As I told you I am starting this series by writing about India. I think it is SO fitting as a small team just arrived home from another trip to Chillakalu, they were there conducting a discovery and listening trip. They are hoping to listen and get an idea of how we can do our trips better and have more of a continuing presence even when teams are not in country. Hoping to create lasting care, and just in general help in the best way not just OUR way:-)
Get Caught Up!
Today I am sharing about our clinic days. We held 5 days of clinic, in 3 different villages while we were there. It was intense, BUT thankfully the team in India and the volunteers worked hard to keep us on our feet! We woke up and ate breakfast around 8am-ish, with the intention to get out by 9. But as Tom told me before India time is very different than American always in a rush time:-) Breakfast was always the regroup, where we talked through the previous day, got our assignments, encouragement and spent time in prayer. On day 1 of clinic, some of our team were not feeling well so there was talk of moving people around. I mentioned to Aaron (the eye Dr. and one of our leaders) that I was comfortable testing blood sugars (thank you gestational diabetes), so he told me I would start out in general medical while everyone got settled and we saw how all the members of our team would feel throughout the day. In some ways, I felt better about that assignment because it was something I have done 100 times, I have even helped others do it as they are learning to take their own blood sugar, where as the eye clinic felt like a new land to me. But in the end, I was placed in the eye clinic doing assessments and history like I had been trained the day before. This made me nervous but, I knew that that was one of the reasons I was their. To learn to rely on God more than myself, and to not be so confident in what I was doing I forgot to “see” the people in front of me. Tom and I were both in the “assessment” are, he spent most of his time checking eye pressure, while I did patient history and some preliminary eye tests. Think peripheral vision, pupil response, general observation, etc.
We did normally arrive at clinic by 10, probably earlier, but time didn’t really matter these days. We worked the clinic until well past dark many nights getting back to our “home” around wish and sitting down to dinner 8:30 or so. It’s really surreal when you look back and realize how many people we saw each day, and how many treatments, surgeries and glasses were given while we were in country and after. The first 3 days of clinic were at villages about 30+ minutes from where we were staying…on India roads which are scary. The first day we road in an open air vehicle, meaning we stood in the bed of this “truck” while the driver drove, we watched cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles come at us in our lane, until the last minute. Sides of the road and lanes don’t seem to matter here. It was surely an adventure just getting to the clinic:-).
I love this series:-) Maximum loads are not really a thing here either, UNLESS you count MAXIMUM, meaning what stays on without falling off! This is a man riding a motorbike, with a load of greenery on the back;-)
When we arrived at the first village I was immediately humbled, this is a school where children attend daily, but they didn’t look like anywhere I have ever sent my kids. People were camped outside the walls, and waiting for us…and had been for hours. Many had traveled far distances to see us, and be treated, or simply get new glasses. It’s VERY hard to put into words these days. I met so many people, and many, many people touched my heart and changed my life.
When we arrived we got a quick tour of where everything would be and some more information about what we would experience. We were as prepared as we could be. After that initial introduction we started setting up our stations and we met our translators. THANK GOODNESS for them, it would have been impossible to do anything if we had not had them! Seriously they were the best, and most if not all were volunteers from New Hope. I had a college student assigned to me, he was delightful! It was SUPER easy to communicate with him, and he did well with the patients as well:-)
This is Tom measuring the pressure in a patient’s eye. Because he had been on this trip before he was a BIG help to me, and to the rest of us in the screening area, I was SO glad to have him there with me:-)
About midway through the day, I stepped outside for some fresh air, and saw this. We had already seen SO many people, and SO many were still waiting. Many had traveled far, and had been waiting all day. I just wanted to keep working so we could get to all of them! I think everyday the team leaders said, we would be wrapping up around 4:30, but in reality it was closer to 7.
The last two days of clinic were hosted on the site of the Children’s home where we were staying. Again, it’s a little, or a lot surreal to see all the people waiting, hoping to be seen by the doctors. I walked a round with my camera a bit more on the last day of clinic, I wasn’t feeling super well, and needed a few more breathers than normal. Everyone wanted their picture taken, young, old, male, female.
These images below show the room the eye doctors were in, and the refractory, where they measured patients prescriptions.
The fabric colors here are AMAZING. I so wished I could bring more of it home:-)
This is the screening area, all the people we saw were precious, but there was definitely a soft spot for all the beautiful kids we saw:-)
This woman was one of the last people we saw, her beauty was something I wanted to capture. Tom did her screening.
The last day of clinic afforded a little more time for breaks and just “being” there, I took that as opportunity to takes pictures:-)
This is Aaron’s dad, Ed, one of our leaders. He was manning the door of the pharmacy. The pharmacy is where a lot of patients went after seeing us, or the eye doctors. Here they would pick up drops, be fitted for frames, or pick up reading or “cooling” (sun) glasses. It was a busy place, ALWAYS the last to close up WELL after the rest of us!
Even though they were packed all the time, they still had fun! I loved watching all the people be fitted and pick out frames, the volunteers and team in the pharmacy were really loving, and caring while they help people pick out glasses that would help them see!
We were able to give the volunteers all cooling glasses at the end thanks to the awesome donations! These glasses are SO important here because they are so close to the equator, mostly work outside, and the air quality is SO poor. Not to mention the fact that most transportation is on motorcycles or open air vehicles, meaning debris is likely to fly in your eyes while driving!
This is a chai vessel, chai is served twice a day as a “break” and you must take it:-) I was happy to oblige.
The people we saw were so beautiful, and always asking to be photographed, so, of course I did! I also got in front of the camera when asked:-) Apparently I at 5’4″ am TALL in India:-)
At the end we were able to screen and provide care for the volunteers and the children at both the children’s home and the school. It was an honor and a pleasure to end our clinic with this.
Whew! I told you clinic needed it’s own post. I am so privileged to have had this opportunity, and to have gone alongside my AMAZING husband. His heart always melts mine:-) We are looking forward to someday taking our sons on a trip like this. It is life changing, and most importantly “worldview” changing, which I think we could all use! Thanks for reading, next time is our farwells and our last day with the kids, you won’t want to miss it!
Jump ahead to our last day!
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