As a part of our efforts to make basic health care accessible in rural and remote areas a free medical camp was held, by the Centre for Holistic Healing, on 8th April 2018 to serve the poor and the deprived section of the the society.
The Venue was a village called “MaravanKulam”. The Village is situated within fair proximity toVavuniya.It is around 16 kilo meters away from the A9 highway into the wilderness. Wide publicity of the camp was done in advance in the village by way of distributing leaflets, displaying banners and announcing in public gatherings. The purpose of the camp was to make the people aware of their health and attend to ailments that have been overlooked due to unavailability of basic health care within the village.
The residents were families displaced from their homes during the 3 decades long war. There are about 520 families settled in the village. They had lived in refugee camps after being displaced during the war and subsequently brought to be settled in MaravanKulam in year 2001. Some were of Indian origin from the up country. They had to flee their homes towards the North during the communal riots in 1983. Some fled their homes and settled in the North to escape being deported as they were denied citizenship and made statelessdespite having lived and worked in the country since the 19th century. Eventually they were displaced during the war, lived in refugee camps in Vavuniya and later settled in MaravanKulam in year 2001.A few lamented that they cannot return to their original homes as the lands in which the homes are situated are now occupied by the Srilankan Army. Some had to take care of family members with disabilities sustained during the war. Some spoke of disappearance of family members during the war, with intense grief.
They live in very modest homes, with only the very basics, partly donated by the Indian Government. There is no direct water supply to the homes. There are a few wells. Each well shared by a few families. These wells occasionally go dry during the hot summer months. Water is rationed during such circumstances until the rain arrives. There is a primary school within the village which was, until this year, teaching students up to grade 10. On completion of grade 10 students had to travel for about half an hour by bus to another school to continue their education. This year the school intends to enhance its services up to GCE O/L. The village is surrounded by barren land, understandably due to the harsh climate prevalent at this time of the year. Farming is almost impossible due to lack of sufficient water. The main source of income of the local community is from manual work. There is absolutely no job opportunities within the village. The men seem to travel far and wide looking for manual work.
There was a reasonable gathering of the people of the village, at the Church where the camp was held, well before the Medical Team arrived. The Medical Team consisted of 2 Doctors, 3 Nurses, 2 Pharmacists and 3 Counsellors. There were other volunteers on standby to assist the team. Majority of those attended the camp were women, children and elderly. There were hardly any men as they could not afford to forgo a day’s wages. The registration of patients was handled by the Nurses. Basic tests such as blood pressure, blood sugar etc. were taken and patients proceeded to the Doctor with the results of the tests. Children mainly complained of chest problems. Adults mainly suffered from aches and pain invarious parts of their body. Some of the complaints seemed like somatic disorder, understandably due to the trauma they have been through and the stress of living under such harsh conditions. Many seem to suffer from kidney related ailments, which was a matter of concern.
Patients were provided with required drugs free of charge after diagnosed by the medical personnel. The patients relaxed and discussed their concerns, of all sorts, with the counsellors before leaving the camp. The camp provided coordinated and efficient care for the patients. The event was a success with over a 100 patients attending the camp. We missed our Madam Dr. MrsThayaliniThiagarajah, as Madam was unable to attend the camp due to unavoidable circumstances. The Centre for Holistic Healing hopes to expand its work to more remote areas and hold the event more frequently.
Reported by Meera, Senior counselor on behalf of the Director Thaya Thiagarajah