A graduate of Anantapur who now lives in the US and works as a hospital administrator, our observer was interested to visit a SSSEWWT medical camp. Here is the first part of her observations, informed by her work in the medical field and volunteering with NGO’s.
After going to the camp my impressions were that it was well-coordinated; it is responsive to the needs of the people being served; it is well stocked and the operations are smooth, and the staff is competent, invested and eager to serve. I felt their eagerness and genuineness in the way they were talking to people. They treated everyone with respect. They did not seem to get tired or impatient or upset with the people or the conditions. They were educating each person who came in.
I really felt the goals were being met 100%. Whatever is being done is on target.
To continue with my impressions, the villagers being served really accept the service. I have seen the problems NGO’s face in these villages, and it was clear these SSSEWWT medical camps are well known, accepted, trusted and well received by the villagers. The villagers are coming to the camps willingly and are compliant with whatever they are being told. I cannot really compare these camps with NGO efforts, because the feeling toward Swami, the love and trust on both sides, makes this effort so different. There is a deep-seated conviction by the sevaks that ‘I have to do this’, a drive to serve. Sai devotees are not asking anything in return.
All the people who are serving have such purity of demeanor. I watched them very closely. There was no harshness, there was no ‘I have to get this done and go’. I could feel how genuine they were. I was very touched. It makes me a little emotional actually – I could feel Swami’s work in their actions. And in the people who come, as well. It was very healing for me as well.
This is good work. I plan to go back and talk to my Sai Center and see if there is something like this we can do.
The core effort of the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust has been sending out mobile medical teams to the villages every month for the past eight years. The number of villages served in this way has grown from two in the first month to a total of 126.
To date there have been 1,299 of these medical camps. Currently, the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust is following a new model of service delivery in order to better serve the increased number of villages. Camps are now conducted at centrally located villages, termed ‘nodal villages’ and ladies from the surrounding villages congregate at the nodal village for medical care. Anywhere from 8 – 27 villages per camp are served in this way.
In the camps, the volunteer doctors from all over the country, and other medical staff, give checkups to women during and directly after pregnancy, and to their newborn infants during the first year of life. Up to the present, 31,119 prenatal checkups for mothers-to-be have been performed and 55,575 checkups for infants. Hundreds of postnatal checkups for the new mothers have also been provided.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are given out in the camps, along with Sai protein mix. Mothers-to-be are gifted with saris and hygiene kits, and their newborns are given a baby kit of clothes and other necessary items at the time of their first checkup.
Medicines are donated for those in need, and minor medical problems are also treated in the camps. More serious problems when identified are referred for medical treatment at the Sri Sathya Sai Hospitals.
For pediatric care, the doctors and nurses have extended their care beyond infants to young children above the age of one year. To date, 5,258 of these additional checkups for children ages one and above, were also performed.
The doctors who come from all over India to give their service in the medical camps also provide continuing education to village women about nutrition, health, childcare, and hygiene. Over the time the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust has been doing these camps, there has been improvement in the health and body weights of both mothers and infants.
Since its inception, the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust has donated and also coordinated in giving away charitable contributions through the medical camps and through functions in Sai Kulwant Hall. Up to the present, the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust has donated medicines and other items such as bicycles, saris, household goods, water filters, mixies, cows, hygiene kits, newborn kits, solar lamps, sewing machines, and Sai protein packets, in services that covered over 60,000 women and children.
In 2013 this service centered on kerosene stoves. As prices went up for cooking fuels in the last year, village ladies shared their concerns about this. In an effort to provide a clean source of heat for cooking, with a lower cost, and one that does not deplete local area forests, 1000 kerosene stoves were donated to qualifying (needy) ladies.
As part of the integrated Mother and Child program and keeping in view health and hygiene for mothers and children, a project to build indoor toilets for qualified village women at their homes has been undertaken. The purpose of this is to give the women privacy and safety, as well as more comfort and convenience, especially after giving birth.
An overwhelming response has come from candidates, in the form of applications with supporting documentation. About 200 toilets have been installed so far. The goal for the year is to install 1000 toilets. The submitted documentation is being verified and installations scheduled for the remaining 800 target beneficiaries.
These toilets are installed outside the home, in a separate room built for the purpose. These rooms are built of stone and cement brick, with an Indian style basin. All of the materials and the construction are given free of charge. After construction is complete, prior to the door being installed, the ladies come in to the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust offices to receive their keys. Most of the keys have been given into the hand of the ladies’ infants.
Applications for toilets are open to all qualifying ladies (not only medical camp participants) in the four mandals covered.
University scholarships in the form of fee reimbursement direct to the university accounts are being made available to qualifying girls from poor economic backgrounds. Open invitations have gone out for this assistance, and these scholarships are open to all.
Four scholarships have been granted so far. Two of the recipients are from Chitoor; both are pursuing BSc. Nursing at KKC College of Nursing. Two recipients are from Puttaparthi; both are pursuing B.Tech degrees, one at Madanapalli Institute of Technology, the other at Vivekananda Institute of Engineering and Technology for Women, Namakal.
The Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust supports the rural women getting skills in the ashram for their economic development, and coordinates its work with the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust in all aspects of training, placement, helping the devotees, and teaching them the concepts of seva and worship.
The Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust maintains administrative oversight offices above the North Indian Canteen inside the ashram. Planning, coordination and accountability of projects is centered here, along with outreach activities such as the journal Mother Sathya Sai and the Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s Welfare Trust website. More information, including videos, is available on this website.