The UK team was involved in marathon medical camps in India in December 2011. In particular the eye team had a huge challenge in trying to organise various sub teams for four consecutive camps within 3 weeks! Below is a synopsis of the camps held by the SSSSO UK (along with volunteers from USA/Europe/India), in December 2011.
Dwarka Eye Camp (11 to 15 December 2011):
The SSSSO UK team was invited by Sanatan Sewa Mandal Trust to carry out an eye camp. The team comprised of 6 medical and 6 general volunteers. During the course of the camp around 1,800 patients were seen and 64 referred for cataract surgery. In total 1,463 pairs of glasses were dispensed.
Dwarka General Camp (23 to 25 December 2011):
Following the eye camp, two medical professionals (ENT surgeon and Psychiatrist) along with a medical student spent two days at the Sanatan Sewa Mandal Trust for screening children. Around 150 children were seen for general medical, ENT and psychological matters. Medications such as de worming tablets were provided to all the children at the campus. New school clothes were distributed for all children at the campus.
Dang Medical Camp (17 to 22 December 2011):
A group of more than 50 medical and general volunteers from UK, Germany (1), USA (1) and India participated in the Gujarat camp. The group was invited by the Manav Kalyan Trust Navsari. The team consisted of volunteers, GPs, Optometrists, Dentists, Gynaecologists, Paediatricians, Nurses, Pharmacists, other health care professionals and an Ophthalmologist, ENT and Orthopaedic specialist. The host community provided translators, kitchen and registration teams.
The Dang district is one of the poorest districts in the country; livelihood security is a severe problem. Mythologically, it is related to the Dandakaranya of the Ramayana. It is said that during the exile, Rama passed through this area and the folk songs are replete with events from the Ramayana. Although the district has the highest rainfall in Gujarat, it still faces severe water scarcity. The common diseases of the district are scabies, skin disease, TB, chronic anaemia. The district has the highest prevalence of leprosy in the state. Major health risks are malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation and above all, poverty.
The campsite was located within the grounds of a school for children with visual impairment and over the course of six days, in addition to the medical camp the team was able to undertake narayan and gram seva. Around 4,450 patients were seen (with around 7,500 consultations), narayan seva was served to over 9,000 people, 27 cataract operations were conducted, 1,500 spectacles and 15 hearing aids dispensed, 4 children referred to a special needs school – a sister charity of the host in Navsari. In addition, 716 patients were screened for sickle cell and of the 50 patients found positive, the sickle cell team reached out to their family members in the villages – accordingly an additional 220 patients were screened in villages. 165 patients were referred to a well-established hospital about two and a half hours away from the camp site.
The team was presented with numerous physical conditions and those assessed as being serious and in need of urgent treatment (around 220) were referred to hospitals for further investigation and surgeries (gynaecology, orthopaedic, paediatric, ENT and other general surgeries). Clothes and new woollen knitted blankets for children, new saris for women and blankets for families were distributed at the medical camp and in the neighbouring villages during the gram seva. Rucksacks and stationery for the school children were also distributed.
Alike Eye Camp (26 to 28 December 2011):
An eye camp was held at Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institution. The camp was meticulously organised. The students acted as translators; they showed a lot of enthusiasm, talent and love. The SSSSO UK team with the support of local optometrists and ophthalmologists were we able to provide support to more than 2,000 patients.
Mysore Eye Camp (30 to 31 December 2011):
An eye camp was held in conjunction with Saragur Vivekananda Hospital, in Mysore. Around 420 patients were seen.
Between the Alike & Mysore eye camps, around 700 spectacles (ready made and glazed) were dispensed. A significant number of eye drops for the treatment of dry eyes and basic eye infections were also dispensed. Both camps came with the option of surgical interventions – with referrals to local hospitals in the area. A large number of common eye conditions were seen e.g. cataracts, dry eyes, pingueculae, pterygia, eye injuries and also retinal detachment with vitreous haemorrhages. Untreated amblyopia and strabismus and uncorrected large refractive errors were also some of the common findings.
It was truly a fantastic experience to watch the camps unfold and develop, see people “change” in such a small timeframe and be able to listen, understand, empathise and where possible give direction, advice or medicine to those who were suffering from illness, hardship and poverty. We were constantly reminded of Bhagwan’s immortal messages of “Love all, Serve all” in order to realise the divinity within us. Although logistics were extremely challenging, all this was only possible with the blessings and immense love of Bhagwaan Baba.