Volunteering at Mungeli Hospital in India
Dan Sampson – India
The day after I arrived in Mungeli, I went to chapel. After it was over, I noticed the blind man hadn’t been on the front entrance that morning. He was there during my last volunteer experience here. He was blinded when he was about ten years old and he had lived at the hospital compound since then. No one knows exactly how old he was. When I inquired about him Dr. Anil told me he had died since my last visit in ’04.
Anil added that upon going through his personal effects after his death, they discovered he had managed to save about 2000 rupees (about $40 u.s.) over the span of his life, and Anil was wondering what might be done with the money. We talked it over and came up with a solution. The Christian School there at the hospital complex has been reopened since last year, and is holding classes and undergoing renovation. I think there are currently about 150 children attending the school. I added 5700 rupees (about $125 u.s.) from Spring Valley Christian Church to the deceased man’s $40 in savings. Together these funds were enough to award 2 scholarships per year. The award is based on need and academic achievement. Anil said that this would be a permanent fund for the school.
I am so glad this opportunity came our way. In talking with the principal at the school, I shared my thoughts about the scholarships and education. We heartily agreed that an education is one of the things you can give a person that no one can ever take away. I had also brought a suitcase of paper, pencils, pens, crayons, and other supplies from the U.S. for the school. It wasn’t much but I know it was appreciated.
At Mungeli Hospital Anil has accomplished much in the 15 months since my last visit. He is an inspiration for us all. At any obstacle he smiles and says “God will provide.” I haven’t seen it fail yet. Shortly after my last visit, there was a cargo container that arrived with much needed equipment. Before I left this time, we had the controls on all the electric beds in ICU working.
Speaking of the ICU, which didn’t exist last time I visited, the 2nd floor renovation is complete and houses the ICU, a ward and 16 private rooms. A laundry has been installed on the roof to take care of the hospital needs. It had to be covered for monsoon rains, and enclosed in wire because of the monkeys that travel through the complex. Mungeli Hospital is a very modern-looking facility.
Also, the grounds have been largely cleaned up, and the old cooking cover torn down. It has all been replaced with a two story barracks with lockers for the family members of the patients; a covered gas cooking area; and a canteen where you can purchase coffee, tea, or other food and drinks. If one can afford it, for 5 rupees (about 10 cents U.S.) you can buy a prepared meal of rice, dall and vegetables. There is a 2 rupee fee for use of the gas cooking and free wood cooking is still permitted and available. Along with the barracks, toilets and showers have been installed for the families. Sanitation around the grounds has been a problem in the past and hopefully this, along with the installation of litter barrels will help resolve that.
Construction is currently underway for new doctor’s quarters, and nursing students. Probably the biggest need of Anil right now is more doctors. And, rightly, he says he can’t attract good staff without suitable housing for them.
Another construction project just beginning is the blood bank that will be above the pharmacy as Anil starts building upwards to conserve the space available in the compound.
For my part, I was put in charge of the litter barrels and their location, and they have to be anchored to the wall because of the stray dogs that roam the compound. Arun Titus and I and the rest of the maintenance people worked on other projects such as the ICU beds, oxygen generators, and other hospital equipment that needed maintenance or repair. We also completed the installation of the bell on the chapel that my church donated last year. Each morning it calls the staff to worship at 7:30 before the day starts. Speaking for myself, it seems to energize me for the day’s activities.
I have made a special connection with Anil and the staff at Mungeli and I am accepted as family by all of them. I am called “Dan Uncle” around the compound by the others and it is a name I treasure. I told them before I left that I am a lucky man to have family and many friends half way around the world from my home. My closest connection is with Anil and the maintenance guys, Arun, Ratnesh, Santosh, Bacha, Sundeep, Pramud, Cheku (the Pharmacist), and their families and many others in the compound. I most enjoy the children. This time I carried candy almost every day and when school was out, they would come looking for me. I also went fishing with some of them on the staff picnic we had one Sunday afternoon.
Mungeli is still as 3rd world and impoverished as it was last year, but the Christian Hospital is a shining light of hope and comfort for the people who live there. God bless Anil Henry and the rest of the people at the hospital who serve the people there.
Love and blessings,
Dan served with Mungeli Hospital near Raipur in the state of Chatisghar, India. He volunteered in the hospital working as an electrician and technician supervisor.