camera screen – in fact, we even doubted whether we’d get the camera back! In addition to the cows, goats, sheep and dogs, we also met an adorable litter of piglets, which the villagers thought we were crazy for taking pictures of.


Fun fact: The population of Uttar Pradesh (the state we are staying in) is the same as the population of the entire United States!  Very had to believe, but true :)


One more update – we have started a project with one of the doctors here examining the breastfeeding practices in this area.  There are a lot of low birthweight babies born here, and many women are uneducated about the benefits of breastfeeding, and the risks of introducing animal milk too early in the babies’ diet.  So far we have come up with a questionnaire to ask the women about their knowledge, attitude and practice concerning breastfeeding, and are using a translator to interview the women.  We have talked to 11 women so far, and had varying and interesting responses.  Someone at the clinic will be translating the questionnaire into Hindi so that we can have the women complete it themselves, if they are able.  Our goal is to talk to 100 women during our time here, and then see what the results tell us about how this clinic can better prepare women for breastfeeding.  It’s a very exciting project, and has kept us busy!

Ganges River

February 7th, 2009 by INMED
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The medical director, Dr. Sujith, came back to the clinic today after being in Delhi for a few days. We met him for the first time, and he is extremely friendly and likes to give a lot of teaching.  He has been orienting us more to the clinic, and giving us plenty to keep us busy – we’ll give short presentations each morning on a certain topic related to the patients in the hospital, and we will work on a project over the next two weeks studying breastfeeding practices in the area.


Tomorrow we have a trip planned to the Ganges River, which is India’s largest (and most polluted) river.  It is considered by many to be holy water, and people frequently bury their dead relatives there with the belief that this will provide them with a good afterlife.  People also take trips there to dip their bodies in the water to wash away their sins.  We will go have a picnic there with other staff from the hospital.  The weather has been very warm and beautiful during the day, and there are many mosquitos out – we have plenty of bites to prove it.  We have also seen a variety of animals around the clinic and on the streets – monkeys, dogs, pigs and cows. The monkeys have a reputation for stealing clothes, so we’ve kept a close eye on our laundry and so far, we haven’t seen any monkeys running around in our outfits!

Arrived Safely!

February 5th, 2009 by INMED
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We arrived safely in Delhi after a 13 1/2 hour flight, and were tired but happy to be on the ground! We spent two days in Delhi resting, shopping and eating. Delhi is a crowded, bustling city and could be overwhelming at times. Our contact in India through INMED took us around the city and explained a lot of the culture differences. Through her, we also met up with other visiting students from Ireland and Belgium, and she took all of us shopping for traditional Indian clothing that we are all to wear while working at the hospitals.


The clothing is called Salwar Kameez, and it consists of a long tunic-like dress and wide-legged pants with a scarf (called a dupatta) that hangs around our neck. The colors of the clothes are incredibly bright and beautiful, and they are very comfortable to wear! Good to conceal the large meals we are eating 🙂 We also spent time at the oldest outside shopping plaza in Delhi, called Connaught Place. We were approached often by people asking us to shop in their stores, or trying to direct us – we’re sure we stood out in the crowd! There we found a restaurant called Piccadelhi (a play on the shopping center in London called Piccadilly). The food is excellent, but we have been advised never to drink water that is not bottled (with an intact seal) or boiled, so we have been cautious. We also found a movie theatre, and thought we could see an authentic Bolly-wood film, but the only showings that day were “Slumdog Millionaire” – it is getting a LOT of press around Delhi, which is great to see.


After two days in Delhi, we took a 9-hour train ride to Fatehpur, which is where the Broadwell Hospital is located. We are so thrilled to be here, and everyone has been so nice and accommodating. The hospital is situated on a walled-off campus right in the city center of Fatehpur. There is both an outpatient department and inpatient hospital, along with a community development center. All staff (including the doctors) stay on the campus. We are staying on campus as well. The hospital provides our meals, which have been delicious. We eat three meals a day plus chai daily at 5pm. We are also served chai in our room each morning before breakfast. Often we are served food by a staff member and get portions that are much more than we can handle! We’ve eaten dal (lentils), roti (unlevened wheat bread), curry and many other yummy North Indian staples. Much of the food is very spicy, but is served with a lot of white rice, which makes it a little more mild. So far, nothing has been too spicy for our stomachs 🙂


We’ve spent two days in the hospital now and already seen a lot of new things. The hospital is mainly women and children. There are many deliveries taking place, sometimes up to 90 per month! We are getting a lot of newborn and OB/Gyn exposure. Tomorrow the medical director of the hospital will be coming back from a trip to Delhi, so we will meet him for the first time and likely settle into a routine. We will be able to help in deliveries, a variety of surgeries and newborn care. We will also spend sometime working in the Community Development Projects, which the hospital coordinates. These projects reach out to the villages around Fatehpur and provide public health initiatives (vaccines, pregnancy care, education, and financial assistance).

4 Days Before Our Trip

January 26th, 2009 by INMED
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We are so excited to be departing for India on Saturday! There is still a lot to get ready. Today we bought a bunch of supplies, and were fortunate enough to get a lot of medical supplies donated from a local store. We were also able to get a lot of great tips and equipment from a friend whose daughter has recently travelled to Calcutta. There is a lot of snow & sleet coming down outside in Columbus, but the weather in Uttar Pradesh (the region we will be travelling to in India) is expected to be sunny and 70’s! -Ellen & Kirsten

Introducing Myself

January 25th, 2009 by INMED
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mcnamara_kirstenHello! My name is Kirsten McNamara. I am a medical student at Ohio State College of Medicine, and I’m starting my INMED service-learning experience with Emmanuel Hospital Association at Broadwell Christian Hospital in India beginning in February 2009.