“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama
On Thursday, 9th June, I went to Gheja Village in the District of Noida as a part of a HelpAge India initiative to provide free mobile healthcare to the disadvantaged and poor elderly. It was early in the morning when we got into an MHU which is a Mobile Health Unit and travelled towards the village. An MHU is a small bus which consists of a trained medical professional, a pharmacist, an SPO (State Protection Officer) and a trained driver who also registers patients. It has all the necessary medical equipment and medicines that are handed out by the pharmacist after the doctor prescribes them on examining the elderly patient. The MMU has seats for the patients to sit on while the doctor attends to them.
The Gheja Village is located right behind a series of tall residential buildings almost as if to show the contrast between the rich and the less fortunate in our country. The village was quiet initially as it was early in the day but from around 11am people started approaching the MHU. I was assisting the driver in registering patients and making new identification cards for unregistered people. There were around 1400 registered patients from the village but only 50 showed up on that particular day. It was good to know that all of those 50 patients who needed medicines and medical help had access to mobile healthcare right at their doorstep, via HelpAge India’s programme services.
The villagers were polite and patient and nothing like the typical stereotype placed on them. I was shocked when I came across a patient who was a 19 year old girl who had been married for 5 years. Instances like this make us realise how absorbed we are in our “first world problems” that we become desensitized to the real issues around us. It is saddening that I have the opportunity to get an education and decide what to do with my future whereas another girl exactly my age has to get married and have her independence taken from her. Because the only thing differentiating us is our background, and that is not enough of a reason to deny someone the right to choose their future. I was happy that though HelpAge India treats the elderly patients, when a young patient really in need came to the mobile medicine van, she wasn’t shunned but empathetically addressed and the doctor helped her as well.
What I learnt from this visit was certainly something that I could not have learnt elsewhere. It was an extremely humbling experience and taught me a lot about the issues of communities that people generally avoid addressing. I believe that organisations like HelpAge India are making a remarkable change in how we go about caring for the elderly of our country. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and the learning I have gained from it and I hope I come across another one like this in the future.
This blog is written by Saumya Maitra, a 15 year old girl studying in class X at Modern School, Barakhamba, New Delhi. She was a HelpAge India summer intern 2017.