From 16 to 18 January 2010, BAPS Charities and Medical Wings International joined efforts to organize a free medical and eye-care clinic for the tribal citizen of Poshina and Khedbrahma. Located 150 km from Ahmedabad, the town of Poshina is a market and trade center serving over 300 tribal villages. For 15 days, BAPS volunteers travelled the villages to announce the upcoming camp. Setting up the camp in such a remote area was a challenging task, yet 50 BAPS volunteers were able to convert the local Poshina Referral Medical Clinic into a comprehensive medical checkup center suitable for the clinic.
A total of 16 doctors – 3 from the USA, 3 from the United Kingdom, and 10 from India – served over 2,700 tribal villagers during the three-day camp. Villagers received general medical, pediatric and skin care. Also, wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches were given to disabled villagers, while over 300 pairs of high-quality shoes and slippers were given to children in need. Around 550 villagers received detailed eye testing, of which 450 villagers were given new pairs of glasses to correct vision disorders.
Each patient was also counseled in hygiene awareness and an anti-addiction exhibition was set up to educate villagers on the ill effects of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Young mothers were offered tips on raising healthy children within the constraints of their limited daily medical and dietary facilities.
The volunteer medical staff from America had an inspiring experience in India. Bethany McKittrick (Optometrist, Denver, CO) said, “We are happy to have the opportunity to serve the people of India and see your beautiful country.”
They were also pleased with the service and aid provided by BAPS volunteers. Glenda Johnson, Executive Director of Medical Wings International, commented, “We graciously appreciate how wonderful our first mission to the Poshina community was. Please know we will be back. My heartfelt gratitude to BAPS”. Jamal K. Gwathney (MD, MPH, Washington D.C.) said, “Excellent hospitality from the BAPS staff… very professional and welcoming at the same time.” Kate Garvey (Registered Nurse, San Francisco, CA) commended the volunteers’ efforts, saying it was “invaluable – always kind, pleasant, and patient.”
The collaborative efforts of Medical Wings International and BAPS made a strong impact on the lives of the Poshina villagers as well. Both life-changing and life-saving treatments were given. Bharat Ramabhai Darji, who was given a wheelchair said, “My life will be greatly improved by this gift. I can now move freely within my home and give more support in the care of my family.” Vijaybhai Gamar had a serious cough for months but never saw a doctor. When he arrived at the camp he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and given proper treatment. Without the camp, his illness could have turned fatal.
The camp was another step in the ongoing efforts by BAPS to raise the health awareness of such tribal areas. For the past 25 years, BAPS sadhus and volunteers have supported the medical, educational, and family needs of thousands of local tribal citizens.