Hands on India began in 2005 when chiropractor Dr Brett Dellar and a group of Murdoch University students visited Siliguri, a remote community in the far North East of India to volunteer chiropractic and basic medical care. The trip was such a success, groups have been returning annually to the community.
Hands On India work to support the community around Siliguri, West Bengal, India – an area bordered by Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and China.
What began as annual trips to provide chiropractic and basic health care to a region, has grown to supporting a community that was locked in poverty and lacking education. Much of the community works on tea plantations picking 20kg bags of tea and breaking river stones by hand to sell for road base and building works. This population consists of many minority groups, tribals and vulnerable illiterate people who live on $1-$2 per day. Their hard labour results in many musculoskeletal problems and people locked in the poverty cycle.
With 1 in 4 children in child labour we realised we needed to fund schools in the local communities and support women in Women’s Empowerment groups to allow children to attend schools and receive an education and escape the poverty cycle.
Hands on India now provides financial support for 7 schools, over 700 children, in their local rock breaking or tea picking communities. Our funds provide schools, teachers and learning materials for children who had no schooling available previously. Once completing these primary schools almost 50% are mainstreamed and are able to attend government and private schools. In addition the 600 families involved learn of health & hygiene, gain legal documents such as birth certificates, voter cards and have an overall improved quality of life.
2000 women are part of Women’s Empowerment Groups and secure funds which they use to purchase piglets and goats, sewing machines or learn skills to run small businesses allowing them to build financial independence for their families. Most of the women in the project are illiterate and “voiceless” resulting in poor status and lack of unity. These women largely work in tea gardens earning under $2 per day. They are often victims of social injustice, harassment and trafficking with difficulties providing health food and health care for their children. Support of these women has allowed their children to attend schools rather than work in child labour.
Annual trips to the region take groups of around 30 chiropractors for 2 weeks to provide “hands on” musculoskeletal and basic health care to the people of the Siliguri region. For 2 weeks they will stay as guests of the Seva Kendra Mission. From there they travel daily, to set up make shift clinics in the slums, orphanages, rock breaking and tea picker communities. They also work with the Mother Theresa nuns, seeing those most in need who have limited access to any health care. Most are labourers, tea pickers and rock breakers, so appreciate the care of their weary and physically stressed bodies. In previous years, our teams have attended to over 40000 people during their stay, helping some of the poorest in India restore some health, vitality and hope.
Attendees volunteer their time and fund 100% of funds raised go to funding the Siliguri region schools, Womens Empowerment projects and providing healthcare.
The region is largely tea plantations, where the majority of the poor work as tea pickers or in stone breaker communities.
Stone breakers search for stone in the river bed and then break it by hand to sell for road base.
Tea pickers pick 20kg bags of tea which they carry all day on their heads.
In both of these highly vulnerable, poor communities
1 in 3 children aged 4-14 are engaged in child labour.
The average earnings are $1 per day for this hugely