Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rural Education and Action Development, Andimadam, Tamil Nadu

Dr. Rhoda speaking to the local medical association group in Jayagondam in the Ariyala district of Tamil Nadu.


John Adams

16 January 2012


We took an overnight train from Mysore to Kumbanakom on 10-11 January, 2012 to visit the Rural Education and Action Development (READ) NGO that is a sister NGO to our Mysore hosts, PHRII.  D. Selvam has created a wonderful set of institutions in the town of Andimadam, including an HIV+ women's program, school, disabled school, and craft programs. READ also coordinates over 900 women's self help groups.


We arrived just a the start of Pongal, the biggest festival of the year in Tamil Nadu – a merry-making harvest festival that brings Tamil natives home each year from all over the world. The first morning (Wednesday) of our visit, we observed the making of Pongal Rice and visited the school. We also visited a beautiful old Chola Dynasty temple that dates back nearly 1000 years.


On Thursday, there were more READ institution visits and then Dr. Rhoda spoke to the local Indian Medical Association chapter about PINCC, HPV, and VIA. The group greatly appreciated the talk and spoke eagerly about getting the training brought here. See the picture above.


We spent Friday morning at the local Public Health Center in Andimadam, where some of the doctors from Thursday's talk work. The PHC doctors spoke of training they received in the now defunct VIA program instituted by the state a few years ago and proudly proclaimed that they have a Cryo gun from that program – however they don't use it! One of the nurses stated that she does 3-4 VIAs a month, but was unclear what happens when a positive case is found. We are just a tad skeptical about what is going on here, but they invited us to bring our PINCC training to the PHC if they can get approvals up the state bureaucracy line. It would be a perfect venue, and the 100 or so HIV+ women in the READ program would be an ideal group to start the trainings with. We gave Selvam the PINCC commitment letter and he will be working with the PHC to get the needed approvals.


On Friday afternoon, we went to a Tamil "Backwater" area and took rowboats through a mangrove area that eventually led to a gorgeous and totally deserted ocean beach! It was an incredibly wonderful experience.


Saturday was a day of further meetings around READ and many hours of finalizing the Tata proposal with Mr. Selvam to fund our envisioned Centre of Excellence for Cancer Prevention in Women in Mysore, that intends to train 320 doctors, nurses and midwives a year in the PINCC methods by the fifth year of its operation. On Sunday, the PINCC team's three Christians went to a catholic mass in Andimadam, and afterwards, in conversation with the priest, learned of his social and community missions in eco-developments. He is sponsoring a number of "green" local programs for tree planting, organic gardening, and so on. Very impressive service and we really were excited by the community focus. We spent Sunday afternoon visiting Selvam's home and meeting his family.


Monday morning we traveled by car to Thanjavur, the last stop on this trip, for three days of Quality Improvement consultations with an NGO that sponsors a clinic where three staff have received VIA training at Adyar Cancer Hospital  in Chennai. 

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