The Students’ Perspectives
I developed many skills and insights during our visit to India, but one thing stands out from the rest. As a product of this trip I have gained a higher level of citizenship. I believe I am now a more integrated, empathetic, and aware citizen of this world from having interacted with another culture.
There was one experience that sticks out more than any other from our trip to India, visiting the home of a patient from the urban clinic. The patient was approximately 60 years old and has lymphedema in her lower extremity. She lived with her son and his wife and the couple’s 7 children. The entire family lived in a room roughly 8 feet by 8 feet, connected to a small room that was probably 3 feet by 3 feet where they prepared their food. The couple and their five children all slept on one bed and the grandmother slept in the entryway of the apartment on the floor. The apartment was made of concrete and only had a door and one small window. I can only imagine how hot the apartment gets in the 110+ degree heat in the summer.
Seeing the conditions that this family endured was a very intense example of the disparity not only present in India but throughout the world. Their rent was the equivalent of 10 U.S. dollars an amount I spent that week just buying drinking water. While at home it’s very easy to ignore the realities of our world, after seeing it first hand you have to work to not ignore these injustices. Seeing these types of situations I struggle with what to do, how to help. We can go to space, make electric cars, and design high tech computers; but there are still nearly 3 billion people living on less than $2 a day. There’s no easy answer, but going on trips like this I at least feel like I’m doing something to create change.
I hope to continue the work we started in India. The most meaningful part of the trip for me was educating the community care givers I think the next step for me is to seek a way to provide more of these training sessions abroad. I believe the best way of carrying on this project would be to train more trainers. This would create a self sustaining education system which I believe is the most empowering way to contribute to the LF elimination campaign.
Treating a patient with lymphedema consistently for one week continually encouraged me to think critically and apply the knowledge I was gaining from the course to my actual patient case. Because of the complexity of my patient’s condition, it was necessary that I utilize problem-solving skills to adequately address the needs of the patient in terms of lymphatic drainage sequences and bandages techniques.
Not only was I required to problem solve and think critically about each patient, but I was also required to work in a treatment team with four other people, most of them Indian. This greatly enhanced my teamwork skills, requiring me to work cooperatively in a group setting to address the needs of the patient in a situation where nearly everyone in the group spoke a different first language – the patient included. The group was faced with numerous cultural and language barriers most of which were understood or overcome by the end of the week in our best effort to provide our patient with optimal care.
> The Benter Initiative in India
> Outcomes and Assessment
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