Joe and Lotte at Sambhavna

Joe and Lotte at the Sambhavna clinic in Bhopal, India


Ask us anything!  
Blog 6 
So our last day at Sambhavna, feeling sad to be leaving,  there’s still so much to do and learn, though having said that we  definitely have a sense of achievement: We made a quick virtual tour  earlier this week, managed to compile all staff portraits and  information, finished our ethics essay, and did further write ups on our  stay, as well as get 6hours of film footage, oo and showered garden in  the monsoon yesterday, phew. … Firstly some medical things. We did a mini survey while in Dr Wazeem’s  clinic. It was quite interesting to see why patients weren’t taking  their medicines. Here are the results:   Reason for Non- compliance	Tally	    Addiction Fear	III	    Poor Education                                                               - Complicated drug regime                                            -Difficult to explain how drugs work, so patient has little             faith in them.	II	    Nature of person – doesn’t like to take the medicines	II	    Inconvenient – lives far away from the clinic and taxi costs	II	    Contact with “quacks” – (non registered people practising medicine) They  would encourage patients just to take their medicines and in the  process line their pockets 	I	    Travelling away from Bhopal – can’t get medicines. 	I	  Out of the 40 or so patients 11 of those were non-compliant – this was a  bad day for it though! Of particular concern was the issue with “quacks.” These hoax physicians  set up clinics or surgeries which promise the patient a cure for their  illness, in just a few short weeks; if they take the very expensive,  often ineffective medicine. One patient had a problem with his knee  joint. He went to a Quack, who told him he needed an X-ray, then a CT  scan- which he payed for. He was then given some expensive medicine,  that didn’t work, lastly he was told he would need an operation, for  which a huge sum of money would be required. At this point he came to  Sambhavna, and for free he was able to get instant relief from Ayuvedic  medicines, so much so he was walking unaided in 3 days.  Addiction fear was quite a big issue, many patient don’t want to end up  dependant on the drugs, which is quite understandable. This is different  with something like diabetes, however, where medication compliance is  essential to reduce the long term risks of high blood sugar. Another area of interest we spent some time on was women’s health.   There are a number of diseases that contamination with Methyl Isocynate  seems to induce. We already mentioned endocrine disorders, such as  diabetes and high blood pressure. In women’s health the endocrine  disorder seen is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It create a hormone  imbalance where patients suffer from infertility, an-ovulation (no egg  maturity and release), obesity, diabetes and excess androgen  (masculinizing hormone.) Clearly a very distressing disease,  particularly the infertility which can causes great emotional and social  unhappiness. The current gynaecologist is new to the clinic, but was  struck by the large numbers of PCOS she was seeing. It seemed to be much  higher the their usual prevalence of 5%, she is currently compiling a  list of all her PCOS patients, so hopefully Sambhavna can learn more  about why MIC exposure seems to be creating this.  We learnt a little about Obstetric practice in India. We went to visit a  government hospital and were quite shocked at the bareness and  brutality of the obstetric ward. However, this is the better option for  many women as the DAI (midwives) who work in the communities will not be  well qualified. Furthermore they get payed by baby delivered, so when a  baby is failing to progress, instead of sending for an ambulance to get  to hospital, they will want to deliver the baby; alive, dead or  damaged. India now actually has a scheme which gives a financial reward  of Rs2000 (about 25-30pounds) if a women comes to hospital to give  birth. This is to try and reduce child and maternal mortality. Despite  all this there is a strong tradition of giving birth at home, and many  women would be too afraid to go to Government hospitals, with their  frightening reputation for death as well as charges.      Moving on, we at last decided to face the culprit of the Bhopal  disaster; the Union Carbide factory itself. It is truly as sinister as  you might imagine. A twisted, eroded, contorted, structure; gas  cylinders and metal cage frames collapsing slowly into the putrid dust.  The smell, with a metallic taste in the back of your throat and the  immediate nausea the site induced was a real shock. You could feel it  from the adjacent colony we had been working in, but as you got onto the  grounds it was over powering. We walked straight from our community  project, passed one extra line of shacks, through a short, well trodden  mud path and were there. A collapsed wall welcomed us in with no  restrictions or hazard signs. There were two guards which actually live  permanently on site, inside the buildings. As we visited they were  hanging there washing up on top of a central building which seemed such a  bizarre normality to witness in the midst of a catastrophe site. At the  now blurred factory/community boundary families collected soil and  water whilst goats grazed in and amongst the rusted tanks, stacks and  silos. Another cruel joke gripped us when the community workers  explained that the Hindi for this colony was “Beautiful” and as we  dwelled on this children ran off, into the greenery that surrounds some  of the site, to play.  Heading back down a road which ran parallel with the factory boundary  we came upon a young man pumping hard to get some water for cooking from  a well. Stopping to smell the water, a chemical toxic aroma hit us, it  was just unbelievable that the people here had to use this water. We’d  earlier heard a story from a mother with a terrible dilemma. The clean  water that is meant to be provided for the effected area had not been  delivered in 8days. She therefore had to choose to either let her  children die of dehydration or make them drink the toxic water.  In a way the people are in denial about the toxic water, they just get  on with life and enjoy themselves, they don’t want to have to think  about being poisoned all the time! However as time goes on, the  chemicals accumulate in their bodies and effect their health along with  the future generations health. As the haunting silhouette of the factory  skeleton continues to loom over them it seemed to show that despite the  wonderful work at Sambhavna, the struggle for justice and a right to  life in Bhopal is still an open wound, and DOW refuses the help the  healing.  Bhopal is fortunate in the unique situation at Sambhavna, and it has  been a privilege to be involved for just a short period of time here.  The trust provides a beacon of hope both here and to the rest of the  world showing that not all humans innately step over each other in the  name of profit. We’ve learnt about the rich, incredible culture in  Bhopal along with the strong sense of history and identity all but  forgotten under the ink blot of Union Carbide. A great many things have  come from the ashes here or in the words of the empowering Women’s group  Chingari trust “Flames not flowers”. Above all the community strength  has been the key and 26 years on, under the guidance of individuals such  as Sathyu Sarangi (The Sambhavna Managing Trustee) the focus on the  fight for justice is unwavering. We can only hope as we stand in history  as humans that this terrible wrong can be put right again. Our days have  literally been too short to take all that there is to see here, but we  hope we provide a glimpse of some of the magic.
Lotte and Joe xxx
Thankyou for sharing this experience with us. We’ll be cutting a  small documentary about Bhopal once we’re back but we’d like to  encourage you to have a look at these websites.
www.bhopal.org en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambhavna_Trust
http://www.chingaritrust.org/

Blog 6 

So our last day at Sambhavna, feeling sad to be leaving, there’s still so much to do and learn, though having said that we definitely have a sense of achievement: We made a quick virtual tour earlier this week, managed to compile all staff portraits and information, finished our ethics essay, and did further write ups on our stay, as well as get 6hours of film footage, oo and showered garden in the monsoon yesterday, phew. … Firstly some medical things. We did a mini survey while in Dr Wazeem’s clinic. It was quite interesting to see why patients weren’t taking their medicines. Here are the results: Reason for Non- compliance Tally Addiction Fear III Poor Education - Complicated drug regime -Difficult to explain how drugs work, so patient has little faith in them. II Nature of person – doesn’t like to take the medicines II Inconvenient – lives far away from the clinic and taxi costs II Contact with “quacks” – (non registered people practising medicine) They would encourage patients just to take their medicines and in the process line their pockets I Travelling away from Bhopal – can’t get medicines. I Out of the 40 or so patients 11 of those were non-compliant – this was a bad day for it though! Of particular concern was the issue with “quacks.” These hoax physicians set up clinics or surgeries which promise the patient a cure for their illness, in just a few short weeks; if they take the very expensive, often ineffective medicine. One patient had a problem with his knee joint. He went to a Quack, who told him he needed an X-ray, then a CT scan- which he payed for. He was then given some expensive medicine, that didn’t work, lastly he was told he would need an operation, for which a huge sum of money would be required. At this point he came to Sambhavna, and for free he was able to get instant relief from Ayuvedic medicines, so much so he was walking unaided in 3 days. Addiction fear was quite a big issue, many patient don’t want to end up dependant on the drugs, which is quite understandable. This is different with something like diabetes, however, where medication compliance is essential to reduce the long term risks of high blood sugar. Another area of interest we spent some time on was women’s health. There are a number of diseases that contamination with Methyl Isocynate seems to induce. We already mentioned endocrine disorders, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. In women’s health the endocrine disorder seen is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It create a hormone imbalance where patients suffer from infertility, an-ovulation (no egg maturity and release), obesity, diabetes and excess androgen (masculinizing hormone.) Clearly a very distressing disease, particularly the infertility which can causes great emotional and social unhappiness. The current gynaecologist is new to the clinic, but was struck by the large numbers of PCOS she was seeing. It seemed to be much higher the their usual prevalence of 5%, she is currently compiling a list of all her PCOS patients, so hopefully Sambhavna can learn more about why MIC exposure seems to be creating this. We learnt a little about Obstetric practice in India. We went to visit a government hospital and were quite shocked at the bareness and brutality of the obstetric ward. However, this is the better option for many women as the DAI (midwives) who work in the communities will not be well qualified. Furthermore they get payed by baby delivered, so when a baby is failing to progress, instead of sending for an ambulance to get to hospital, they will want to deliver the baby; alive, dead or damaged. India now actually has a scheme which gives a financial reward of Rs2000 (about 25-30pounds) if a women comes to hospital to give birth. This is to try and reduce child and maternal mortality. Despite all this there is a strong tradition of giving birth at home, and many women would be too afraid to go to Government hospitals, with their frightening reputation for death as well as charges. Moving on, we at last decided to face the culprit of the Bhopal disaster; the Union Carbide factory itself. It is truly as sinister as you might imagine. A twisted, eroded, contorted, structure; gas cylinders and metal cage frames collapsing slowly into the putrid dust. The smell, with a metallic taste in the back of your throat and the immediate nausea the site induced was a real shock. You could feel it from the adjacent colony we had been working in, but as you got onto the grounds it was over powering. We walked straight from our community project, passed one extra line of shacks, through a short, well trodden mud path and were there. A collapsed wall welcomed us in with no restrictions or hazard signs. There were two guards which actually live permanently on site, inside the buildings. As we visited they were hanging there washing up on top of a central building which seemed such a bizarre normality to witness in the midst of a catastrophe site. At the now blurred factory/community boundary families collected soil and water whilst goats grazed in and amongst the rusted tanks, stacks and silos. Another cruel joke gripped us when the community workers explained that the Hindi for this colony was “Beautiful” and as we dwelled on this children ran off, into the greenery that surrounds some of the site, to play. Heading back down a road which ran parallel with the factory boundary we came upon a young man pumping hard to get some water for cooking from a well. Stopping to smell the water, a chemical toxic aroma hit us, it was just unbelievable that the people here had to use this water. We’d earlier heard a story from a mother with a terrible dilemma. The clean water that is meant to be provided for the effected area had not been delivered in 8days. She therefore had to choose to either let her children die of dehydration or make them drink the toxic water. In a way the people are in denial about the toxic water, they just get on with life and enjoy themselves, they don’t want to have to think about being poisoned all the time! However as time goes on, the chemicals accumulate in their bodies and effect their health along with the future generations health. As the haunting silhouette of the factory skeleton continues to loom over them it seemed to show that despite the wonderful work at Sambhavna, the struggle for justice and a right to life in Bhopal is still an open wound, and DOW refuses the help the healing. Bhopal is fortunate in the unique situation at Sambhavna, and it has been a privilege to be involved for just a short period of time here. The trust provides a beacon of hope both here and to the rest of the world showing that not all humans innately step over each other in the name of profit. We’ve learnt about the rich, incredible culture in Bhopal along with the strong sense of history and identity all but forgotten under the ink blot of Union Carbide. A great many things have come from the ashes here or in the words of the empowering Women’s group Chingari trust “Flames not flowers”. Above all the community strength has been the key and 26 years on, under the guidance of individuals such as Sathyu Sarangi (The Sambhavna Managing Trustee) the focus on the fight for justice is unwavering. We can only hope as we stand in history as humans that this terrible wrong can be put right again. Our days have literally been too short to take all that there is to see here, but we hope we provide a glimpse of some of the magic.

Lotte and Joe xxx

Thankyou for sharing this experience with us. We’ll be cutting a small documentary about Bhopal once we’re back but we’d like to encourage you to have a look at these websites.

www.bhopal.org en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambhavna_Trust

http://www.chingaritrust.org/

More research and finally the volunteer’s area!

Exploring the library and research departments…

The garden in all its glory!

Video 3 :) venturing into the Ayuvedic medicine production area of the Clinic.

Film number 2 featuring Panchakarma master Biju

The first in our series of videos showing the clinic, filmed on the Flip camera at Sambhavna.

Blog 5 

A community alive!..

We have had a really fun couple of days focusing farther a field from just the clinic.

First was our day in the garden. Although we have been enjoying Sambhavna’s beautiful medicinal garden during all our time here, we hadn’t managed to do any work with the staff there as yet. Also as it is wet season and it will rain at least a bit everyday, the plants are transforming at an impressive rate! When we came they were brown, dry stems in cracked dusty earth wheras now what you see are rows of lush green leaves, each area a different shade and form, with their brightly coloured flowers busting into life. It was definatly the time to learn a bit more about them!

Initially the chosen plant has to be cut, not only the leaves but even large stems were also collected. We roughly cut the big bundle (about 6 full armfulls) into small enough pieces to fit in what looks like a huge wok. The wok had water poured into it as well and there was a gas burner underneath which heated the whole concoction. The plant browned and stewed, slowly bubbling down. Later several plants are added togther with a a black sticky base also made from other plants. This way the essences are bound together and through further drying and processesing a browny/ black substance is formed. This can be made into long sausages, small segments of these sausages are then broken off and pressed round and round between you thumb and forefingers – Pillrolling takes a long time and is very repetive so we investigated some plant powers while we twiddled..

Plant: Azadirachta indica (Neem) 

Use: Antiseptic, burns, eczema, worms, gingivitis, measles, diabetes, rheumatism.

Plant: Vitex nergundo (Nirgundi)

Uses: Analgesic, lumbago, aphrodisiac, greying of hair

Plant: Tinospora cordifolia (Giloy)

Use: Aphrodisiac, rejuvenator, anti-pyretic, immuno-modulator, asthma, rheumatism, stimulant, diuretic, Vitamin C

We also saddled up with the community outreach workers this week. The 7 strong team had been a mystery to us until we approached them asking to visit a colony with them. Covering 14 communities (or bastis locally speaking) the team works in male/female pairs each visiting 4/5 bastis per day. These are all gas explosion or water contaminated areas and from the photos you can see are also very poor. The Basti we visited is sited by the Union Carbide solar evaporation ponds an area where chemicals from the plant were piped for storage or concentration. In addition one of the cities main railway lines runs through the centre of the housing and perpendicular to this a fly-over is being constructed carving a path through peoples homes and livelihoods.

This location really highlights the lives of many in India who struggling to find shelter where they can are so easily pushed around by those with more power.

The silver lining however is the community spirit. The outreach team now have a network of volunteers located all across the area who are trained up to provide various forms of health promotion. We met one lady whos role was to educate the locals about malaria risks at monsoon season. A spot map we were shown highlighted the stagnant water locations in the Basti and the relevant volunteer locations adjacent to them who warned residents to take precautions during this season.

These workers also provide acute medical screening for those in the community unsure, worried or physically unable to seek treatment at Sambhavna clinic. We visited what we were told was a 14 year old boy but it soon transpired he was infact a 20 year old man whos growth had been compromised by a polio infection as a child. A recent turn for the worst had left him with what seemed to be agonizing neuropathic pain but, unable to even leave his bed, it was proving difficult to seek effective treatment.

Its clear help does not finish when the community team leaves at the end of the day. Long term projects such as community herb gardens help cement the people’s trust in Sambhavna and further build the local cohesion. Donations were being collected for the next planned garden and in a wonderful gesture of trust the key for the donations box is left with a member of the community. This seems symbolic of the empowerment of locals in taking responsibility for the health of themselves and future generations.

So keeping with the themes of beauty and nature we spent the weekend in Pachmarhi. This hill-station is famous amongst Indian families, in particular honeymoon couples, for the mesmerizing beauty and cool relief it provides from the heat of the flat plains in summer. The location was discovered in 1857 by Captain James Forsyth of the British Army which lead to the formation of the hill station and a sanatorium there. The state of Madya Pradesh itself is probably the least visited by Western tourists in India. This holds true for Pachmarhi also and this can be frustrating when a some points 5 minutes struggles to pass without a request for a photograph. This seemed hilariously ironic that in such a photogenic location people were more interested in a pair a sunburnt students but c’est la vie! Besides this though we were swept away by the lush jungle valleys, waterfalls and temple caves. The video included earlier in the blog is of a settlement near to the Jatashankar caves, site of an important subterranean Hindu pilgrimage site. We hope it gave you some idea of the joy in this small community at sunset in the backdrop of what seemed like the landscape from the Lost World.

We headed down the long stone pathway as sunset and reached the shrine in near darkness. Imagine if you can stepping down into the jet black water by the shrine to wash with invisible fish nibbling your ankles as frogs croak eerie songs somewhere beyond your vision.

The pictures tell the rest :)

Hope your enjoying the heatwave! Sorry to hear about the hosepipe ban in Lymm!

Love as always

Joe and Lotte

 

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