Seeing Gettysburg Abroad

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Seeing Gettysburg Abroad

I recently found out that Gettysburg College awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service to the founders of the Comprehensive Rural Health Project – Jamkhed, Drs. Rajanikant and Mabelle Arole in 1985. I am currently doing my Independent Study Project at their organization. Small World? I think so!

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That’s so India! (My adventures in Udaipur)

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Last week we had the opportunity to spend time in Udaipur, one of the most beautiful places in India, also known as the city of lakes. We spent a lot of time exploring the city, meeting the locals and shopping! It was kind of our ‘mini spring break’! We stayed in a beautiful hotel sitting over the lake. I was one of the lucky people in the group to have my own room within our suites. My room was a nook looking over the lakes and palaces. 381 384383 Every night before sunset, we would find a good restaurant and watch the sunset while chatting about life. It was the perfect end to our day! These were the times where I would reflect on how good God has treated me. I realized that I am blessed to be here in India and all these beautiful  views and incredible knowledge I am gaining are all because of God.

391 394 405 I also visited a gorgeous palace and temple. The palace was huge with amazing views. The temple was intricately designed. The temple caretaker explained to us that the designs showed life. At the top were gods and goddesses, the second level were people, the third level were the animals and the lowest level were the devils. This temple prayed to Shiva.

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022 025 028 Udaipur was not only filled with impeccable views, lakes and palaces but also progressive ways of health care including a mobile medical unit, Balwadi , Bal Sakhi, Seva Mandir and a Mother Milk bank.

Mobile Medical Unit

The mobile medical unit seemed like a sustainable idea that connected communities with health workers. The mobile unit travels everyday to 20 villages per month, a village a day. Many people miss out on seeing doctors and nurses because of how far the nearest health center is. Each medical mobile unit ideally has two medical officers (one male and one female), one lab technician, one x-ray technician, one social worker, one pharmacist, one GNM, and one nurse.

We were able to see a Balwadi which takes care of children from about 60 families within the mountain villages. The idea behind preschool childhood centers is great because it gives a chance for mothers to work and generate income and/or fulfill their household duties. Also it gives children a chance to interact with other kids their age. Programs like this show that even in the mountains that children and women still have a chance to overcome determinants like distance from others. Also I ate a ton of chickpeas, I could not stop.

My absolute favorite part of the excursion was visiting the Mother Milk Bank and Malnutrition Center. It is great that families have a place to drop their unwanted infants instead of abandoning them in the streets or simply killing them. The great part about this drop off location, the person’s identity is unknown and their child is safe. The mother milk bank is also known for asking mothers to donate their extra breast milk and giving it to mothers that are unable to lactate. The Malnutrition Center was located in a tertiary hospital and I had the chance to meet this seven month infant that had the body of a one month old but he was the happiest baby of all despite his shortcomings.

I would definitely recommend Udaipur as a place to visit to other people. We all ended up wanting to stay longer.

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Next week I am off again to another part of India, more south. I am going to Jahmkhed, in the state of Maharashtra which will be a 20 hour train ride and a two hour drive to our destination. Wish me luck!

Also…

HAPPY HOLI EVERYONE!

D.I.E Exercise with the Okhla slum

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D-I-E is a tool or system for discerning among the facts, interpretation of such facts within specific socio-cultural contexts, and subjective evaluations of such information from passionate and opinionated positions. D-I-E stands for Description, Interpretation and Evaluation. Below is my D-I-E for the Okhla slums which is supported by the Hope Foundation who are supported by the Indian government.

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Description:

A young woman, 21 years old, joined the slum in July 2013 after marrying her husband in May. She is currently six months pregnant and is enrolled in the Mothers’ Group. The mother’s group teaches women about the right food to eat while pregnant, how to clean their home and basic things they should know. With the help of the Hope Foundation, every month, the people in this specific slum celebrate Nutrition and Health Day and after attending she told her family she was pregnant to receive the most influential vitamins for her baby’s growth such as iron and follicle. Traditionally, women keep their pregnancy a secret, but with NHD, women learn the positives of telling their families’ as soon as they know they are pregnant.

Interpretation:

Having the support system of the Hope Foundation is helping many women in this community. Women are using the resources to help their family and their newborns. Many more women are having successful births because of this organization. There are high infant and maternal mortality rates in India and the Mothers’ group is decreasing the rates by educating new mothers on their bodies and their growth. Women like the 21 year old, that are unknowledgeable on much needed vitamins and lactating are benefiting from this group as well as their children and husbands. It seems as if there are a lot more success stories than disaster stories.

Evaluation:

Overall, I think this foundation is helping the people of the Okhla slums. They seem to be benefiting from programs like the Mothers’ Group and Street to School. The good thing about this organization is they are not intruding on the slum families they are basically integrated within the community. I think if the slum wants to continue to develop they should continue to follow Hope Worldwide initiatives.  However I have only been in India for almost two weeks and only visited one slum, I cannot really make strong judgments based on one slum without being able to compare it to others and other organizations that are trying to help. Nonetheless, I am hopeful for the future of this slum and the young people within it.

My Last Week in the USA

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My Last Week in the USA

Saturday: Shopping with my aunt for conservative clothing that will follow the dress code of India. After about 4-5 hours of shopping, we went for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings

Sunday: My hair after 4 hours of sitting in the hair dressers chair, I decided to get box braids for my months abroad.

Monday: My aunt and my cousin visited me to say their goodbyes. They both left me with gifts that would enhance my experience in India.

Tuesday: Last “official date night” with my boyfriend. Went to see Ride Along, it was hilarious!

Wednesday: My clothing waiting to be put in my suitcase, the smallest amount I have ever packed. I’ll be buying most of my clothing in India.

Thursday: Said my goodbyes to my family in the airport and I am now currently ON MY WAY to New Delhi, India

“The journey of…

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And the countdown begins!

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Laozi

The journey that I am about to embark on is leaving me feeling excited, nervous and curious. On January 30th, I am leaving for New Delhi, India. I’ll be focusing on Health and Human Rights with the SIT Experiential Learning Program. My classes include Capacity Building, NGOs and Healthcare Delivery, Politics and Economies of Public Health, Intensive Beginners Hindi, Field Methods and Ethics in Social Science and Health and an Independent Study Project. Our program includes us traveling a lot between the rural and urban areas of Northern India. For my Independent Study Project (ISP), I am interested in researching how religion plays a role in an individual’s access to health care.  I am going to a place that is filled with many stereotypes and I am interested in finding the truth.

The next eighteen days are going to be me focusing on learning basic Hindi and mastering Devanagari script. Devanagari is the script used for the Hindi language, similar to the alphabet. My study abroad program sent us some primary education books from India to help get us started on learning the language and the script. Learning this new language is what I am most nervous about. For the whole program, we have to use our new Hindi language skills to get in and around India. However, I am ready to take on this challenge. I can’t let language barriers get in the way.

Materials to study Devanagari script

Materials to study Devanagari script

Another thing that I am working on before I leave is obtaining my student visa, finding clothes that are perfect for both the weather and the culture and saying my goodbyes to my family and friends. I am praying that everything goes as planned and I am on that plane in eighteen days.

I’ll be blogging about my experiences to and from India. I hope to see a sense of growth within myself over the next three months.

Śānti Prēma Ēkatā

Peace Love Unity