Posts filed under ‘India’

Last Day in India

Sorry for the lapse in postings. The jetlag is starting to catch up with me. Alas, we’ve been in South Africa since Saturday. But before I share stories from our visit here, I’ll fill you in on our last day in India. I think I mentioned the political strike that was scheduled for last Friday in Kerala. To play it safe, we decided to stay close to home to survey the situation. We interviewed Raj in the morning at our B&B as he lived right next door. Then, in the late afternoon, we ventured out to visit a hospice with Raj. The streets were totally dead – in an eery way, quite a difference from the hustle and bustle of a normal day. Usually, there are wall-to-wall cars and people heading in all directions supported by a symphony of horns. People honk all the time in India – not so much much in an obnoxious way but more of “Hey, I’m here.” Anyway, on our way to the hospice, there were probably five other cars on the road and a handful of people.  

The hospice works with Pallium India to provide care and housing for people in need. It was a beautiful place, on a hill overlooking the jungle. This hospice, unlike those in the US, function in multiple ways. They serve people who are homeless or ill in addition to caring for those nearing the end of the life. The people that worked there were amazing. There is one nun who handles almost everything with the support of a few people. Raj makes his way out there occasionally to provide additional support. On the way back into town, the city was back to its old self – pulsing energy. As far as we know, there were no incidents from the strike. Everything seemed back to normal – all safe and sound.

Here are a few pictures from our last day in India. You’ll notice that we left in the middle of the night. We had to leave for the airport at 3am to catch our 4:45am flight. I thought for sure the airport would be a ghost town that early. Not so much. Like the rest of India, it was bustling at all hours. We barely got onto our flight. By the time we made it to the gate to check in, there were only three seats left. Phew! That definitely woke us up.

May 6, 2008 at 11:57 am 1 comment

Thursday in India

Today made the challenges and nail-biting of getting our Indian visas to enter this country all worth it. It was heart-wrenching, inspirational, and really, really sweaty. I knew before we left Austin that this would probably be our most difficult day emotionally (at least for me). We spent the bulk of it with the folks from Pallium India. We started at their outpatient clinic in Muttacaud, interviewing several cancer survivors onsite before joining the team for two home visits. Their home visit team includes about ten people – a doctor, two nurses and six to seven volunteers from the community – serving patients who are either too ill to come to clinic or don’t have the financial resources. 

This program is absolutely amazing. The people running it are phenomenal and the cancer survivors they serve are so inspiring. The doctor visits the patient once a week, the nurses twice a week, and the volunteers try to stop by and check on them every day. They believe that everyone has a right to live pain free – whether undergoing treatment or nearing the end of life. They also offer emotional and financial support. While all of the stories we heard today were amazing, I was most moved by Mr. Binu. He is 32 years old and has a beautiful family – three small children and a wife. 

When he was diagnosed, the doctor told him there was no cure for his cancer. His family was shattered – afraid to lose a husband, a father, a loved one but also afraid of an uncertain future as he’s the sole breadwinner. Even with his diagnosis, he’s done everything in his power to put his family at ease. He stays bold and happy to keep their spirits up. He doesn’t tell his wife when he’s in pain as not to worry her. He just wants to be strong for them, sacrificing his own needs for those of his wife, two daughters, and son. Palliative India has been a huge part of his attitude as well. He said that, in addition to the medicine and treatment they provide, they give him courage.

Mr. Binu exuded peace and strength. Before I even knew what he was saying, I was moved to tears by his amazing energy and positive attitude. With every answer to our questions, there was a smile on his face. I will not forget Mr. Binu. His story will serve as an inspiration to me for years to come and will most definitely help me keep things in perspective.

May 1, 2008 at 11:32 am 3 comments

Wednesday in India

Our first day in India had some twists and turns. We met with Dr. Rajagopal (Raj) at the clinic and the early afternoon and met our interpreter Sajiv. Everyone here has been so lovely and helpful. We’ve had to adjust our schedule a bit due to some “hiccups,” as Raj put it. The President is visiting Trivandrum Wednesday and Thursday so there are some road blocks around town, there’s a bank holiday Thursday, and a political strike on Friday. We’re not all together sure what the political strike entails. Raj said that the city usually shuts down but hospitals stay open. 

So, yesterday, we went to a local beach and did a few man-on-the-street interviews. The setting was very cool – waves crashing, sun setting, kids playing the beach, fishing boats. Everyone was really willing to talk to us. People actually gathered around while we were doing the interview. Even better, a local news station was there and filmed us doing our interviews. Claire and WIlson were both interviewed. We think we’re going to be on the news today and in the newspaper. Here are some photos.

Today, we’re going to a rural village to do some home visits with Raj and his team. This afternoon, we’ll do more man-on-the-street interviews at a local museum.

April 30, 2008 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment


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