"Mega Medical Camps" December 2010

Paediatric, Gynaecology, Orthopaedic, Cerebral Palsy, Podiatry, Leprosy: all running concurrently at Haven's community centre

This was Haven's most ambitious programme so far to be held at the community centre. With six medical camps taking place over the two days, 29th and 30th of December, at the same time, good organisation was going to be the key to success. With his excellent management skills and resourceful gathering of many volunteers, Ashis Dutt, the Manager of our centre, paved the way to achieving this success. The results of his tireless team-building efforts over the last five years were clearly visible: the MBCF staff and Youth Group worked like Trojans. Their unselfish commitment, energy and enthusiasm brought about a tremendous atmosphere and community spirit. The UK based gap students Allegra Dowding and Catherine Downes provided Ashis with vital support by painstakingly profiling each and every patient in readiness for the medical camps. The large group of Haven members and supporters, seventeen in all, who had travelled from the UK all played their part and ensured everything ran smoothly and efficiently.

The Gynaecology camp was conducted by Dr Helen Roberts, who, since her first visit to the Haven centre in 2008, had made it her mission to volunteer her expertise for a second time so that she could provide the desperately required care for women in the local area. She was assisted by her daughter Harriet, a first year medical student and Banani Mondal, a fully trained surgical nurse. A special mention here to Harriet, who, albeit in the early stages of her medical training, was able to quickly and accurately transcribe Helen's diagnostic notes as each patient was examined; this allowed the gynaecology camp to run competently throughout the two days. The three worked very well together and sensitively helped over 150 women to overcome pain and distress. Ten patients were referred for further treatment and Haven will ensure these cases are followed up quickly. Haven would like to thank Helen and her superb gynaecology team for their amazing efforts
Paediatric and Orthopaedic camps were both conducted by Burdwan based paediatric consultant, Dr Abhijit Mandal. Abhijit, who lives two hours train journey away from the centre, happily volunteered to take on the additional responsibilities involved in running two multi-disciplinary medical camps to help the children and adults from local villages. He was assisted by resident MBCF nurse Rita Mondal and together were able to help 125 very ill children. Twenty cases have been put forward for further treatment and surgery and, thanks to the superb fundraising by Haven members and supporters in the UK, Haven's contingency fund will adequately fund costs incurred.
For the orthopaedic camp, Abhijit was assisted by Lewis Roberts, son of Dr Helen Roberts, and MBCF physiotherapist Tarok Kundu. Over 75 patients were offered care and treatment and there were two cases for referral. Lewis's main role was to co-ordinate all patients prior to the start of their consultation with the doctor. This was not an easy task for a UK based university student with knowledge only of European language phonetics; our hearts went out to him in sympathy as he coped with the challenges of pronouncing patient's names. They must have seemed to Lewis to be some of the most difficult tongue-twisters he has ever come across! He managed admirably well and played a key part in the smooth running of the camp.

Podiatry and Leprosy camps, conducted by Sally Hodgkins and her daughter Cher, offered relief to many sufferers. The poor villagers, who still work in the fields on their bare feet, were overwhelmed by the comfort Sally was able to give through her treatment. More importantly, she was able to provide much needed education so that the villagers could prevent re-occurrence of their most unfortunate foot conditions. In addition, both Sally and Cher visited four neighbouring villages where leprosy had been identified. With her sound knowledge of skin diseases, Sally was able to offer essential advice on care and management for the leprosy patients. In order for Sally to reach these patients, credit goes to Sourin Ghosh, a second year university student with only UK based driving experience, for navigating our new minivan through treacherously narrow rural dirt tracks with the added obstacles of open drain gulleys and sand-dunes! Throughout their time Sally and Cher worked tirelessly and helped provide care and treatment to over a hundred patients, it has been a privilege for Haven to welcome such wonderful support for the charity.

The Cerebral Palsy Camp was carried out under the guidance of MBCF physiotherapist, Tarok Kundu and focussed more on ways of giving these most unfortunate children a wonderful day to remember. One such way was by each volunteer "adopting" a child throughout their time at the centre, looking after all the child's needs and making sure the child was always as happy as possible. The culmination of the celebration of these very special children's lives was when a "magic circle" unexpectedly formed around them. This "magic circle" was made up of the children from the learning centre and volunteers all holding hands and spinning in time to the musical beat of "Jai ho!", which incidentally means "Victory to thee!". 


This impromptu gathering of so many people trying to bring happiness and joy to these very special children, the centre of everyone's attention, was a truly emotional sight.

All six medical camps proved to be highly successful, more so as all patient records and referral requests were immediately collected, deciphered and organised after each consultation from each camp. This very difficult task of collating huge amounts of information into a comprehensive databank fell on the shoulders of Maddy Fox and her team of fellow students. In addition to the camps, a memorial service was held for MBCF founding member, Kalyanbaba. To honour his memory, volunteers had travelled from Kolkata to put on a dazzling display of cultural song and dance much appreciated by the large audience that had gathered. Haven would like to thank Sreyashi Dutta for co-ordinating numerous practice rehearsals ensuring polished performances from all the dancers.

Over the two days, lunch was catered for 1500 villagers and the centre's open flat roof  proved to be the perfect venue for seating large numbers. Haven would like to applaud the MBCF Youth Group for their invaluable help; they served lunch to all 1500 people with considerate care and took over the messy task of clearing up afterwards.

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