By Operations Director Rod Pereira
A recent extension of CSM’s activities in Kolkata is the exciting addition of the Health and Medical Screening Project which is being run in conjunction with the Ear Science Institute of Australia (ESIA). This project primarily involves identifying, within a defined population, those with ear or hearing problems, in order to identify the possibility of premature hearing loss.
CSM believes this project to be extremely worthwhile as even the smallest level of hearing disability has proven to impede upon an individuals potential to achieve at their optimal level. At this stage we are mainly concentrating on children as we wish to maximise the functioning of the children, particularly within the school environment as we believe education is a fundamental stepping stone towards breaking down the cycle of poverty.
CSM is lucky to have the services of Niamh, an experienced administrator from Ireland who coordinates the Medical and Health Screening Project in Kolkata and will step into my shoes whilst I am on break in Australia. In early May Rick Ferdinands, CSM Chairperson and Rob Eikelboom one of the very clever scientists from ESIA visited Kolkata to set up the Medical Screening Project and train the CSM team on how to use the ear testing equipment.
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To date we have been able to test some street children who attend the schools of Don Bosco Ashalayam, Loreto Day School Sealdah and Loreto Entally. These wonderful organisations provide education facilities, amongst other things, for the underprivileged of Kolkata. Our preliminary findings were not too surprising and confirmed that living on the streets with inadequate hygiene and nutrition can result in ear problems ranging from minor treatable conditions to severe damage of the ear drum.
This project is quite labour intensive as it takes time to firstly (with the help of teachers) record a brief health history of each child, next we conduct a hearing test then we photograph each child’s ear drum and lastly compile the findings into a report. The results for each child are given to the school’s administration so these children can then be specifically treated. A big part of this project is to demonstrate that prevention is better than cure and from our results we found many of these problems once treated at an early stage could prevent more serious problems in the future.
During the set up of this new project, Rick was able to take the opportunity to visit CSM’s Mobile Medical Clinics that CSM operated at the time, the Food Programme projects and also to meet with the people CSM are sponsoring. Rick was able to experience first hand the wonderful work being carried out by our dedicated Kolkata team and to see how your generosity is benefiting the needy of Kolkata.
On our Food Program project in the Topsia area, I am proud to say we have increased the number of people we feed. This in turn provides work for the local people who help in the preparation and distribution of the food parcels.
This achievement is mainly due to the effort of the Kolkata CSM team namely Paul, Nadim as well as a very valuable member of our volunteer team Sam. Due to the massive numbers of the needy and our small available budget, the team must interview and prepare case histories of those people to be added to our food programme. Our selection criteria is of course for the most needy but determining just who is the neediest is heart wrenching.
This year we have seen many regular patients on our Mobile Medical Clinics who once suffered with severe wounds but have now started to show vast improvement and healing. This is so encouraging for me and the volunteer medical team as all the effort we put into maintaining regular treatment and hygiene education has paid off for these particular cases.
At Dhapa Durgapur Village where we run one of our clinics, unbelievable amounts of the city’s refuse has just been dumped into their fields just when it is time for the fields to be prepared for the coming monsoons.
It is an over whelming sight to see men, women and children carrying this refuse in order to mix it into the earth. This compelling scene before my eyes lead to the realisation that it won’t be long into the monsoon season before we will again, be inundated with people coming into our clinic’s suffering from infected wounds and their resulting illnesses.
The month of June brought with it a late summer heat that even left the hardened locals complaining. Spare a thought for those in the slums who line up for water from a common point and must carry their daily supply back to their home; those living on the streets where water isn’t accessible by the turn of a tap who must wait at certain points around the city for the water to be turned on by the authorities.
I am however fortunate to be returning home to Australia for my rest and to do a series of school presentations so I look forward to maybe meeting with some of you and to share some of my experiences first hand.
Whether you have journeyed from all points across the globe to volunteer your time to help administer to the needy in Kolkata or you made a donation to our charity or have supported our fundraisers, THANK YOU for your support.