Monday, March 11, 2013

Final thoughts on our 2013 visit

In February, 3 members of FOV spent a wonderful week in Vellore
looking at all the amazing work that takes place there done by some
incredible, inspirational, dedicated people and teams. One of those
days was spent at RUHSA which is the extraordinary multi-disciplinary
rural health & social welfare department about 30km outside CMC in KV
Kuppam. Covering an area of 200,000 people, RUHSA works on a multitude
of different projects to improve the local community from providing a
small local hospital, outreach clinics, preventative medicine and
educational programs, training local boys in auto maintenance, setting
up & supporting self-help groups; and those are just the ones that FOV
is not directly involved in!

We in FOV are delighted to provide support for a range of diverse
projects at RUHSA. We worked with them to set up their flagship
elderly welfare centres which provide welcome havens of friendship &
support, as well as a delicious meal made by local women who are keen
to become involved & raise the issue of elderly care within their
community. The FOV-supported occupational therapist has started income
generation projects in all centres so the participants can raise small
amounts of money for themselves by making paper bags which are then
used in the college shop on Bagayam campus.

The first centre opened in January 2007 and the fifth centre, funded
by FOV Sweden has just opened in January 2013. RUHSA hope to
proliferate these simple, but effective models throughout the area.
This year we were told of one of the participants, a lady who has
no-one and nothing in her life except a small bag she hangs from a
tree under which she sleeps each night. Her time spent surrounded by
other members of her community, chatting and being included gives her
such pleasure, that every morning she is waiting at the door of the
centre hours before it opens.

Raising the profile of the elderly centres is always a priority for
FOV as we are so aware of the increasing burden of ill health this
sector of society bears and other work we support helps to improve
family finances in the poorest groups so that they can afford to look
after all their family members, but also some of the money generated
can be recycled back in into the elderly welfare projects. This year
we are supporting a pilot stall fed goat scheme. We are funding the
building of a goat stall which can more intensively rear goats for
better profit margins. We visited an organisation in the Javardi Hills
who have a similar project & we were impressed with the set up. The
stalls are airy & light, the goats are allowed to roam free for a
couple of hours a day and they are fed well. RUHSA hopes that this
will generate personal & project incomes as well as becoming an
exportable model for other SHGs.

This year, RUHSA made a further proposal looking at another difficult
group, the local village youth, who often become rootless & aimless,
reducing their future prospects. This year, they are looking to
develop sports clubs in the local villages to encourage youngsters to
take part, have fun & feel part of a community. With FOV support they
will provide simple sports equipment for several villages and every
year, there will be a sports tournament organised at RUHSA in order to
give the lads something to work towards & achieve. Next year perhaps,
some FOV members can present the first RUHSA trophy to the winners!

It is always such a privilege to see first hand the work done out in
India, the level of expertise & experience is extraordinary; their
vision about their local community’s better future is inspirational
and I hope this newsletter gives at least a flavour of what takes
place. I would urge anyone to visit and see for themselves.

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