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Love and Light

National Medical Camp 2011

December 2011

On 17th December 2011, set in the beautiful, sacred and hilly terrain of Dang, Gujarat, India, a medical camp was set up in the grounds of a school for the visually impaired. It was a grand occasion made even more special by the brightly coloured décor of all of the marquees – it was as if there was a festival about to take place. In creating this fun yet relaxed atmosphere surely contributed in encouraging the villagers to come and take advantage of this opportunity.

The 116 school children welcomed us with songs, and in the evenings the tribals entertained us with traditional dance. There were also low level firework displays that were carefully thought out for those who have little or no sight using sound, smell.

Bus loads of villagers arrived all through each and every day. Some of the very young village girls were dressed in what looked like their best frocks even though they were torn and grubby yet they were all smiling and happy to see us. We had taken new blankets, clothing for the children and adults, stationery and rucksacks to be distributed to those in need.

The group of more than 50 people from the UK, India, Germany and America were kept busy and the resultant team work was phenomenal. It was a mix of Sai and non-Sai devotees although this made no difference – it was all love in action. Swami’s direction could be seen in all. The skill set included dentists, optometrists, paediatricians, pharmacists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, medical students, nurses, general volunteers, a gynaecologist, ophthalmologist and ENT specialist – not to mention the help from the host community that included translators, kitchen and registration team, some of who were school-age and were a brilliant help. Absolutely everyone was keen and willing to do whatever was asked of them!

It was a fantastic event. To watch the camp unfold and develop, see people change in such a small time frame was incredible. To be able to listen, understand, empathise and where possible give direction, advice or medicine to those who are suffering from illness, hardship and poverty was an invaluable life experience. The wonderful and heartening thing about this camp was that all the information and patient needs were being and will continue to be followed by the host team, thereby it becoming an on-going project.

As a general volunteer it has been an amazing adventure and I’m not sure who benefited from it the most as it was such a heart opening, heart warming and humbling experience. To be given the opportunity to interact with everyone from villager, to school children to doctors has been very inspiring. And despite the distinct disadvantage of not being able to speak anything other than English only made it more fun. My attempts at Gujarati caused great hilarity amongst the villagers and it’s amazing what a simple smile and unconditional love can achieve.

My main purpose was to fit and give out spectacles, which was a new experience and hopefully everyone was happy with the service. Special times included spending time with the children and trying to communicate using drawings, a variety of sign language and seeing a young girl’s huge smile as she looked in the mirror having been given a glass eye which meant she would no longer be ostracised by her peers for looking different. Every day was a joy, busy too but then we had gone for a purpose which hopefully we achieved – it was certainly a place of much love.

Even though I was very nervous about going I would thoroughly recommend this awesome experience to you all! On a final note I thank Swami from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the honour and privilege to be part of a project serving my brothers and sisters in India.

Jai Sai Ram

Jennifer Robson
Region 4 Spiritual Wing Co-ordinator