Features : A Mission To India


Global Finance charity partner Amrit Davaa spent two weeks in India providing healthcare to children at a remote orphanage and to locals. Editor Dan Keeler accompanied the medical team on its mission.

Dr Becki Giusti checks the vital signs of a Buddhist nun during the two-day medical camp that Amrit Davaa established in Tawang.

In the tiny Indian town of Tawang, which sits at 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, close to the borders of China and Bhutan, access to even basic healthcare is limited. The town’s hospital is understaffed and short on supplies—and more than two days’ walk from the remote rural settlements where many of the 40,000 people in Tawang’s catchment area live.

In late November and early December, however, a group of doctors and medical staff from the US-based healthcare charity Amrit Davaa spent almost two weeks in Tawang, providing healthcare and wellness education both to the people of the region and to the more than 100 children and staff at the Manjushree Vidyapith Orphanage.

While they were in Tawang, the doctors treated patients with a wide range of conditions—from such serious, life-threatening diseases as TB to less onerous, but still extremely uncomfortable, maladies such as gas. At the orphanage, many children were suffering from or were suspected of having mumps, and some were suffering secondary infections as a result of rudimentary efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

As well as providing primary care, Amrit Davaa’s doctors and other medical staff—which included four doctors from Kolkata’s medical college—spent time educating the children and staff about preventing disease and illness. They also gave the children new shoes and socks—many of them were barefoot—as well as towels, soap, toothbrushes and pillowcases.

In just nine days, the team was able to treat as many as 600 people from the surrounding area as well as the children and staff at Manjushree and a group of monks at Tawang monastery.

Amrit Davaa’s ultimate aim is to create a sustainable and self-reliant medical clinic at the orphanage. Having gathered a huge amount of data on the health of the region’s people, the team will return in late spring 2008 to perform follow-up treatments and begin setting up the clinic at the orphanage. Global Finance will be providing regular updates on the charity’s progress, both in India and in other countries in which it operates.

Amrit Davaa founder Dr Natalie Nevins treats a child suffering from cerebral palsy.
Harsh reality: The medical team was able to set up surgeries, such as this dental facility, in the classrooms at the orphanage.
Global Finance editor Dan Keeler at Manjushree.
Doctors from Kolkota’s medical college helped treat the children and local people.
Children with mumps had tape stuck on their cheeks in some cases causing further health problems.
Dr Dan Miulli examines a young girl during the medical camp in Tawang.
A local woman receives the second of a series of three injections to treat her vision disorder.

Dan Keeler