Below are some exerpts from a journal kept by a Global Health Volunteer at FIMRC's India site during January 6 - 22, 2010: Day 2 Thursday, January 07, 2010
We arrived in Kodai at around 11am yesterday-after an almost 8 hour drive (!!!!). I really did not know the drive would be so long (Google Maps clearly failed us). The drive in itself was an experience, although for the first half of the drive, I pretty much slept. Sandra and the driver picked us
up from the Cochin Airport after a close to 3 hour flight from Mumbai into Cochin. This flight was of course preceded by a 14 hour flight from JFK to Mumbai (Bombay).
Day 3 Friday, January 08, 2010
So it was a good day. An interesting idea that I remember thinking about as I fell asleep was why does Kodaikanal get all of the help and attention that it gets, including from FIMRC, missionaries, and private investors? The town has one of the more reliable and safe water sources in the country; the children and women are not severely malnourished; the hospitals were not overly crowded or busy, reflecting a healthy society; HIV/AIDS and TB are not major epidemics; the air quality is decent, in comparison to the rest of the country; the town is dangerously difficult to access-why so much help and aid here, when there are definitely other parts of India with much more serious problems that need the attention as well? We concluded that the condition of the town, 20-30 years ago, before organizations like FIMRC and other private investors, were established, must have been very dismal. The decent and stable situation that
we are observing today, must be a result of the efforts of these concerned parties. Therefore, it was encouraging to think that the small efforts here and there do really add up to an improved population; knowing this definitely gives fuel to my interest in public health and toward helping populations reach stability.
Day 7 Tuesday, January 12, 2010
We did eventually head out to lunch and then KHMS. KHMS was exciting because we got there just in time to get ready to observe a Cesarean section birth, performed by the gynecogist/obstetrician, Dr. Linda. It was great!
We spent today doing house visits. We were out for most of the day. We went to six different homes and spoke with the women there about their families. We also used this opportunity to gather information for our nutrition project (which is moving about a bit slowly, I must admit :-/) . It was so interesting seeing the different women and their families and how they live.
Day 17 Friday, January 22, 2010
I really have enjoyed my experience here in Kodaikanal, India. I feel that I have learned so much and gained great perspective. I have always been inclined to volunteer and do service. But now I have learned that as great as it is to do service and to be enthusiastic about helping others, you are most useful and impactful when you can bring something to the people you are helping that they do not have,
particularly when working abroad and in developing nations where the majority of problems involve government, administrative, and policy issues, not necessarily a lack of people in the community who care and are enthusiastic to help. Being here has also allowed me to realize how much I would like to go to Nigeria, where my family is from, and to do similar work as we have done here, but on a larger scale with bigger impact. Overall, the trip was different from what I expected regarding the format of the program and how our project eventually took shape. It was also beyond my expectations when considering the beauty of the land and the people and how awed I have been throughout the trip with the rich culture of India. At the beginning of the semester, realizing that my time at Cornell would soon be coming to a close, I made it a goal to get up, and get out and travel, to experience more than myself and my small world. The idea of India was abstract, exotic, inspiring, yet far from real. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to come to Kodai and to see that idea not only come to life but to have a taste, a smell, a temperature. I cannot wait for the next opportunity in my life to transform from an abstract thought or idea into an actual experience with laughs, feelings, and memories. It truly is amazing.
-Chinomnso NnodumCornell UniversityFIMRC Volunteer in India, January 2010