Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I've had a sensible request about explaining some of the abbreviations and terms used here. Of course, I have been jotting things down for (amazingly) 4 years now and so forget that terms familiar to me may be completely obscure to others. If there is anything else needing explanation, comment on this post and I will add to it as I shall refer to this post whenever there are loads more terms. I expect there is a neater way of doing it, but the dust is in my wiring and I can't work it out.

RUHSA: Rural Unit for Health & Social Affairs. This is where I have been staying all this time whenever I come out. It is a campus 30km outside Vellore a city in S India. It is a department of the CMC and provides health care through outpatient clinics, hospital care, community clinics and nursing services. It also provides training in development for local people to learn skills such as air conditioning servicing, 2/3/4 wheeler mechanics and other vocational courses to improve employment prospects. It is also a training centre for student nurses and intern doctors.

CMC: Christian Medical College. An enormous tertiary hospital and medical college in Vellore, originally started in 1901 by an American woman called Ida Scudder. See link opposite and also http://belons.blogspot.com/2006/09/project.html for the whole story. It's quite amazing.

SHG: A self help group. These are government recognised groups of women who work together in a micro-business model. They must have a bank account and keep clear accounts and then they are eligible for funding from the government to start a micro-business. SHGs are designed to empower women and only allow women members. Sometimes, you hear the men moaning that there is nothing similar for them, which is true, but there is still sufficient inequality that they are still, in general, better off. In KVKuppam block, which is the catchment area of RUHSA the SHGs are highly valued, both by the community and RUHSA. There are over 350 active groups known to RUHSA alone in the region, which has a population of 120,000 and each group can have around 15-30 members, so there are many, many women who belong to an SHG. The canteen and the waste management scheme at RUHSA are two prominent micro-businesses run extrememly efficiently by SHGs. Of course at least 4 EWCs are also run/to be run by SHGs.

EWC: Elderly welfare centre.

CHEW building: Community health education and welfare centres. These are buildings built by RUHSA over 30y ago in the villages in order to hold health or development clinics or provide health education in the villages, enabling them to disseminate health messages or health care deep to rural parts of KVKuppam block. We have renovated 3 buildings, as many of them had not been maintained sufficiently over the years, and are using them for the EWCs.

Anything else you need to know, let me know.

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