The latest from India – Jan/Feb 2020!

Written by our India Team

Palampur welcomed the new
year with two groups of
volunteers. 11 young women
joined the hub from all across
Australia, coming together for
two weeks to deliver health
and community programs in
two of our partner schools.

The volunteers were greeted by wintery weather and snowy
mountain peaks. All agreed that the cold was worth it as the
views in Palampur at this time of year will take your breath

In addition to their school-based program, volunteers
engaged in a range of cultural activities including paragliding
in nearby Bir, exploring Tibetan culture in Dharamsala; home
to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in Exile. They also
celebrated Australia Day and Indian Independence day on
January 26 with a bonfire at the volunteer house.

Community Challenge Highlights

This month’s Community Challenge group was small in size with only two members, but large in enthusiasm and impact. The two volunteers were
placed in Shri Chamunda Senior Secondary School where they focused on conversational English. Both volunteers reported that they saw an improvement in students’ confidence and ability after just two weeks of delivery. They also completed a small renovation project, leaving the school with a lovely mural and a lasting impression.

Health Promotion Highlights

Our Health Promotion volunteers were hard at work, covering a range of health related topics over their two weeks at Neel Kamal Public High School. Focus areas included first aid, general health and sanitation, mental health and wellbeing, and road safety. The volunteers piloted a health survey with students and their families, collecting important health data that will be used to inform the design and implementation of future health related programs in the area.

Volunteers also donated a range of sports equipment and painted a
mural above a recently completed hand washing station, officially dedicating it to the school on behalf of the Future Sense Foundation. The bright and colourful hand washing station is centrally located in the school’s main courtyard, encouraging students to wash their hands before and after breaks. We also hope that by practising healthy habits at school, students will positively influence their families and community to do the same.

In addition to their time with our partner school, the health group also visited the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre; a rural primary health facility, and the Vivekananda Medical Institute & Multi-Speciality Hospital, where they explored the differences in health services between Australia
and India. The volunteers were especially excited to visit the maternity ward, neonatal intensive care unit, emergency department and pre and post operative wards at the Vivekananda institute.

These two hospital visits also gave volunteers the opportunity to understand the challenges of providing quality healthcare to India’s diverse population. While urban hospitals offer first class facilities and medical care to those in the city, India’s rural population often cannot access such services. Through
their visit to the rural health centre, volunteers learn about Ayushman Bharat Yojana; a Government initative designed to provide universal health coverage, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Health volunteers were treated to a grand send off by their host school and all volunteers were presented with commemorative plaques by our Country Director, Col. Ravi Sharma so they will always remember their time with us in Palampur.


Meet the locals – Kimba and his crew

This month hub volunteers and staff
have been excited to meet a new
pack of 8 puppies who have been
living with their two mumma dogs in
the local park near the office.

The pups are incredibly friendly and
are well taken care of by the
community who bring food each
night to make sure they don’t go
hungry. Our office dog Jimmy has
also taken a liking to one of the
pups who we have affectionately
named Kimba..

Our 2020 Vision!

This year the India hub is looking at how we grow our impact. We will have a strong focus on strategic program design and development and look forward to strengthening our pre-existing partnerships to reach our full potential for delivery, while also exploring new areas of growth.

Potential focus areas include sustainability and environmental protection, women’s health and wellbeing, linking education with livelihoods development and exploring how we reach other sectors of the community, outside of our long-standing school-based partners.

There are many exciting opportunities on the horizon, so watch this space!

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