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.
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!