Sunday, October 9, 2011

Incredible India!

#ibmcsc ibmcsc india
Another amazing week has just come to its end, and it is time for an update!

Waiting for the park to open.

The day at the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve was a rather good one. Early in the morning, we set off from Coimbatore and made it up in the mountains so that we had plenty of time to explore the park. We were taken around the park in a mini bus, and it was beyond any doubt that the driver was a former race car driver! We were astonished to see all the wild animals in the park - there was really quite a lot of them. To name a few: we saw elephants, deer, alligators, bears, monkeys, and buffalos. Check out the footage below. We also got to see a government-funded elementary school for children from rural poor families. 

An elephant mom, along with her baby.

Guess the weight of this buffalo! -it is about 1000 kg!
The founder of Sankara Eye Care Institutions, Dr. Ramani, invited all the Corporate Service Corps participants to join him in a cultural function at his house. We were all grateful to watch traditional Indian dancing and enjoy some appropriate snacks. We even got to wear our new outfits! In addition to us, there appeared to be more than a hundred other guests.

Dr. Ramani was talking to us.

Traditional Indian dancing.
I have always considered Yoga to be a sport for "girls" only. But I was wrong! I can tell you it is anything but easy! We have had another three sessions this week, and my muscles and joints have been pushed to the limit of breakdown. I have learned that, by accepting a certain level of pain, it is possible to get your body into some rather interesting positions.

Position #1
Position #2
I have gotten into a good eating pattern over here. For breakfast, a three-egg omelet provides for a powerful start of the day. At the hospital, we are regularly served everything from coconut milk to tea and coffee throughout the day. At one o’clock, we have a vegetarian meal for lunch. We typically go out for dinner at night, checking out many of Coimbatore’s great restaurants.
Some elders relaxing outdoors.
After reading all of the above, I imagine you must be thinking: “Is Sverre doing any work at all in India?" The answer is yes, indeed. We have had six full days this week. Our assignment is definitely on track. The nature of our work requires us to talk with and interview more or less everyone that works at the hospital. It has been some great learning so far.

Having a look at the archive.
 Yesterday, we got to observe one of Sankara’s outreach camps – a great experience. This camp took place about a two-hour drive outside Coimbatore, in a tiny little village. A total of 80 patients were expected to come by to have their eyes screened. The camp itself was situated in a run-down elementary school. A group of doctors, paramedics, and staff from Sankara ran the operation, with assistance from local coordinators. About 20 patients were identified to have surgery, and they were all brought to the Sankara Eye Care hospital on the same day. Over the next three or four days, they will all be given free comprehensive surgeries to have their vision fixed. As of today, more than 10 000 camps have been arranged, and more than 700 000 surgeries have been performed. Impressive!
Outside the elementary school where the patients were screened.

A group of patients is waiting for transport to the hospital.

Kids swimming in a stream.

They were quite excited to have some spectators.
Oh... I almost forgot about one of the highlights of the week... There is a pool at the hotel. However, when we arrived two weeks ago, the water was all green! Going for a swim in that water, would constitute a major health risk. The good news, though, is that they scrubbed down the whole pool, and filled it with fresh chlorine water. Even better is that it is deep enough to do some serious diving! I am excited!

The pool is all shiny now :-)