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People's Environmental Awareness - Khati (PEAK) Follow PEAK with the financial assistance of World Nomads on the path to delivering educational, water supplies & solar home lighting systems to Kumaon villages....

More Khati ramblings & a mix of television 'soapies'

INDIA | Tuesday, 5 April 2011 | Views [531]

Uma, Pankaj & Dham

Uma, Pankaj & Dham

20th February

This morning was hectic. The first patient of the day was a young man who had walked from Waucham (5km) after he had put a barianch through his hand (a few days ago) resulting in a wound that needed attention and a serious infection travelling up his arm. He is of limited financial means so going to the hospital wasn't an option. Hospital bills can clean a family out of their entire savings. Last week Cloudi who had been suffering from heavy vaginal bleeding (that her first two trips to the Bageshwar hospital failed to deal with) was evacuated out to Almora Base hospital where she eventually had a hysterectomy. Her son and I were chatting today and he told me the full cost of the operation, medicine, food and hotel bill (for her husband) will be approximately 50 000 Rs. At the current rate of the Australian dollar that puts the bill at $1000 AUD, an enormous emount by Indian standards and out of the financial reach of many. The World Health Organisation estimates that 39 million Indians are pushed below the poverty line every year through paying the high cost of health care.

The community also faces the health ramifications of chronic dental issues. We regularly see people of all ages - young children upwards - with teeth literally rotting out. No doubt for the younger generation this is a multi-faceted problem. Nutrition from childhood is poor (high sugar diet - sugar by the handful out of the cannister, biscuits, toffees etc), lack of calcium, no flouride, limited tooth brushing etc. The pain that both children and adults put up with as their teeth rot out is incredible. PEAK is going to endeavour to organise a 'dental camp' in the future.

Hemanti is two years old, cute and strong willed but unfortunately is nearly deaf, cannot talk and has learning issues. Today she did a 'runner' from her home and came barreling up the path (we live at the other end of town from her house) and with arms outstretched leapt onto me. Hemanti's mum and dad have four children under 10 years old - one boy/three girls - with the last two girls not wanted at all. As a result her sister Chandani (10) unfairly bares the brunt of her care but in normal childhood fashion often gets 'waylaid' when playing with other kids. Chandani had panicked when she realised Hemanti had disappeared, but the beautiful thing in Khati is that villagers look out for each other and within ten minutes of her disappearance the community grapevine had conveyed she was in safe hands. The workload Chandani carries between domestic duties and Hemanti's care is huge with the freedom of childhood rapidly vanishing but she still manages to have a good attendence rate at school.

Thanks to a long stretch of cloudy days (and the panic that sets in when the lights go out?!) we have been charging some Solar Home Lighting Units from PEAKs larger battery system that has been installed for multi-purpose village use, library lighting and eventually for Library computers. This has added to the visitor loading to our building as people bring up their batteries for re-charge. A teacher fro Jacuni popped in a few minutes ago under the pretext of having her sons chronic case of impetigo checked out but I think the real reason was to ask for a Solar Home Lighting System!

The new Solar Home Lighting Project continues to cause angst. So much so it is almost difficult to know where to begin on the issues...

The new craze in town anongst the boys is to fashion a bat out of wood (exceptionally inventive) and come up to our place to have their names proudy emblazoned on the bat in thick black texta (though some have preferred 'Sachin' or 'Dhoni' on their bats!). Indians love cricket, the boys of Khati are no exception and have a couple of pitches in fields around town to play on. TV matches are watched with glee. The seductive nature of television is all pervasive. Apart from cricket matches the other eagerly awaited event is sitting in front of the nightly serials (of which there are many) and with so many satellite stations to choose from the average nightly viewing doesn't finish till 11pm. The influence of 'soapies' has been tremendous and is shaping the villagers world view. The potent force of advertising has seen all Khati men purchase Nokia phones thanks to the marketing power of Nokia who dominate the airwaves during prime viewing time. And 'fair & lovely' cream has made its way to the town's small shops....



Tags: cricket, hospital bills, indian serials, khati village life, television



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