How do you put this into words? What an experience! I’ve travelled hours by car covering hundreds of miles. Over dirt roads and small streams, riding the ridge of cliffs and navigating through herds of goats to visit some of the more rural regions of Chamba, every day in a new rural community, each day visiting a new school. My primary role here is the health of these outstanding young adults – no problem so far. The YMAD kids are all very good at maintaining their health.
Secondarily my role includes well-child checks of the school children we’re here to teach. A few of the children need some serious medical help, but overall the majority of the kids are surprisingly healthy. I got a lot of help from Tanner, Jesse, Angela, Jamison, and Belinda. They were excellent medical assistants and ear clean-out teams. The biggest problems I have encountered are simple hygiene problems. Regular hand washing, daily baths, and teeth brushing would change these kid’s lives significantly. We all scratched our heads in amazement with the results of the eye exams. None of the children in 3 out of 4 schools need glasses – maybe its evolution.
Third, I came to educate. I’ve spent 4 of the days meeting with rural midwives and discussing sterile birthing techniques as well as newborn resuscitation. These women are fascinating. They have encountered all of the extremes of delivering babies with none of the modern medical resources to resolve complications. In one discussion we talked about what they do if the mother is having contractions but the baby is not coming out. My brain went immediately to discovering the cause for delay, checking the strength of contractions and watching for labor progress, all while keeping an eye on the babies heart rate to see if there are any signs of distress. Not these ladies – they believe that the most common problem is that the inside of the mother is too cold to let go of the baby. Solution – boil some fennel seeds, have the mother sit over a bucket with the fennel tea, wait for the steam to warm her insides and then the baby will come out . . . different.
All in all this is an amazing community and an amazing experience.