Sunday, April 8, 2012

Health for All - Dr. Sabi Gurung (Medical Volunteer)

Session in Progress
Subash Chettri, a friend of mine, told me of a small fund he got from Australia and was trying to invest it on health. It was perfect opportunity for me to design a project, which I had envisioned for a very long time, for Koseli School children. The children live in various slums around Kathmandu under horrible conditions.

Animated discussion
My project idea was nothing fancy, tackle Koseli children’s health issues, guide and help them lead a healthier life style. My team, Zoya Gurung and Dr. Nabita Rai, and I discussed and researched health related real life stories and tried understanding matters regarding health, hygiene and diseases. I was amazed to see that the Koseli students brought topics like gender discrimination and sexual abuse / violence and how it affects their health. 

My idea was all about making the students participate as much as I possible, so that they get the maximum benefit from the project.  The students brought about the health issues from their daily experiences of living in one of the worst slums in Kathmandu, Jadibuti slums.

Seniors sharing their ideas
I highlighted the importance of reproductive and sexual health issues among the students. I conducted detailed sessions on above issues with students above the age of 13. The students then wanted to share their knowledge with the younger ones at school. So, we formed another session the next day. I was moved when one of the girls said that health knowledge should not be limited but also spread to the other people who are illiterate and ignorant. The older students told the younger ones to report issues of sexual abuse, touching private parts, for example. The student understood that keeping silent on such issues would only make things worse. Often times, children in slums are victims of sexual and mental abuse by their own relatives.

Work done by the kids
The issues of drugs and alcohol dominate Kathmandu slums. The children shared experiences of drunken people misbehaving with girls, beating up their wife and children. One student shared his experience of hiding in the sewage when his relative went wild after getting drunk.

We showed them some documentaries on street children, slavery and educational cartoons based on health issues. Besides, we bought medical supplies, multivitamins, first aid kits, water bottles, educational and stationery materials, clothes etc.
I asked the students how their lives changed after coming to Koseli. Some said free education, others free food!  One little girl said, "Koseli is the last hope in my life to help me become an educated person and get me and my family out from that gutter."

volunteers & kids
The project was truly an amazing experience for all of us. We were inspired by the enthusiasm, honesty and aspiration of Koseli children. Living with minimal life supplies in slums has not discouraged them from aspiring to change the world.

goodies for the kids
Lastly, I would like to thank all the people who invested their heart and mind into this project. Our deep gratitude goes out to Denis and his amazing team in Australia for trusting us on our ideas. Koseli children made cards and wrote letters to you!

Also, I want to thank Dr. Nabita Rai, Zoya Gurung , Subash Chettri, Subhash Ghimire, Krishna Mani Baral for their amazing support! Thank you Renu Bagaria for being an amazing role model for all of us. 
team of volunteers