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India, Part 3

Well, it’s been one week since Bette and I returned from India on our medical mission with Chapel Missions India, and I just want to say, we are sooooo thankful to be home. We love to travel and we love the people we meet abroad, but every trip gives us new reasons to be thankful we live in America.

This trip was characterized by…well, traveling. Unlike years past, the budget did not allow for flights to and from the camp location in Nazareth, so once in India, we took one 16 hour train ride there and another 16 hour train ride back. Put that on top of two 12 hour flights each way, and my butt was seriously flat. It was good to get on my feet and get to work.

Because of how long it took just to travel to the location, we could only actually hold the medical camp for three days. During that time, our team saw approximately 1,400 patients (that makes a typical work week in a posh medical office seem like Disneyland). Myself and the other physical therapist treated 130 people. We taught stretching and strengthening exercises, proper body mechanics for lifting, and some basic first aid and CPR, but much of what we did was simply to provide mobilization aids (for which there is a great need). The camp distributed 80 walkers, 120 canes, 8 pairs of crutches, and 10 wheelchairs. Then the last day of camp was dedicated to over 160 “Special Children” in the village, including HIV patients and orphans. We tended to their medical needs, fed them lunch, and gave them blankets.

This trip also was a bit different in that we started building bridges with leprosy communities. Leprosy is still alive and strong in India, and while the fortunate might end up in a leprosarium (a leprosy hospital), most of the afflicted live away from the rest of society. Segregated and without access to any basic care, they simply care for each other and can be somewhat suspicious of outsiders. Our trip included a few “meet and greets” with some leaders in the leprosy community to see what their needs are and if we might be able to help in future trips.

Of course, the highlight of these trips for Bette and I is always our visits with our sponsored son, P. Ram Kumar. Ram Kumar is now in his last year of secondary education (Indian schools go through the 10th grade), and after graduation, he plans to go to school to become a doctor. We brought him a soccer ball so he could have something to share with his friends, and we were told by one of the orphanage workers that that made him quite the popular young man among the boys living at the Home of Hope.

Thank you to everyone who sent their thoughts and prayers to us during our medical mission. Your support is priceless, and we can’t wait to pay it forward on next year’s trip! Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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