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Reisverslag Fieldwork v1.0
3 december 2013
Since our bodies had some time to acclimate to the Indian lifestyle (sort of), yesterday it was time to start with our real fieldwork.
As you've maybe read last time, we had made a workplan for the coming couple of weeks. We want to observe first and then make a plan for prevention, awareness, hygiene and health. The organization decided to put what we had for two weeks, into one week, so this week will be a busy one.
Yesterday morning we visited a local high school and we sat down with the headmistress. We were kind of thrown in the deep, because the second we sat there Raj asked us: 'What do you want to do', while we thought we could just watch a class and observe. After a little discussion we agreed that we would give English lessons to the kids at 3'o'clock that afternoon.
From the school went for a 10-minute walk to the local Health Centre, where we were supposed to meet a nurse. Unfortunately it was closed: since there were no people visiting, the nurse decided to be somewhere else.
And that's how the Indian people make appointments: They tell you, 'come by tomorrow' and once there they tell you to come back later, or tomorrow, or they might not even be where you had agreed to meet.
So everytime Raj takes us somewhere, we just have to wait and see whether or not we can do the things we planned.
In the afternoon we went back to the high school to give our first English lesson. As we had no idea about the level of English, we were going to improvise a little bit.
I had decided to start with introducing myself in Tamil, the most common language in Trichy. It goes something like this:
'Empère jè Stephanie.
Na Hallènlè irènde waré.
Jennèkè iribatirèndé wa-issie.
Na ungelèkke English solitale por é.'
Ofcourse, the people here write in Tamil, so actually it was more something like this:
'என் பெயர் ஸ்டீபன் ஆகிறது.
நான் ஹாலந்து இருந்து தான்.
நான் இருபத்தி இரண்டு வயது தான் ஆகிறது.
நான் நீங்கள் ஆங்கிலம் கற்று போகிறேன.'
My accent was probably terrible, but the kids really seemed to like it. We had a bit of a tough start in the beginning, with figuring out what they did and did not know, but in the end we made it work. We taught them through games and competition and they were really active during the class.
When class was dismissed we went to a scavengers’ family. We had already seen them multiple times since their huts are on the way to our appartment. Once we were there they were all real friendly. They showed us their huts and we were also able to take a look inside. It’s a bit shocking to see the circumstances those people live in. They live in small, dark huts, of maybe 3m². Most of the time they live together with 4,5 or even 6 people. We talked to a woman who has been living in the same hut for over thirty years. She told us she came from Sri Lanka and got married when she was 15. With tears in her eyes she said that she came to India with the idea of freedom.
We asked them a couple of questions about hygiene and daily activities. For instance, there is a slow streaming water behind their huts. They bath there and do their laundry. Their trash they throw away just outside the huts. They land near or in the water. You can imagine that the water has a lot of bacteria in it and once the people use it for bathing it’s not good for their health. When they need to urinate or deficate they just walk a couple of metres away from their huts and do it there.
As you can see in the pictures, the situation they live in is for us - people who have a normal house, roof above our head, food in the fridge, streaming water, electricity, etc- unreal. I can only imagine having to live there for a week, let alone 30 years, or my whole life.
In the evening we were just having dinner while suddenly a couple of lizards crashed our party uninvited. Including their tail they were probably 10cm long, just walking around. Yikes. Unsuccesfully we tried to catch them/kill them, but I guess we'll just have to sleep with one eye open.
Today we went to the Goverment Hospital of Lalgudi block. This hospital is – as the name says – funded by the government. People don’t have to pay when they go here for treatment. The Lalgudi block consists of 45 villages and has a population about and around 100.000 people. Among the different villages in the block there are multiple health care centers, though this was the only government hospital. On an average day, there are 150 to 200 people who come visit the hospital. The longest distance people have to travel is about 20km. Most of the time they travel by foot or bike.
The hospital was really small and when we arrived there was a long waiting line. Some people working there lead us through the building and showed us the operation room, the dentist, injection room and the counselor’s room. In the Netherlands we only have one type of hospital so for us it’s was kind of unreal to see this. Though the people seemed to have a lot of knowledge about the communicable diseases, the accomodation looked really minimalistic.
When talking to the directress of the hospital, she told us that most of the time the people don’t tell what happened to them. The doctors don’t know the cause and therefore have trouble treating the disease. The people feel ashamed and don’t want to tell in fear of disgrace in the village. For that reason the hospital has a counselor who tries to make the people comfortable and to figure out the cause – once discovered they are better able to treat the disease.
We were also showed the pharmacy room. They provide and make alternative medicine for the people. In the Netherlands, the people have to pay for those drugs themselves, since the insurance only covers evidence based treatment. It was really interesting to see those medicine being made from scratch.
After our visit to the Government Hospital we went to a Private Hospital. The costs made here can be covered once people are insured. It wasn’t really a hospital but an ‘Advanced Fertility & Endoscopy Centre’. They focus on womens’ health and mostly on pregnancy and IVF-treatment. We were told that they deliver around 60 baby’s every month. We got a tour through the centre and saw that there was a big difference compared to the Government Hospital. First of all, the people coming here were middle- and upper-class, and it was recognizable through their clothes and hygiene. The accomodation also looked much more luxurious than the Government Hospital. During the tour, we saw a woman in labour, an ICU, a recovery room, and I was also able to view the room where they do the IVF-treatment. It’s really sterile and clean and looked really professional compared to the other rooms.
Since having children is an important aspect in Indian culture, people get mentally stressed when they can’t get pregnant. They treat an average of 5 to 6 women monthly to IVF-treatment, whereas the succes rate 30-40% is.
After enjoying our lunch - sandwiches, sausages & eggs - (including the REMIA WHISKEY COCKTAIL SAUS! we had just bought in the local supermarket) we had an appointment with a cremator.
The cremators of villagers are mostly people of the lowest caste. They are very poor, don’t have lot of money and the trade of work is passed down from generation to generation. The cremators are given food as a payment for their services. The side effect of being a cremator is more often than not that they are extremely heavy alcoholics as the work they do is very intense.
When we went to the cremation ground we noticed that there are three spots where people can get cremated. They are simply burned on the ground of the cremation spot. It really is difficult to get a sense of respect when you imagine that you give your loved ones this type of send-off. People don’t collect the ashes and put them in an urn. It seems the ash is left for the winds to carry.
The guy explained that he sleeps next to the burning body just in case the body does not burn well and he needs to add more sugar to the body or something like that. When a pregnant mother dies he cuts out the baby from the womb and burns the bodies together. We were pretty shocked when hearing this.
The cremator explained the cremation process to us in general and maybe later this week Bhavvik will be able to witness the full process of a cremation. (I am not allowed because it will be a Hindu cremation - and I'm not too sad about that)
All in all, a pretty rough couple of days. Tomorrow will be a slightly calmer day, we will interact with some health care providers such as a doctor, nurse, physiotherapist etc.
Stephanie & Bhavvik
Foto's bij verslag (10)
3 december 2013 15:15 | Door: Danny Elve
Zo, dat is allemaal best wel heftig als je de West-Europese normen gewend bent, maar absoluut ook erg interessant, dit is toch ook waarom je India gekozen hebt.
3 december 2013 16:05 | Door: Corrie
Hoi Stephanie en Bhavvik.
Met grote interesse gelezen wat jullie allemaal hebben meegemaakt.
\Voor ons westerlingen totaal niet te vatten hoe dat leven van die mensen in het echt er uit ziet.
Hoe is het mogelijk dat er zoveel help-organisaties zijn en niemand in staat is om die mensen een beter bestaan te kunnen bieden.
Ik ben in gedachten met een grote hark al die rotzooi bij elkaar aan het schrapen en de brand er in zodat ze leren zonder afvalbergen te leven.
Shocking hoe de cremators hun werk moeten doen en ik kan me het alcoholgebruik/misbruik hier bij goed voorstellen.
Leuk dat jullie ook al les gegeven hebben in de Engelse taal maar wat je daar in hun taal van neer schreef? Gooi dat maar in mijn pet hoor:-))
Gezellig dat jullie huisdiertjes hebben...hahahahahaa.. Die beestjes doen niks hoor.
Lekker laten zitten want ze zijn banger van jullie dan andersom.
tot de volgende keer....