Saturday, 5 December 2015

First day of health placement in India

PROJECT: Health care
WRITTEN BY: Riona Ashworth O'Callaghan

As we round another corner, we all eagerly look to see the signs.
"Palampur? Is this the right stop or is it the next one or even the next?"
Once at the volunteer house, we meet Bobby who allows us all to take a breath as we have made it safely to our destination!

The volunteer house is beautiful, bordered by the Himalayas and surrounded by lush greenery - it's like something you’d see on a postcard or tourism brochure. Compared to Delhi, the air is heaven to our lungs!

We slid into a routine easily. This is how it went:

7am: Rise and shine to get ready for placement. A few of us pop outside to watch the sunrise over the mountains or to do some light exercise on the rooftop.

8am: Breakfast. This was my favourite time of the day in India. We had choices of toast, porridge, cornflakes, eggs, fruit and freshly made chai by Joginder in the kitchen.

8.20am: Off to the bus station where we catch a bus to Palampur township and walk to our placements. On the second day, we accidentally caught the wrong bus and, despite being cheaper, the usual 10 minute ride took around half an hour. On the plus side we got to see the rural side of Palampur that we hadn't seen before!

9am: Begin placement. Lucky for me, my original placement was based directly across from the bus station, so my journey to and from placement was quick hop and a jump over the road.

From 9am til around 2pm: Continuous consultations about a range of conditions. In Palampur, the primary conditions are hypertension and type-2 Diabetes so knowledge about these conditions is very beneficial while on placement. The placements were very welcoming of us all and there is a vast amount to learn over the four weeks.

2pm: Most of us finish placement around 2pm, so some explore a bit of Palampur, do some shopping (especially for toilet paper - a rarity in India), practice Hindi with the locals, avoid the local dog population (despite how cute the puppies are), and some of those chocolate biscuits before heading to the bus station and asking the bus driver to take us to "ARLA?" (our local bus stop).

Once back at the house, we all do as we please; we debrief from placement, read books, play badminton, write in our journals, soak up the sun of the roof, go for walks, shower, tidy and -majority of the time - eat.

6.30pm: Dinner is served thanks to Joginder in the kitchen, and we all sit around the dining table and discuss whatever comes up. Our first night, we discussed our plans for the upcoming weekends and had some Hindi lessons with Bobby which was a great help as we now know some basics for placement such as: "Beemar" = sick and "Dura" = pain

Around 10pm: We all retire to our rooms and hit the hay in order to wake up for the next day of what Palampur has to offer!

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