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Friday, July 5, 2013

ASSA - The First 5 Days   

On Monday, June 25, we officially arrived at ASSA.  We packed a lot into the first 5 days, including, for most of us, our first bouts of Indian food poisoning.  They call it 'Delhi belly', although Delhi is now a world away from us.  Tamil Nadu was literally a blast of fresh air from the second we stepped off the plane at Madurai.  The breezes were a cool relief from the heat of Delhi, and palm trees in the distance hinted that we had arrived in the tropical south.  

Ram, a physiotherapist at ASSA, was nice enough to pick us up at the airport in Madurai, a 3-hour drive each way.  This was my first sight of rural India and it was a different experience from the city, although still busy and with equally aggressive traffic.   On

Tuesday, we were given our welcoming tour of the ASSA grounds, and were very impressed with the diversity of facilities offered to the disabled here.  There is a medical treatment unit for spinal cord patients, a home for children with developmental issues, an integrated school at which these children participate with other kids from the community, a vocational training centre, and early intervention program.  We were also impressed by the workshop in which calipers are fashioned for residents.  Clearly ASSA, which thrives entirely on donor money, has built something special out of the resources they have.

We met some kids from the school and were swarmed immediately.  I literally had a boy on each arm and one crawling up my torso.  These kids want little more than to trade a few words in English and maybe a photo, and they are ecstatic.  We are also lucky to have Brooke and Andrea here, a couple of physiotherapy students from UBC who are showing us the ropes so that we can learn a lot of things the easy way.  We're all very excited to be spending the next few weeks here.