TCEF’s 2012 service trip was a wonderful success. Our focus was on school nurse type health assessments which included vision screening hearing tests, heights and weights, general health questions and observations and the creation of individual health records. The vocational carpentry training and purchase of power tools, the soap making project, tailoring and cultural sharing were all important and successful projects we worked on.
A high point in our service work was visiting Dubdi Monastic School in Yuksom. TCEF has been providing funds for the lunch program since 2008. Last year we identified a young monk who was nearly deaf from chronic ear infections. We left some money for his anti biotics but knew the hearing loss was probably permanent. This year Paula tested his hearing, he didn’t hear anything in either ear. Paula had brought a portable hearing transistor. She gave it to the young monk and to everyone’s delight he heard for the first time in several years. What a moment! His smile and joy made us all cry. The hearing device cost $10!
We did heights and weights on the monks and they consistently were below international weight standards, but seemed relatively healthy. The lunch program continues to provides the most substantial meal of the day for them. A few of the kids needed reading glasses which we provided.
Our Australian friends had fund raised money through their Gembok Church to purchase 16 beds for the monks, this included mattresses, sheets, quilts and quilt covers and a pillow. The mattresses and quilts were all purchased in Siliguri, carried on top of our mini bus and carried up the mountain one by one to the monastery. This was another wonderful moment when the kids saw their beds. The monks were astounded! Such warm blankets and a pillow!
In Phadamchen at Sukhavati Hostel we were given a room to create a health care clinic. First we had to sanitize the room, pull out this huge funky burlap carpet, full of large intimidating spiders. WInter and her Mom Catherine took on this task and within 2 days we had a clinic.
We were open for business. We had purchased standard over the counter medicines in Siliguri, to stock the clinic. We had created medical records and began to interview the kids as to general health and health complaints. Each child had their photo taken so we could staple it on their medical record. Jeet Maya,a Sukhavati alumni translated for us as her english was quite good.
Generally we found the kids to be in fairly good health. All of the kids did fall significantly below international standards for weight. There was a significantly higher percentage of kids with vision problems and we identified poor dental care as a major concern. We were able to connect with a government dentist in Rongli (a town 2 hours away) and made arrangements for follow up dental care.
While in Kalimpong we visited the Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche eye hospital and have made arrangements for an eye camp in 2013. Reading glasses donated by TCEF supporters were given to those with reading difficulties and elders. We matched the strength with the person’s need as best as possible. We are continuing to analyze our findings and have not drawn any definitive conclusions but have implemented daily lemon teas for all students to provide much needed Vit C in their diet.
We have also funded a bi-annual deworming program according to Indian Health Standards. Water purification and hygiene are issues of continued concern. New tooth brushes, wash cloths, soap and toot pastes were given to each child. A puppet show on dental care was performed to the delight of the children. TCEF purchase 4 sinks and the necessary plumbing to be installed outside each toilet and the kitchen.
The vocational carpentry project was again a huge success. Through the donation of our supporters we were able to purchase many necessary power and non power tools along with a supply of wood for future projects. This year the boys made 5 book shelves and they now sit in the boys and girls dorm and the common room. They are filled with wonderful books donated and carried all the way from the USA.
Another very productive and fun project was soap making. Members of the service group taught how to make soap and did three demonstrations. We provided additional supplies for this to continue. Not only will this keep the hostel supplied with soap ,we also hope it can be sold and be a source of small income. We plan to follow up on this project with a small business model in 2013.
The tailoring project continued this year with the creation of a sewing club. The children made wonderful purses complete with straps and buttons. The tailoring project was taught by teachers who incorporated english language skills into the sewing room. Also included in our 10 days in Sukhavati Hostel were various art projects such as beading on looms, painting and drawing still lifes. A cultural presentation about Spain and Morocco was presented with a slide show, hot chocolate and a tasty treat of spanish olives and M&M’s. All the children were given Spanish names and boarding passes to attend. They were delighted.
Again, it was a very productive fun trip. The sharing of skills by the participants and the attentiveness , love and joy of the children made all of us feel grateful for this very positive loving connection. Thank you to EVERYONE>