Smiles and waves from children peeking out of windows. A quiet, modest smile from an elderly lady walking down the street. Energetic smiles from teenagers hanging out of a bus. Shy, grateful smiles from those that received help from the Compassion Services International (CSI) medical humanitarian team. It is no mystery why this place is affectionately termed “The Land of Smiles.” Everywhere you turn, smiles greet you. It is how people are taught to live, to treat others, and to see the world around them. However, behind these beautiful smiles many are facing hardships, struggles and serious needs.
In South Asia, governments are making great strides in the areas of education and healthcare. However, as they grow and expand, there remains limited access for many due to cost and geography. The average income is still quite low, and many people live at or below the poverty line. Families will concentrate healthcare expenditures on children and for emergencies. Preventative healthcare is simply not a viable priority for most. Furthermore, those that live in rural areas have far fewer options for healthcare providers and longer distances to travel to medical facilities.
Compassion Services International sent a medical humanitarian team from North America to South Asia at the end of June through the beginning of July. The North American team was composed of registered nurses, a physician, administrative personnel and other volunteers. Volunteers from South Asia included church leaders and members, a physician, nurses, logistical help, translators and more.
On location, the medical team partnered with local community workers to deliver medical screening and health education at three different locations. Medical literature/handouts and multivitamins were distributed as well as reading glasses to those in need.
The World Health Organization recommends screening and education as the most effective approach to short-term medical humanitarian work. The safest interventions and the largest impact can be made on trips that implement this approach, and CSI is striving to provide quality humanitarian care accordingly.
Also, a local physician met with the CSI team prior to and worked with the CSI team during the event. He provided invaluable information about regional diseases, culturally accepted practices, and more. With his aid, the team could also connect patients with long-term follow-up when that was indicated.
Recipients and volunteers alike thanked the team over and over. To emphasize their gratitude, people wanted to share the needs of their country that they had experienced themselves or seen in their family and friends. Across the board, individuals were eager for and receptive to any and all help provided to them, especially the one-on-one medical education.