Hope and Healthcare in South Asia

By Natalie Sarrett

“Hope is the most powerful word, and we are driven by it.”

That is what one Send Relief partner working in South Asia had to say about the often-exhausting task of working in a rural village hospital. Patients have to be carted to and from their appointments in sputtering minivans, and the journey often involves dodging herds of goats and potholes the size of water wells. And those are the fortunate ones who are able to find transportation to the clinic.

Many others must rely on the hospital staff’s visits to their villages for any semblance of medical treatment, so some go months with unaddressed conditions.

One villager, Sulima*, lived with lumps in her chest for several months before attending a screening held by Send Relief partners in her region. The doctor suggested she visit a hospital immediately, and thankfully, she complied and was told that the tumors were benign. She had been living in fear for the better part of a year when she received the news. Sulima shared, “I wanted to run, jump, scream and share the feeling with my husband and children. Along with me, they suffered too. Thank you! You gave me new life.”

A different vineyard worker has also benefitted from the hospital you helped establish. Raj* was suffering from the early stages of cancer. As a lifelong tobacco chewer, he couldn’t work a day in the fields without relying on tobacco for energy, but his cancer had progressed to the point where he could barely open his mouth and eating was a struggle. Recently, he attended a hospital workshop where he got a primary care provider, vowed to never use tobacco again and began doing daily mouth exercises. When our team returned for a recent visit, they were met by a rousing celebration. Raj’s wife was decorating the house with garlands as she told staff, “Today, we are celebrating the good health of my husband!” His children also joyfully told us about how excited they were to hear their father speak again without pain. Raj said, “Your medical camp detected my early stage of cancer, helped me overcome chewing tobacco and brought joy and peace to my family. You saved my life.”

The hospital trainings also help inform patients about other kinds of diseases, such as alcoholism and drug addiction. Send Relief partners were approached by a teenager, Peter*, who had lived his life in a haze up until one clinic. When he was sober, he earned a living by cutting eucalyptus trees, but when he returned home, he went into fits of rage targeting his wife and children. After attending our 10-day camp, Peter explained that he “was able to put everything together for the first time.” He continued, “At the end of the day, when I think back it seems so clear. This is what I wanted—a happy home and all that it represents: love, care, peace, squeals of laughter from my two children, sure feet on the ground, emotional and physical balance, pride and a sense of achievement and incredible happiness.” Today, Peter never misses work, is saving money for his family’s future and has put his children back in school.

Before Send Relief partners started the hospital and smaller clinics, the narrative they often heard from village women was: “I need to stand in line for my food rations, fetch water from the community well, find a way to pay rent and keep my alcoholic husband away from my children—when do I have time to care for my family’s health?” Now, by going the extra mile and bringing medical care to the people, we assure them that their lives are indeed more important than their household chores.

Thank you for standing with communities in the midst of healthcare crises. If you would like to support more people like this, give today at sendrelief.org/donate.

*Names have been changed for security purposes.

Published August 13, 2020