Many of the volunteers with Aim Abroad went to travel today! Four volunteers went to Agra, where they will tour around the city and observe the Taj Mahal. In the evening, two of the volunteers will return back to the host family, while the other two volunteers will travel around India, as their volunteering projects have finished. Another group of volunteers went to the tourist areas in Delhi: They will visit Delhi's Red Fort and then shop around Chandni Chowk, around the beautiful mosque called Jamma Masjid. In the evening, they made arrangements so that they could stay in a hotel in Connought Place in Delhi, so that they can wake up early and visit Delhi's famous shopping district. The remaining two volunteers with us , who are participating in the language and culture program, went to see a Bollywood Film, Rajneeti (the word for "politics" in Hindi), in the local movie theater. After they finish the movie, they will come back to the host family house for lunch, and then will go to the Aim Abroad language teacher's home to continue their Hindi classes. These volunteers love learning about Indian culture and Hindi, and are constantly practicing their new vocabulary with me and my family! They were very excited to learn some Hindi grammar, although for a one-week introduction to Hindi they describe that the grammar isn't too technical, it is the right amount to learn as a traveler in India. They are looking forward to volunteering and practicing their new-found Hindi up in the mountains in Himachal Pradesh soon. To prepare for their trip, they will go to the market near the language teacher's house after the classes finish. Finally, they will return back to the host family's home, and will spend ample time with the family and eat dinner together.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
The volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the pediatric hospital in Delhi NCR today. The volunteers were interested in helping the infants in the nursery: they describe that these infants were extremely weak and needed all of their assistance and time. When they arrived at the hospital, the volunteers went to the nursery where they met the team of doctors who were on rounds, as they begin their rounds with the infants. Once the doctors finished rounds in the nursery, the volunteers stayed with the women who work in the nursery and helped feed the babies and administer any required treatments for the babies. The volunteers were quite intrigued by how entire families would wait together outside of the nursery for the doctor or volunteers to give updates on the status of the babies. After the day ended, the volunteers came back to the host family house together, where they spent time relaxing and lounging around. In the evening, the volunteers went to the famous market in the neighborhood, and will be coming back to the host family homes soon.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
This weekend the volunteers with Aim Abroad mostly stayed in the Delhi NCR area. Some volunteers went to Delhi for shopping visits, bringing back beautiful pearl necklaces and pashmina shawls. Other volunteers went to see some sights in Delhi rather than shopping visits, and had an equally entertaining experience. The photo was taken at the famous Iskcon Temple in Delhi: The women were preparing the flowers for a Hindu tradition. After a person prays to God, she or he should take some of the flowers, with which they prayed, and toss them in water to complete the prayer.
The rest of the volunteers stayed with the host families and visited a few projects which were having weekend programs, like the hospitals and clinics. As for the ones who just rested with the host families, some of them went to the local markets and spent a lot of time learning the tricks of bargaining with the locals: they wanted to test out bargaining skills with cheaper items, so that when they do make more expensive purchases, they will be "trained" in the skill! Another volunteer went to a local massage area for women. She brought back a booklet with all of the different services and massages the place offered: We couldn't believe just how many different massages one place offered! She also described that there were four women who worked at the place, and each worker focused on a different are on her body! One woman was massaging her head, one each on either foot, and one for her body and arms. Although she had never had a massage before in her life, she thought that it was a bit different from what she would expect! As the massage was affordable and incredibly soothing, we have a feeling that several of the volunteers will soon go together to the massage place again!
Friday, June 18, 2010
Medical volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the ultrasound clinic today for their volunteering project. At the clinic, the volunteers mostly observed how to diagnose kidney stones and gall bladder stones. The doctor explained that when the stone is very small, she prescribes an Ayurvedic medicine that breaks down and dissolves the stone so that it can pass. If the stone is too large for the Ayurvedic medicine though, then the doctor suggests surgery for extraction of the stone. The volunteers described that they could see very clearly on the ultrasound machine the kidney and gall bladder stones, and even saw two cases where the kidney stone has left the kidney and could see the damage the stone had made in the kidney. Also, in one patient, a bladder stone was starting to pass through the patient's system, and the damage to the body was very clear and visible to the volunteers. The volunteers learned a lot about the ultrasound technique, and they look forward to learning more useful medical techniques while they volunteer with Aim Abroad!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the street children project today. The day was filled with laughter, fun, and games between the volunteers and the kids, as the volunteers described on their way back from the project. When they arrived at the project, they distributed medicines to the children, and some volunteers even provided first aid for the children. Afterwards, the volunteers split into teams and went around the different classrooms as they taught different subjects: Some volunteers taught art classes, others practiced counting with emphasis on English pronunciation, and others still taught more advanced English reading (they read children's stories like "The Gingerbread Man" and reviewed the comprehension of the story). During lunch time, the volunteers played frisbee, volleyball, and tag with the children, who were smiling ear to ear with the volunteers! Afterwards, the volunteers returned to the host family homes, where they ate lunch and rested after the event-filled day.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The medical volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the maternity hospital today. They had the opportunity to observe a C-Section delivery in the operating room, which they described was quite an interesting experience. They arrived just as the patient was entering the operating room, and were able to learn from the entire procedure, from the beginning to the delivery. Once the baby was born, the doctors ran some tests on the baby to check for its health. After they left the operating room, the volunteers went on rounds with the doctors at the medical facility. They finished their volunteer work for the day with the gynecologist in the hospital, and they spoke to her for a few hours to learn about the Indian health care system and to observe a few patients who came into the office. The doctor who runs the ultrasound clinic also came to the gynecologist's office and worked with the volunteers and patients, as she takes the ultrasound of the patients at the hospital. The volunteers then came back to the host family home, where they spent time with the families.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Some of our volunteers went to work with the Eye Ambulance today! In the morning, the cook made some upma, a traditional South Indian breakfast or light snack, and the volunteers learned how to make the dish. After he made the upma, he made lunch for the volunteers, a few cooked and seasoned vegetables with some paranthas, traditional North Indian bread, all which the volunteers observed how to prepare as well. Once they finished eating breakfast and having chai, the volunteers went to the Eye Ambulance project. They describe that the Eye Ambulance, much like the other ambulance for the elderly, goes to rural areas to provide services for the poor who are otherwise unable to receive such medical services. The doctors and volunteers took eye exams from the volunteers, and the doctors prescribed the appropriate lenses for the patients. The workers in the ambulance described that they will come back with the glasses for the patients when their prescriptions are ready. The volunteers mostly helped out at the ambulance by measuring the blood pressure of the patients. One volunteer, from the US, learned how to measure blood pressure for the first time. Once the volunteers returned from the Eye Ambulance project, they ate the lunch they had prepared in the morning, and then went to the local markets in the neighborhood.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
This weekend two volunteers with Aim Abroad went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, while the other volunteers stayed in the host family houses for the weekend. The pair who went to Agra came back to their host family a few hours ago, and they sent me two pictures which particularly interested them. The photo shows the inlaid marble design that is quite common in India. Many tourist sites, like Red Fort, Amber Fort, and the Taj Mahal use this design, but the volunteers were very impressed by he artwork. The Taj Mahal is filled with inlaid marble all around the building, but the volunteers took two pictures of just the flowery design around the structure's walls. They describe that they really enjoyed their time in Agra, and were able to have an extremely affordable trip, especially considering they went to see one of the wonders of the world! In the mean time, back in Delhi NCR, our volunteers spent a lot of time with the host families. My family spent time with the volunteers staying at our house by going to the mall together, walking around the markets, and some volunteers even went with my daughter to her dance classes! The volunteers learn a lot about Indian culture when they stay with our host families, and we are always eager to learn equally as much from our guests. Tomorrow, the volunteers decided they would like to visit the Eye Ambulance project, and so I will update tomorrow about the project after they return.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Some of the volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the ambulance project today! They first visited the headquarters of the ambulance area, where the offices and management of the ambulance program is run. After meeting with the workers at the facility, the volunteers went in the ambulance with the driver and workers, and then visited some rural places in Delhi NCR. The first neighborhood they visited was an area that is mostly populated by refugees from Pakistan, who moved after the partition between India and Pakistan. This charity ambulance particularly offers free services to elderly people, and all of the patients coming to the ambulance were around sixty years old, but some were older still. The patients had a really enriching experience spending time with the volunteers, as they helped them with sitting, standing, taking blood pressures (which they learned how to measure today for the first time), and just sharing some kind words between each other. Some patients had very limited English communication, while others greatly impressed the volunteers with their skill with the language! After they visited this neighborhood, they went to two other neighborhoods in the area, but didn't know the neighborhoods in particular to describe to me, as they are not very familiar with Delhi NCR. The patients in these neighborhoods though were very similar, with respect to demographics and age, as the patients they encountered at the refugee area. The volunteers describe that they had a very eventful day, and look forward to visiting other volunteering projects while they are volunteering here in Delhi NCR!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Today volunteers with Aim Abroad went to the local street children school in Delhi NCR. Here the volunteers were giving first aid to the children at the school. Many of the students had cuts and small wounds that were in need of disinfecting and bandaging, but few of the cases were serious. Most of the problems stem from hygiene issues, but the volunteers were teaching the children ways to maintain hygiene and health to prevent the cases in the future. Besides for first aid, the volunteers also went around giving medicine to the children with colds and with stomach pains, which surprisingly many of the children came to school even when they were sick. The volunteers describe that the children in the school are very much unlike children going to school in their home countries in the west. These particular children have a safe place where they are with their loving friends and teachers, and even new friends who are volunteers, while they also learn exciting new things about the world and even are given a meal during the day, a meal which may be the only meal they eat in a day. After the volunteers finished giving medicine to the children, they played with the children after school ended. Some puppies were even nearby in the school, and the children were extremely affectionate with the puppies! It was very warm to see the children having such a wonderful time, and you can really tell just how happy and loving these children are in the pictures!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
This past weekend, two volunteers with Aim Abroad stayed in the main tourist area of Delhi during their free time. They had already visited Delhi twice during their language and culture program with AIm Abroad, but wanted to go back for the weekend for some shopping. In Delhi, they went to Connaught Place, a very nice area for affordable shopping of very high quality items. They came back with several pearl necklaces, several pashminas, and even some marble items for gifts. They spent less than $100 in all of their shopping, but they said that they had bought gifts for around ten different people with all of the great deals they had found in Delhi! They did comment, though, on one funny interaction with a rickshaw driver when they were in Delhi! They describe that, from the hotel, they had searched for several rickshaws with affordable prices, but most of them were grossly overcharging them (a ride for $0.50 was appropriate, but they were charging a minimum of $1.50). When they finally found a rickshaw for the right price, they knew they had to specify one more thing: They explained that they didn't want to go and stop somewhere else along the way. Many times rickshaw drivers in tourist cities will bring passengers to other stores along the way to make a commission from store owners if the passengers buy anything. Well, the rickshaw driver responded: "You can't possibly go without stopping at one of the shops!" The volunteers laughed, and were walking away, and the rickshaw driver said, "Well, you don't have to buy anything but you must stop at these shops!" When the volunteers continued walking away, the rickshaw driver realized that they were serious, and so finally he decided to take them for the correct price without stopping at the shops! Many times just being brave and standing up to the rickshaw drivers will avoid unwanted situations, and they really do respond to people with strong wills! I attached a photo they took while they went to see Qutab Minar a second time while they were in Delhi.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Our medical volunteers participating with Aim Abroad went to two different hospitals today, the pediatric hospital and the maternity hospital. At the pediatric hospital, the volunteers helped the hospital staff by helping feed the babies in the nursery, taking the children's temperatures, taking the children's blood pressures, measuring the children's height and weight, and listening with a stethoscope to the children's breathing patterns and heartbeats. The volunteers were also able to take blood samples and give injections, but they were not trained to do so, and were not comfortable with learning the practice; however, they did mention that the hospital staff is happy to train the volunteers to become proficient in those skills. The volunteers at the maternity hospital said that they spent a lot of time with the head surgeon of the hospital discussing different cases. Although they did not encounter any interesting cases, the maternity hospital had a different ultrasound machine, compared to the ultrasound machine at the clinic where most volunteers learn about the practice. The volunteers learned how to read the ultrasound output from a very different type of machine and did observe a few patients with the machine. They were able to tell that the patients were doing well, with their newfound knowledge of the practice of reading the ultrasound machine. All in all, the volunteers described they learned a lot today, and look forward to more volunteering at these local hospitals in India while they are with Aim Abroad.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Two volunteers staying at a local orphanage with Aim Abroad went out and brought some ice cream for the children at the orphanage! They have been with the program for a few weeks now, and they have grown really fond of the children at the orphanage. Staying at the orphanage, the volunteers help teach the children, play with the children, and help with the maintenance of the orphanage as well. Most importantly, these children had been very deprived of love and attention before arriving at the orphanage, so the volunteers always feel that spending time with the orphans is the best way to volunteer. Bringing the ice cream for the children was a great way to interact with them, as they were all smiling, laughing, and sharing a wonderful moment together. The children also had never had ice cream before! So this was a really special treat for them, especially sharing the moment amongst each other!
Friday, June 4, 2010
A few medical volunteers who are with Aim Abroad went to the ultrasound clinic again today for gaining medical experience. As they had volunteered at the clinic before, they observed many of the routine cases for that clinic, but were now able to differentiate many of the different diagnoses. When the doctor uses the machine, she will examine a point in particular, and ask the volunteers questions, such as "What organ are we observing in the patient? Is there anything noticeable when contrasted to a healthy patient?" With the knowledge they have gained from working at the clinic in the past, the volunteers were able to detect different kidney stones and approximated the sizes. The doctor would also ask the volunteers about the appropriate treatments for each diagnosis, if they are familiar with such cases. When there are fewer patients, the doctor sometimes orders some chai for all of them, and they discuss different cases together. One interesting case for today though, was a patient who had come in for her first ultrasound checkup of her unborn child. The doctor confirmed that after six weeks the baby was healthy and on target for growth. The patient was so happy and left the clinic; afterwards, the doctor revealed to the volunteers that that particular patient had been having fertility problems and was unable to conceive. For the past few months the doctor had been treating the patient, and she finally had success with conception. The volunteers were really intrigued, and really felt that spending a few days at the clinic has already taught them so much regarding medicine and interacting with patients, and they feel very lucky to come and have this opportunity for volunteering with Aim Abroad!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Several volunteers with us went to the street children school to provide first aid for the children! When the volunteers arrived, the children were going through their morning routine exercises, which help teach discipline and stimulate them. Then, they all sang the Indian national anthem with such pride and joy! After they finished the anthem, they all separated into their respective classes and groups. The volunteers went to each class, one by one, and gave medicines to the children who were sick, such as cough medicine and stomach medicine. Additionally, they were treating skin conditions, which were very prevalent in many of the children as their living arrangements are far from hygienic. Some volunteers donated some toothbrushes and toothpaste to children who were having especially bad tooth conditions too. Then, once all of the medicine was distributed on the campus, one volunteer went to clip the nails of the children and to teach the importance of practicing hygiene as often as possible. Other volunteers played with the children or taught other classes at the school. One little girl was speaking to a volunteer for quite some time, as she explained that her favorite subject was English and she wanted to practice as much as possible!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
During the past few days we have been fairly busy at Aim Abroad! We have been teaching our language and culture program to a few volunteers, and have been taking the volunteers to the local temples and teaching about the local traditions that we practice in India. Alongside Indian cooking classes, where we taught the volunteers how to make pakoras, samosas, rotis, puris, upma, and kichree, the volunteers also practiced speaking some of their newly learned Hindi from the language instructor with me and my family. Fluent in English and Hindi, my eight-year old daughter particularly enjoyed helping the volunteers with their Hindi and English, which all of the volunteers thought was adorable! Besides for the language and culture program, we have been working with a local orphanage as well. I have posted two photos of the orphans and some helpers and volunteers with the orphans at the orphanage! The children there are very sweet, and the volunteers have been giving very good feedback about the orphanage and the stay they have had at this orphanage in particular!