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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Comprehensive Rural Health Project

The team is wrapping up our week at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project and getting ready for our individual travelling adventures. This past week at CRHP has been an incredible learning experience. CRHP is focused on providing primary healthcare to the rural villages surrounding Jamkhed by providing resources, education and training to the villagers to promote sanitation, physical and mental health, and equal rights for all. We spent our time here learning about how CRHP accomplishes this using the 3-tier Jamkhed model. 

The first tier is the community. CRHP facilitates many groups, including a women's group, young farmer's club, adolescent girls group, and adolescent boys group, as well as provides training for 1-2 village health workers per village. The village heath workers are women who are chosen by their community to provide and educate villagers about healthcare. We have been lucky enough to meet many of these inspiring women and hear their stories. These women have gone from being discriminated against to now being the rock of the community. They have learned preventative healthcare strategies that have alleviated many issues that once caused mortality and hate through the training they have received from CRHP. 

The second tier is the mobile health clinic/team. The mobile health team bridges the gap between the community and the health professionals. This interprofessional team is made up of a nurse, social worker, doctor, paramedic and development personnel. The team conducts weekly home visits as well as works with the village health workers to collect vital statistics for healthcare monitoring. We had the opportunity to visit local villages with one of the social workers who is very active within the community and is a member of the mobile health team. It was a moving experience to see how the village people live and how the community helps each other. We were impressed when we saw the simple yet effective techniques used for diagnostics and treatment within the villages.

The final tier is the Julia hospital, situated on the CRHP campus. The hospital has 50 inpatient beds and is equipped with diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. Using a sliding scale fee structure this allows the less fortunate to afford the services and treatments needed. The hospital also hosts weekly cataract surgeries and monthly family planning camps free of charge to all patients. Ravi (the son of the founders of CRHP) gave us a great tour of the hospital. We were amazed to hear that there has not been any post-op infections in the past 40 years. 

CRHP has also helped facilitate an intricate watershed program in the district which allows communities to collect water and prevent erosion. Another project facilitated by CRHP is their organic farm. It provides food for the community and campus, as well as provides a source of income for the organization. It is run by women who have been outcasted from their community due to stigmatized illnesses or violence, providing them with a home and self-fulfillment.

Our time at CRHP has given us a new perspective on healthcare. The way the community utilizes their resources from within is not only sustainable it is effective. Hearing the stories of some of the villagers who  overcame illness and stigma to become a valued part of their community reinforces the impact of the Jamkhed model. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn and experience the effects of the services provided by CRHP. We are eager to see how this new knowledge will influence our future health practices at home. 

As we prepare to leave CRHP and reflect back on the past five weeks we are amazed at everything we have learned and experienced. Although our time volunteering in India has come to an end, the experiences we have gained will influence us for the rest of our lives.  We are so grateful for the time we have spent at each NGO and we are looking forward to our next adventures travelling through India.

The team exploring the organic farm on a bullet cart

Women washing clothes in a nearby village

As we visit with a village health worker

Learning from the Young Farmer's Club

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