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Visit to IIMC Kolkata in January 2019

Written by Kathy O’Dair

This was my first trip to India and experience of the IIMC mission in action. I travelled with Ivy Silk, the UK Coordinator and her daughter, Jane a good friend of mine. Jane and I work as practice nurses and we were keen to build on previous trips partnering with the Indian nurses and international volunteers working in the clinics, also making contact with some of the UK-sponsored children and to see some of the women empowerment projects in rural India.

The main clinic at Tegharia  runs twice a week and has dental care, eye care, anti-natal care, a baby nutrition programme, gynaecology, general practice and a busy pharmacy. It was great to see over a thousand patients being treated for their various health needs and also some health education taking place. For example, the patients with skin conditions were given soap and instruction of how to use it and the dentist was giving out toothbrushes and toothpaste to his patients. Jane and I were focusing on health and safety and reducing the risks of infection for patients and volunteers. We encouraged the nurses and volunteers in basic cleaning, using the sharp bins effectively and we also designed a tabard (see photograph of us wearing it) to be worn by the volunteers to protect them from infection

Wearing the tabards we designed

I was very impressed by the sponsorship programme. It not only benefited the sponsored child  but it also had a positive impact on the whole family.Through sponsorship the child is educated, has a meal a day and access to health care, if needed. We had the pleasure of visiting some of the sponsored children in their rural homes and meeting their families. We experienced an amazing welcome and it was evident that this programme has a really positive impact. One older teenager is studying to get accepted for studying medicine and when we arrived, she was teaching a couple of younger children from the village. We also managed to give gifts and letters from the UK Sponsors to their children and it was a real privilege to be able to give 4 bikes to some of the children that needed them to get to school.

Jane and I had a trip to Dukerpole and then on to Dhaki . Travel to get there included train, boat, truck, back of a push bike and tuk-tuk, we survived to tell the tail, but it was quite an experience! In Dukerpole we visited the IIMC school and shared some songs and dancing with the children and we met up with 2 sponsor boys. The following day we headed on to Dhaka this is a very rural isolated community near the Bay of Bangal.

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The Dhaki centre is efficiently managed by Shamal who  has a real vision for the place. There is a outdoor clinic , indoor ward,  a woman’s enrichment centre and a school. We attended a woman’s peace council meeting. The woman meet daily for 2 hours to study the news and health magazines and to report back what they have learnt to their community. There is also a well-established cow project, a successful microcredit bank for woman. We met 3 woman who have set up businesses with the assistance of the microcredit bank, one has a tea shop, one makes pottery and the third runs a general store. These women were inspiring to meet, empowered and definitely contributing positively to their community.

It was a fascinating and informative trip for me, the IIMC projects are going well and the Indian volunteers were committed and empowered under the enthusiastic inspirational leadership of  Dr Sujit and Barnali. The mission projects are having a real impact in educating and empowering the poor in West Bengal but there is still lots of opportunity to get involved. If you want to partner with this organisation there is opportunities to sponsor children that are awaiting sponsorship, finance a toilet for a family or a clean water pump for a community. Do contact the IIMC UK Coordinator for more details.