Papers, Puppets, and Feet

Today was somewhat of a quiet day at CRHP as we all came to the startling realization that in the midst of experiencing India and CRHP, we had forgotten that our paper is due tonight! With all of the amazing opportunities we have had for exchange of culture and an exclusive look at global health and development, it is has been easy to overlook the importance of more than experiencing—reflecting. So, many of us (well, the procrastinators) began our day in the library or another quiet location on campus chewing over all that we have experienced thus far. Particularly we contemplated those isolated incidents which have really forced us to look internally and question those values and behaviors which we normally don’t give a second thought to. These are incidents that have weighed heavy on our minds every night as we’re trying to fall asleep—those that may have made us feel uncomfortable, unsure, or surprised at what we had experienced but nevertheless have challenged us to think in a new way or see something in a new light.

Although many of us were entrenched in thought, the day wasn’t all work and no play. This morning we gathered, for the second time, with the village health workers. To our surprise our time would be spent being entertained by puppet shows, songs in Marathi, and short skits. The Art Group, made up of several village health workers, perform these dramas at CRHP and in villages as a form of health education. An alternative to lectures, this form of entertainment is appealing to people in the villages. After watching and listening to the songs and skits, people are better informed of preventative health practices and are able to recognize signs and symptoms of illnesses and diseases. We watched a selection of skits about such issues as child marriage, mothers-in-law caring for daughters-in-law during pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and its prevention, and family planning.

Later in the afternoon we gathered to watch a demonstration about the construction of artificial limbs. The Jaipur Foot, developed in Jaipur, India, is an impressive technology that CRHP has brought to the people of this region. The limb is constructed out of several materials. The foot is rubber and is flexible enough to bend the way an actual foot does when walking. Cosmetically, it looks like a human foot! The leg and calf are made out of a soft metal. Although the metal is malleable during the fitting, it can be later hammered to become a hard, durable metal suitable for daily use. We met one of the night watchmen at CRHP who has a Jaipur Foot and he has only had to have it replaced 3 during the course of 25 years! The limb allows people most of the functionality of a real leg so they are able to return to work or other physical activity. If you would like to read more about the Jaipur Foot check out http://www.jaipurfoot.org/default.asp.

We are all very excited to go to the Ellora Caves tomorrow with our celebrity guest Dr. Lambert who is arriving tonight! Everyone is very much looking forward to venturing off of the CRHP campus for a few days and a nice, long shower!

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