Thursday, August 4, 2011

Visit to the Slums of Vellore

By: Morgaine
Morgaine blogs about our visit to the slums at the Christian Medical College on July 22, 2011.

Today we got our first real look at the poorest section of vellore. We walked over to one of the slums and visited three families there to see how they live and what their health care experiences were like. It was a very emotionally difficult visit for many of us. I think we're so used to hearing sad statistics that when we hear things like, "80% of Indians live on less than two dollars a day," we're numb to it. We don't really picture what that means for someone day-to-day. Today we learned the real meaning behind those numbers. The slum was filthy, with the water pipes exposed next to gutters filled with trash, feces, and thick black sludge. Children just defecate in the street since there are no bathrooms and they can't walk all the way to the hill the adults use. Yesterday's visit to the village seemed like upper-class living by comparison.

My group visited an older lady who lives with a grandson but is alone during the day while he's at work. She has hemiplegia from a stroke and lives in a tiny shack with a roof which can't even keep out the rain. In the US she would be placed in a nursing home and given long-term care. But here, she's stuck in her shack and the ten feet surrounding it. Even simple chores are impossible for her but there's no one to help her. She doesn't like to drink during the day because she can't go to the bathroom alone. She has to wait for her grandson to come home so he can carry her to the gutter. It was very sad to see how this poor woman lives and think that so many other people out there are equally disadvantaged. The one bright spot of the visit was that the families seemed to support each other more there than they probably would here. The lady we visited seemed happy that her grandson was succeeding where she had been unable to. The other two families our group visited had similar family support. We left the slum in a very thoughtful mood, trying to not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of all the problems we saw.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Margaine. I couldn't have said it better myself. For me it was especially affecting as well. The statistics, on paper, are quite numbing. Actually seeing the reality is something entirely, entirely different.