HANDS ON INDIA 2015 by DR NOEL PATTERSON.
Hands on India just continues to get bigger and better each year!
On November 22nd, 2015, I was again privileged to lead the Hands on India 2015 team of 30 dedicated professionals to work in one of the poorest slums in India. Although 21 of these were final year students at Murdoch University School of Chiropractic, they were totally professional in the long lead-up of fund-raising before we went (we raised $70,000), plus highly professional in how they assisted in the care of some of the toughest cases in harsh surroundings. Their thirst to learn was enormous from the fantastic group of 8 chiropractors who accompanied myself on the trip, and we would have long tutorials late at night after a very long day of attending hundreds of patients. They were so lucky to learn from some of the best chiropractors in Australia, who gave up their holidays to be away from their family and practice to be able to teach our future leaders of our profession. These dedicated chiropractors include Drs Paul Noone, Luke Nichols, Sharon Pedersen-Jones, David Mock, James Curry, Andrea Huddleston, Estee Lombard and Amber Beynon.
This is now the 10th year of Hands on India (HOI), and it has grown from a small beginning to what it is today. This year we attended over 4700 consultations during our two-week stay.
HOI now have 600 slum children in the 6 schools we fund. Education for children who previously had none or very little, is the only way we can get these children out of the slums. We have over 2000 women in empowerment programs to supplement their family incomes of $1.50 per day. We also cared for 69 orphanage-based children and a multitude of sick and abandoned children during our stay.
This year we have also taken over a school called Flame of Hope, where the magnificent Sr Ann (the next Mother Theresa), has taken in 28 of the most disabled children, both physically and mentally, who have been abandoned. In 5 years she has progressed from a rented room to a fully functioning education facility, housing the most needy 28 children with dedicated carers, and has just finished building a new school next door, which will eventually run to year 10. As this school has computers, Dr Noone was able to assess every child and establish sensory-motor learning programs enabling the teachers to direct these programs, which will make huge differences to the learning ability of the children. As they have just got Skype, Dr Noone will check the children on-line (how good is technology), and change the required programs which we have stored in their computers. In return she will take some of our poor children from our rock breaker schools so they can get even a better education.
Through our Women’s Empowerment Programs, we are changing 3 of the biggest problems that are prevalent in our area: domestic violence, child trafficking and sexual slavery. Our 2000 women are divided into groups of 100, and are now taught to work together to help each other with their problems, so there is strength in unity. This way they have reduced domestic violence enormously, as any potential perpetrator has to face 99 other women!! They now look after each others children, so there is less chance of child trafficking, and they are conducting education programs to learn more about health and sanitation. In 2 years these women have now learned from their children how to write. Literacy is vital among these communities, allowing them them to now vote, acquire loans and gain financial independence (most have triple the money we gave them). It is such an inspiration to watch the growth of these previously voiceless and vulnerable, beautiful women.
Most of the community members we attend have never received any form of health care. Many of the health problems we encounter we would never see in private practice in Australia (such as a femoral fracture resulting from acute osteomyelitis, numerous complex neurological problems, etc), and it is so fantastic to see the results that can be achieved through high quality, (low tech!) chiropractic clinical care. The most common comment we get from the students who have their lives turned totally upside down, is “now I know why I wanted to be a chiropractor!” If you could bottle the enthusiasm from the students, you could sell it for millions of dollars!
All of this would not be possible without our sponsors, and I would especially like to thank both CAAWA and CAANSW for their financial support. Please get on board and support next years trip led by Dr Sue Ferguson (contact her if you are interested in going this year), as you will never get more value for your donation as every cent raised goes to India, and everyone pays their own expenses.
India has been an unbelievable learning curve for me; so let it do the same for you!