Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Health Camp

This morning we had a chance to visit another project of Maitri's, Project Awaaz (voice). Awaaz brings health services and awareness, on issues such as HIV, TB, STIs, etc, to bike rickshaw pullers. The slum, which is home to approximately 2,000 rickshaw pullers and some of their family members, is located between two very none-telling streets, that host modern looking hotels, private doctors offices, posh shops. But turn down one discrete little road and suddenly you are in a huge open area, filled with people, rickshaws, tents. It was a whole working little community with a barber shop, tailor, one source of running water for over 2,000 people, little snack shops, fruit and veggie wallas (sellers).

The reason Maitri runs a health camp here is because most of these men are migrant works. While some families do live in this slum, most men come from villages where their families--wives and children, parents, etc--still live. As a migrant population they have a greater propensity toward behaviors like drug use and visiting sex workers, thus they run a higher risk for contracting HIV and STIs. The goal is awareness and testing. Condoms are given out, HIV testing is done, medications for simple ailments such as colds and the flu are provided and if more serious medical attention is needed Maitri will attempt to facilitate it.

The rickshaw slum.

The people.
At first I felt terrible about taking pictures. Wondering what right I had as a comfortable, privileged foreigner to tromp into their neighborhood to collect photos. But most of them were so into it! A group of young men followed our little group from the office around, telling us to take a picture of them, of her, of these kids, of this women. We always asked the people we were photographing, most agreed, but so often a shy women would blush and shake her head, so we didn't push it. Most of the kids were hesitant at first, but you could see behind their polite reservation that they were eager for the excitement and attention.

The smoking man above demanded we take his photo.

At the health clinic, the staff kept giving us various refreshments. First water, then soda, the a bag of peanuts. My goodness, we were just fine! Sometimes guest/foreigner privilege bothers me. Since I don't drink soda a prompted the little boy in blue and black to take it. The peanuts I have the stunning girl in orange. I love her hair and her smile, she exuded confidence and seemed to be there to reassure the little ones.

The heath clinic.

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