It all started with a fall.
Sunita, carrying her four month new daughter Drishya, was walking down the moss filled stony path leading to the road when she suddenly slipped. She fell with the little girl in her hand, and both injured their head-a bit severely. Right next to the place of their fall were few people who saw it. They rushed to the mother and daughter and after the essential first aid they took them to the nearest doctor- 13kms away. “Ridiculous!” said one of the men, “we need a hospital here, at least a primary medical center, it can save many lives.” The other men agreed. They were all ‘yuvacharyas’ of the YLTP.
In the beginning of 2012, a Primary Health Center was set up in Sunita and Drishya’s Kannavam, a tribal area in the district of Kannoor, Kerala. It was a collaborated initiative of YLTP Kerala and Kannoor Medical College, and the building was given to them by the Tribal Department. The health center lies in the center of Kannavam, in the midst of lush green. A misty water fall adds to the panorama. Filled with coconut, rubber, jackfruit and mango trees, this tropical tribal village is beautiful, a glimpse of why it is called ‘God’s own country.’ I was sure going to have an enriching experience.
The place was buzzing with people. Women with their children, men with their mothers, kids from a nearby tribal school in their blue uniforms, young, old and the ones in the middle—all present, to get themselves checked. Doctors and medical students scurrying with boxes of medicine, yuvacharyas passing chairs, water and tea and giving tokens with numbers for check up—the place looked nothing like a primary medical center, it looked more like a fair of some sort.
I managed to steal Dr. Vivek (the senior doctor) for sometime to speak to him. “We have a general physician, a pediatrician, a gynecologist and few interns in our team,” he explains with a handsome smile. “Not many major diseases here, just chronic illnesses like joint and pack pain and thyroid problems. Pregnancy related issues are also quite often. The surroundings are amazingly clean, so hygiene related diseases are a very rare occurrence.”
This health center has come as a blessing to the 400 families that live in and around Kannavam. The services and the medicines are free of cost, the doctors are good and with the medical support they also educate the patients and visitors on basic health related issues. Almost 200 people have done the Rural Part 1 and the DSN workshops of The Art of Living. “This particular area needed our intervention,” says Shobin, State Coordinator YLTP Kerala, “especially because of the dreaded habit of alcohol and tobacco. “We started with a dental camp in 2011, in which 250 people were present. That was the day Sunita and her daughter fell and injured their head. Because of that fall, today we have this amazing center, and this team of doctors come everyday and serve the people, with just one desire—to serve.”
The YLTP is undertaking serious social projects all over the country, most of the time oblivious to the mainstream. Working with the indigenous people of the nation they are in fact strengthening the nervous system of our nation, and what better approach than a spiritual one?
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Writer: Eben Felix, Graphics: Gurudatt Anvekar