Based on the needs in the communities we are serving, this will be the final week for the food distributions. There will still be a few medical camps next week. The next phase of rebuilding housing and damaged facilities will then commence. These people will be supported by the ongoing services offered in partnership between Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust and ASMITA.
Even though life is returning to normal, the medical camps continue to be well attended. Many of these people would not otherwise seek treatment for the skin diseases, gastrointestinal symptoms and fevers being presented. The camps are held in the communal grounds of each community – often under the shelter of a shade giving tree, or sometimes just beside the dilapidated walls of the community housing. Each camp has one or two doctors, a nurse in attendance and the medicines and supplies that the Sai Maa community has donated.
The process is natural and free flowing. As the afternoon progresses, more and more people arrive and begin to crowd the patient area. It is amazing to watch as the doctor works individually with each patient. Although surrounded by all those waiting their turn, his concentration never wavers as we watch what he is doing and listen to his words. The patients themselves react differently to the open consultations. Some are reserved, looking a little shy or embarrassed. Others are not at all self-conscious – loudly explaining their problems to the doctor and exposing the parts of the body to be examined. But all willingly submit to whatever the doctor requests; whether it be answering questions, placing a thermometer in their armpits, showing the rash on their body or having their blood pressure taken. The doctor talks kindly to the children and ensures that a parent or guardian is present before starting.
At the same time the nurse fulfills the prescriptions and gives the instructions to each patient. Unlike in most countries, medicines are not prescribed by the box. Instead, the doctor indicates the number of each pill that are to be taken, and then the nurse cuts that number from the packaging and gives them to the patient. Great care is taken to ensure the instructions are orally understood and clear. No medicines are given directly to children, with the parent or guardian being given the instructions.
At around 6pm, the camp begins to come to a close. The doctor repacks his briefcase and the nurse returns the unused medicines to her bags. Antibiotics, both penicillin and non-penicillin based, and skin creams have been highly popular items on each day. The doctor bows and says ‘ Namaste’. The villagers watch as we walk towards our vehicles and as we pass they smile or say ‘Danyavat’, which is Hindi for ‘Thank you’.