HANDS ON INDIA 2019

It is back breaking work crushing large rocks into small rocks for a dollar a day in the bed of the Mahananda River or picking the delicate leaves in the foothills of the Himalaya that will make the fine teas of Darjeeling. Somebody has to do it. And it is these people that Hands on India choose to assist and elevate, even for a small moment, in breaking the poverty cycle some may feel trapped by.

The upcoming Hands on India trip in February 2019 will be the 13th journey to Siliguri in West Bengal, India. Some people go back on repeat such as myself and my wife Deborah as team leaders, but most people will be experiencing it for the first time and have ahead of them an experience that will change their perspective.

As most people are confined to the niche that they have carved for themselves the small things we offer may make a difference in the people we come in contact with. Small things start us in a new way of thinking.

Our group will meet in New Delhi at the beginning of February and then travel to the north-eastern corner of India into an area called the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken Neck”. It is a stretch of humid subtropical land wedged between Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. With China just a short distance over the hill. This narrow strip of land is about 200 km long and a mere 60 km wide, down to 17 km at its narrowest. Over 50 million people live in this narrow corridor and Nepali & Bengali are the main languages spoken.

Our host is the mission Seva Kendra who supply us with accommodation, food, transport and general organisation in India. The team at Seva Kendra is led by Father Felix whose enthusiasm and dedication to the people of the district is inspirational and we are lucky to have them as our point of reference. Each day we pack up our 4-wheel drives with the adjusting tables and other equipment, load about 6-7 chiropractors into the back and drive for 30-90 minute to a village where we will offer chiropractic and basic medical services to the tea picking and rock breaking communities. We usually check in on the schools in the morning and the villagers in the afternoon. People are lined up waiting for our arrival and chiropractic adjustment and in the 2 weeks we will see over 4000 people. We return up to 5 times to each village, so a maximum benefit can be achieved during our short stay. Some people such as Tenzin will walk up to 30 km per day to get an adjustment every day in a different location.

What makes a more profound change is the education that Hand on India is able to sponsor. Our fundraising now supports 7 schools with over 700 children getting an education they would otherwise not be able to access. This education opens their possibilities and hopefully is a small step in the direction of breaking the poverty cycle. In addition, we also fund small loans to several Women’s Empowerment Groups so that they may set up micro-industry and gain greater independence and resourcefulness. Currently we have assisted about 2800 women.

After a day serving we retire to Seva Kendra for an hour or two of Continuing Professional

Development before jumping on the tuk-tuks and journeying to town for dinner. The smells, the noise, the chaos is intoxicating.

Those who volunteer their time individually finance the whole experience. They are also required to contribute by raising monies through fundraising activities. All the money raised is directed to the schools and Women’s Empowerment Groups, there is no middle management taking their “operating cost”.

Here is this year’s team:

2019 Team Chiropractors

2019 Team Assistants

Alex Alvevras

Ashley Foskett

Andrew Moulton

Deborah Paul

Andrew Paul

Sean Paul

Ben Smith

Stephen Black

Brad Smith

Darren Little

Genevieve Pyle

Grace Cummings

Irene Chin

Jessica Bravo

Kate Stewart

Kirsty Black

Michelle van Doorn

Nadia Vind

Patrick Holmes

Regan Wilson

Saba Ektekhar

Sahil Lutchman

Thomas Williams

Wayne Markham

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Paul

Team Leader