Settling in to India

Our first few days in India were a whirlwind. The 15 interns trickled in at scattered times and in between each airport pickup we enjoyed the sights  of some suburban areas of Mumbai. The majority of us were able to walk through a local market and had lunch at a local restaurant where we got to know each other. We had such a great time laughing and enjoying our last meat meal for the next month that the surrounding tables were all staring and shushing us because our laughter was over taking the restaurant. It is no doubt we are a lively bunch and definitely stick out from this tame culture.

After the entire group had finally assembled, we left the airport on our chartered bus around 3 am and drove through the early hours of Friday until we reached the Muni Seva Ashram after what felt like we had crossed the continent. It was one of the longest, hottest and most exhausting bus rides of my life and I am proud to say I have made many 3rd world bus rides.  We were pleased to have arrived but due to jet lag, lack of sleep and relief, we were most happy about our very comfortable beds and air conditioned rooms of Atithi Mandir, the dorms where we are staying at the ashram.
I slept almost 12 hours to catch up from the days of sleepless travel and awoke the next day feeling like a new person.

Sunday, like most places, is a day of rest so the Ashram was very quiet and almost abandoned of people. We ate a small breakfast and had a tour of the entire the hospital and the different wards.

It was impressive the amount of advanced technology and equipment this hospital has in such a rural area. This hospital has the first mammography unit in Gujarat and is the leading cancer treatment facility in the whole state.

Pictured here is the CT scan that is a rare piece of equipment in Gujarat.

We visited the senior living community, Vanprasth Mandir, where many seniors, men and women, are cared for who cannot be cared for by their families.

We also visited the Bhagini Mandir center for mentally disabled women who also could not be cared for by their families or needed further treatment for a variety of reasons. At the facility they receive care but also have regular chores like cooking and cleaning based on their abilities and do crafts and create decorations for the community so to keep them involved. They all seemed in such high spirits and were pleased by our visit. One girl even sang us a song.

We toured the Gaushala, where the they house cows used for breeding and dairy farming. The ashram depends on the dairy, green house farming, and agriculture products to feed the hospital and ashram and also educate through programs for sustainability.

The cowshed project also fuels the bio mass gasification project that is saving 100% fossil fuel and powering much of the ashram. The Ashram runs a majority of their electricity from the extensive solar panel project all over the campus as well. Even the outside lights are equipped with panels. There are many solar cooking systems used also and a solar powered crematorium.

The Muni Seva Ashram is quite impressive in its programs and technology and is the result of the hard work and dedication of one woman, Anuben Thakkar who began the ashram in the 70s as a place to take care of children in need. Today it now serves as not only a hospital but has an orphanage, kindergarden, primary through higher secondary school, and now even has a nursing school. The work of one woman has grown into a community of people helping the sick, poor and uncared for and is a testament to the compassion and possibilities of humans caring for each other.

We are honored to spend out summer assisting in this incredible place. The adventure has just begun! Stay tuned.

 

Since my return I made this video for Dr.Interns. Enjoy!

Travel with a Purpose – A summer in India for Dr. Interns

Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences a person has in their life. Whether it is a family vacation, a semester abroad or a backpacking trip with friends, these experiences not only stay with us our whole lives, but shape who we are and how we see the world.

In today’s age we are lucky enough to have easy and affordable means of travel to just about anywhere in the world and with technology and the internet we can book these arrangements from anywhere with a press of a button. It is no doubt remarkable and in a lot of ways makes our planet a much smaller place. Where we could once only read about or see on a screen we can now visit ourselves, embarking on great journeys and having exciting adventures of our own.

It is a wonderful thing to see so many people of our time going out in to the world to see, touch, taste and experience first hand the wonders of different cultures and while it is breaking down barriers that once made us feel so different from one another, it is also an  opportunity for us to become better global citizens.

Our neighbors are not just the people on our street or in our city, they are in the bordering country or opposite continent where most of our products are produced and services provided. We depend on each other so much more than we realize, not just for business, but for assistance. There are so many organizations out there doing great things to assist our global neighbors in need and yet there is still a great need for more help.

Instead of just visiting these amazing places, taking cool photos in front of a monument or pristine nature scene, I have sought out to be an active assistant to the communities I visit. Even if it means collecting garbage from a popular hiking trail or beach, I want to be a positive impact, not just another tourist stopping by for a photo op. In each trip I take I look for a different cause I am passionate about and an organization I would be a good fit to volunteer with.

Dr. Interns is one of those organizations. With a mission of bringing sustainable healthcare solutions to very capable, developing parts of the world they are connecting college students interested in the medical field as well as travel to experiences in the world outside their own neighborhood. Dr. Interns is creating a new kind of world traveler; a traveler who is making a difference.

I am excited to begin my first experience of India, where I will be assisting with the marketing campaign for Dr. Interns at their first international program at the Kailash Cancer Hospital in Gujarat, India. I am joined by Ketan Patel, the passionate and intelligent organization director, and 15 incredible college students dedicating their summer to assisting at the hospital as well. We will be recording our story with the goal of inspiring many more to travel and to be active global citizens. Changing the world is easier than it looks. Don’t believe me? Try it.

-Lindsay M Hawley

Dr. Interns Marketing Director