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Love and Light

Service Wing - Experiences at Dang Medical Camp: Part 3

17 to 22 December 2011
Pharmacy Team Experience

It began, lasted and ended in love
From the moment we prepared to volunteer for the medical camp in Dangs, Gujarat from 17 to 22nd December 2011, Swami looked after our every need, through travelling to take His blessings at the divine abode, to meeting the camp until we finally stepped back onto UK soil. He had sent His nearest and dearest angels from unexpected corners to help us when we were stuck, ultimately allowing us to turn the dream of serving Him in His ancient sacred homeland into reality. We were so grateful. As demonstrated with the humble manifestation of the medical camp itself, Swami had showed us personally that when all seems lost but you nevertheless persevere, He will step in and rescue you. The blind/partially blind school children of Dangs were shining examples of such true wealth: never giving up, showing pure love to all and living contently in simplicity. It was infectious! And despite our backgrounds and way of life being at seemingly polar opposites, we became immediately at one with them, ready to Love all, Serve all, Live simply and Live in love. In a surreal sense, I felt we had come ‘home’.

Setting up the pharmacy from scratch was such fun and the team-work was remarkable; we simply would not have met demand without the students and volunteers who helped us pre-pack and dispense, the translators who connected us with the patients, the medical suppliers, runners and doctors who paid us visits. Our make-shift pharmacy itself was diligently constructed over ample space, shielded from the elements and complete with ceiling fans, lighting and water-tanks for drinking water, created a cooler, welcoming space for patients and volunteers alike (!) to rest. The team had worked under pressure to arrange ‘symbol’ dispensing labels, general medical equipment and pre-order large volumes of the finalised formulary from regional suppliers for timely deliveries to the camp, based within Dang’s outer-reaches. Interesting and unexpected drug combinations crossed our dispensing tables, from ampicillin / dicloxacillin capsules, potassium / penicillin G tablets and chlorpheniramine-based cough mixture (!) to all-purpose antifungal / antibiotic / steroid / antihistamine cream and gentamycin / neomycin / naphazoline / steroid eye / ear drops. Even anti-snake venom appeared on the formulary! (Though, thankfully it was not used). All were designed to hit more severe disease progression harder. It was an exceptional eye opener. As time allowed, we took the unparalleled opportunity to see other departments in action, witness diagnoses of severe / complicated disease / afflictions and screen patients for malaria via on-site blood testing in pharmacy - all rarely seen/done at home.

Despite the unyielding pressure morning until evening, I found a little time to admire how much time team members devoted to keeping one another’s spirits lifted, one another’s health in check and to even teaching the more ‘alien’ members of the team (i.e. me!) some Gujarati! Equally, no care or attention was spared for any patient in need, and those most vulnerable might have found that a sari, biscuits/chocolate, hair combs, pens, stickers, hair bands or a de-worming tablet were given to them alongside their prescription medicines. Many of the children and villagers touched our hearts. I will personally never forget the tiny little girl with learning difficulties, kicking and screaming so thunderously in fear in the prelude before I took her malaria blood test. After a few moments she suddenly transformed, breaking into a smile through little dimpled cheeks. Much to her mother’s surprise, she gave me a little hug. The affection was so unexpected. I had cleaned her face of mud and dust with a cooling wipe and given her a chocolate bar and a few colourful hair bands. She was so happy. But I felt that it was me who was actually transformed. We had done/given simple things but with a lot of love and it had made so much difference.

If we searched, we found many lessons for us to learn. One evening when I wondered whether we were supplying worthwhile amounts of medicine to those with long-term requirements for chronic conditions, I was quickly reminded that we were not just giving medicines; we were giving love, bringing smiles and laughter and that was much more powerful than any drug you could name.

Giving love was providing a unique ‘therapy’. To continue the treatment, all we need do is recollect the memories of treasured times and getting this simple ‘booster course’ will instantly help us smile and feel better.

Thank You all for gracing us with your company and love,

Thank You Swami,

Pharmacy Team