Herbertpur Christian Hospital
Wheels for the World...
Showing Brotherly Love
In the Wheels for the World program, run by Joni and Friends (JAF), wheelchairs are made available in different parts of the world, and a team of volunteers travels to assess, modify, and fit wheelchairs for people with disabilities. In October 2015, the first Wheels for the World program in North India took place. JAF worked with their Indian partner, Operation Equip India, the Community Health Global Network (Uttarakhand chapter), as well as the Engage Disability team with EHA members. Herbertpur Christian Hospital was chosen as the venue because it was near Dehradun, North India, was central to access, and had the appropriate facilities. Overall, 210 wheelchairs, 46 sets of crutches, 42 walkers, and 32 canes were distributed. The following article by Anneliese Petersen, a Wheaton College biology student interning at Landour Community Hospital, tells the story of this wheelchair distribution through fresh eyes.
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." (Romans 12:9-13).
These past weeks I was struck by the idea of truly loving others. I think that we, working in a mission hospital, are certainly people who love. We recognize that the poor and marginalized need additional care and support, and we are eager to give it. But I find that, at least personally, I do so only to the point at which it is comfortable for me. I love others when it is easy, when it is uncomplicated, when it is fulfilling. But the Scriptures say to love genuinely. To love as a brother, to show great honor, to be fervent and not slothful.
A few weeks ago, there was a massive Wheel Chair Distribution (WCD) taking place at Herbertpur Christian Hospital. I had the joy of attending with a team from Landour Community Hospital to see the work that was being done. I was awed by the fullness of care that was being given, and found that the WCD model really was a reflection of this verse from Romans.
Patients with significant disabilities came from all over the region, each one having been sought out and assisted by a pastor in their community. This provided a local contact and support. The pastor represented someone from the patient's community making a commitment to come alongside and love the patient, long term. More so than just neighborly kindness, they were showing brotherly love to the disabled in their villages.
Upon arrival, the patients were met personally by both a physical and an occupational therapist. These volunteers worked to understand the individual needs of the patient, and to prescribe the most adequate wheelchair for each situation. Mechanics and builders then discussed with the therapist and customized wheelchairs there on the spot. Many patients had come in on old, uncomfortable wheelchairs that had clearly been donated. Nothing could match the look of joy on their faces as they transitioned into new wheelchairs that comfortably matched their needs. Were the old wheelchairs bad? Certainly not. Sometimes we can only do so much, and a simple wheelchair is better than none at all. But these clean, customized wheelchairs reminded me of the call to "Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord." In just seeking to get by, in donating uncomfortable wheelchairs, we miss out on the opportunity to give others the best that is available. These new wheelchairs gave great honor to the patients, and reflected a deep, fervent, brotherly concern for the patients' welfare.
I was reminded of how, in my own city of Chicago, I often get my leftover restaurant food packed to give to the homeless men on the street. Certainly, they are grateful. They need food. But how much more honoring would it be if I were to buy a cheaper meal for myself, and buy a second of the same for them? Thus, rather than giving away my leftovers, I would be able to give new, untouched, personal food. This is fervent love, in contrast to the slothful love of giving only what we don't desire ourselves.
Finally, after being fitted with a new wheelchair, each patient met with a counselor, physiatrist, or social worker. These individuals set out to rejoice in the hope of a new chair, be patient in the affliction of talking through each patient's struggles and challenges, and be constant in prayer as each patient was told about Christ and his deep, unwavering, honoring love for them. And, of course, there was a huge meal served. What better way to show hospitality?
So I pray that we hold this image in our minds and hearts as we serve our neighbors. May we love genuinely, with brotherly affection, fervently honoring those around us. May we rejoice in the hope we find in the Lord, weep with the afflictions of others, and, above all, constantly seek the Lord in prayer each and every day. For in Him alone do we find peace, strength, and joy for the journey ahead.
Training Up the Next Generation...
Herbertpur Nursing School
Herbertpur Christian Hospital began its nursing school three years ago. They have 30 students in each session, half from the government and half who come on their own as Christians. They were initially hesitant to accept government students, but it has turned out to be a form of outreach, with three students recently accepting the Lord. The instructors work hard to teach the students values and develop them as people.
Typically, the training process for both doctors and nurses in India is very selfish with a focus on self-promotion: how to pass the exams, get a great job, and make as much money as possible. But at Herbertpur Nursing School, the instructors strive to teach their students how to be caring and compassionate with all patients. They learn how to demonstrate their values in their speech, attitudes, and actions. In their second year, the nursing students go to visit and learn from another hospital, and they are immediately recognized as being different. They are among the best students and are sought after upon graduation because others have a positive professional opinion of them. Even though the pay is significantly lower, most of these nursing students choose to stay within EHA upon graduation, but those who do go elsewhere are sent out as salt and light.
They also have a one-month pre-nursing curriculum called Dilase (“from the heart”) that the students go through to set the tone before they begin nursing courses. They have trained tutors to teach this curriculum that focuses on values, commitment, and personal development. They have now used this curriculum for all nursing staff, not just students, and are considering requiring this curriculum for the doctors as well.
Herbertpur is currently putting up the infrastructure for a new building for the nursing school, partially financed by the efforts of Living Truth ministries. The second phase will include a new building with a student cafeteria and hostel. The cost will be about $23,000, and supporters in Switzerland are funding half of this project so far.
The cost of a year of nursing school for each student is 65,000 rupees, or $1,000. The addition of food and housing brings the cost to 100,000 rupees, or $1,500. Despite the fact that this amount wouldn't pay for one biology class in a US nursing program, this is significantly more than many young women’s families can raise, so often they are given partial support from the school. Students who are promising and who deserve the help are admitted despite being short on finances. The chance to become a nurse provides a pathway out of poverty for these women, and they often have no other option for schooling that will help them obtain a professional job like nursing. And often, once a young woman becomes a nurse and begins to earn money, she will help support her parents and siblings. So when you help a young woman become a nurse, you are not only helping her and her future patients, you are helping a whole family rise out of poverty.
If you would like to give to help fund the new nursing facilities, or to support a young women desiring to better her life and the life of her family, you can go to our donations page and choose the Nursing Education Fund in the drop-down menu.
At Herbertpur Christian Hospital...
Caring for the Disabled
Every parent of a disabled child knows that many aspects of life will be more challenging for them, whether the disability is physical or mental. In the US, we have a plethora of treatment options, both through the public school system and through private therapies. In India, if you have a disabled child, not only are there few treatment options, but parents also suffer from severe prejudice against their child. The belief system in India focuses heavily on the concept of karma, so those with disabled children are thought to have done something wrong in their previous lives that caused their child to be punished with this affliction. Disability is looked upon as a curse and a cause for shame, and the level of shame is based on the severity of the disability. Those with disabilities are often hidden at home so the shame is not exposed. People believe that it is a bad omen to spend time around a disabled person. On a spiritual plane, parents are told to pray to their gods for their child's healing, and when it does not come about, they are told they don't have enough faith. Sometimes the child's disability is even blamed on the sin of the parent. They even go so far as to say the disabled child is afflicted with an evil spirit and then try to use black magic to evict it.
In order to address these issues, Dr. Jubin Varghese at Herbertpur Christian Hospital began Anugraha, a Community Health and Development Program focused on disabled individuals. Anugraha began by focusing on children and then grew to include disabled adults. Their learning center operates in the village two or three days a week, providing therapy, life skills development, and support. They have a five-pronged approach: health, education, livelihood, social needs, and involvement. The health component focuses on physical and occupational therapy as well as orthotics and other needed equipment. If a child can be mainstreamed, they work with the government schools to help provide disabled children a solid education by making sure they have the basic skills for learning. For older disabled people, they try to help them find a livelihood by introducing them to groups who have income-generating projects. For their social needs, they connect them with the governing body in the village so that they can communicate their needs and be recognized as a village member. Another important aspect is helping people with different disabilities be involved in one another's lives. Dr. Varghese has also assisted in the development of disability programs at five other EHA hospitals: Landour Community, Duncan, Baptist Christian, Chattarpur Christian, Nav Jivan, and Kacchwa Christian Hospital.
Dr. Varghese has learned the hard way that her team must not focus simply on advocacy and the rights of the disabled, looking at people as projects to be fixed. Rather, they must be more focused on relationships, because relationships are what will change the culture. Disabled people need to make friends with non-disabled people, and they often need help for this to happen because of the prejudice against them. Even the church tends to believe what the culture tells them. Dr. Varghese has worked with churches to help them understand that they are central to reaching out to the disabled. They need to help others understand that disability is not a curse or a result of sin, but simply a condition a person struggles with. If the church reaches out to the disabled in love, they will have a window to share the gospel with this rejected group.
Through a Smile and a Wave...
God Works Through Disability
Pastor Inderamani and his family came to Herbertpur Christian Hospital for a week to participate in the counseling and support offered through the Anugrah Disability Project. His daughter, Grace, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, and he was struggling to see what God’s purpose was in her infirmity. By the end of his stay, Pastor Inderamani was determined respond to his situation by reaching out into the community to help others. He went back to his church and spoke to the members, and they decided to hold a disability meeting once a week to which parents of children with disabilities would be invited. At these meetings, people began to learn more about disabilities as the families spent time together and shared their life stories.
Pastor Inderamani was thankful for the support this new ministry was providing to these families, but he was still struggling to see how God would be glorified in the difficulties his daughter faced. But then something exciting happened. Grace spent part of each day outside on the patio in her wheelchair. While she couldn’t speak, Grace would wave and smile at those going by. One lady saw her wave every evening and eventually stopped to ask the pastor what was wrong with his daughter. Their conversation led to the sharing of the gospel, and now this woman attends the pastor’s church and is a believer. So even though his daughter could not speak, God used Grace to bring this woman and her family to belief. Pastor Inderamani could now see a redemptive purpose to Grace’s condition, and he began to feel that it was not such a burden. His faith has been stretched to believe that God is good even in the very difficult circumstances of life.
Through an Amazing EHA Team...
The Lame Shall Walk
The name Milan means "to bring together" in Hindi. The young man named Milan who came to EHA for help certainly brought together an amazing team. At the age of 26, he had been experiencing back and hip pain for 10 years. His hips were beginning to fuse together which would prevent him from working in manual labor and devastate his family.
Milan and his medical team
He needed a hip replacement in both hips -- a major undertaking. He was told to travel to Herbertpur Christian Hospital 3,000 km (1900 miles) away -- an almost impossible feat for a poor young Indian man. But Milan had enough faith to travel to the other end of India where the language and culture would be totally different -- and enough faith to put his life in the hands of a medical team he had only heard about. He had only $2,000 of the $5,000 needed for the hip implants, and planned to sell the only plot of land his family owned to make up the difference. Staff at Herburtpur refused to allow him to do so, trusting God to make up the difference.
At the time of his surgery, a renowned orthopedist from the southern-most state in India was visiting Herbertpur, and he offered his services. Milan stayed 90 days and went through two major surgeries and a host of other issues along the way -- and he saw God provide again and again. The staff rushed to get blood when he needed it, and they prayed for him when he felt depressed. Others gave to meet his financial needs.
Milan, through his step of faith in travelling so far in the hope of being able to walk again truly brought everyone together, reminding us once again of the enormous need there is for the type of care EHA provides. The trust patients like Milan have in EHA causes staff to go the extra mile to help bring healing. The day Milan walked out of the hospital on his own was a day of joy for all to see.
One Girl Experiences...
A Chance for Mobility
Naaziya and a friend
She had been coming to the Jassowala Learning Center for therapy for her cerebral palsy, but then her family moved to the other side of the river. At seven years of age, Naaziya struggled to walk. Herbertpur staff continued to visit her at her home once a week for therapy.
Eventually she was able to get around independently with a walker. What a thrill it was for her to shop in the neighborhood on her own and to begin attending the local school. Now Naaziya feels she is included in society and dreams of her future as every other child does!
Through a Mental Health Project...
Freedom Is Found
Rihana was a 17-year-old student who developed a headache one day. Soon after that, she began behaving in an unusual manner. Her family was concerned and brought her to a community doctor. Her strange symptoms continued, with Rihana often muttering to herself and laughing loudly. Others thought perhaps she was possessed by an evil spirit, so they took her to a witchcraft practitioner, but no improvement was observed.
|Rihana (fourth from left) with her family
After the family had spent a lot of money on medical care and strong medication, Rihana was still often bedridden. At this point, Herbertpur staff in the Community Health and Development Department heard about her story. They convinced the family to give one last option a chance, and Rihana was brought to Herbertpur Christian Hospital where she was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder. She was put on medication with counseling support.
After three months of medication, Rihana's family could see a dramatic change in her health. With continued monitoring and care, she became stable and began regaining her abilities. Because of this, the family's and community's attitude toward mental illness changed. People in the community understand that mental illness is treatable if not curable. Now Rihana is back in school, and her family is full of joy.
Through Community Health Programs...
Literacy: A Step Toward Empowerment of Women
Imagine being a girl and being told there is no need for you to go to school because you will just be caring for your family when you grow up. Imagine being told that you might be influenced by an "outsider," so you cannot go to classes. Imagine not being able to voice your concerns or opinions.
In India, the overall literacy rate is 74%, but for women it is just 65%. In many areas of north India the rate is far lower. Thanks to a Community Health Program at Herbertpur Christian Hospital, a group of village girls has earned the right to gain knowledge and study for a better life. They've also been exposed to the love of God!
These girls had been gathering in the village center for literacy classes when Hindu religious leaders expressed opposition and villagers began causing problems for the center. This caused the literacy teacher to leave. Refusing to give up, the group of girls banded together and decided to continue the center on their own, asking one of the girls to continue to teach them.
Seeing the determination and zeal of the girls to study and gain knowledge, the religious leaders gave in and requested the teacher to return. So this EHA literacy program will continue to help these girls move toward an educated future, empowering them to take charge of their lives.
Healing of Body and Soul
Amputee Finds God Faithful
Living life as an amputee is always difficult. Living life missing parts of two legs would present even greater challenges. Dara Singh, only 27 years old, had already lost his right leg below the knee. After developing pain indicating gangrene in his left foot, he knew he was likely to lose part of that leg as well. He begged the HCH staff to save his limb.
During his various visits, he told the doctor, "God will definitely heal me. Please do a forefoot amputation." The doctors agreed and told him that only God can heal. Amazingly, the forefoot healed.
Dara began to attend the nearby church and made a decision to follow God. During his two-month stay at the hospital, he encouraged many fellow patients.
Thanks to EHA donors like you, he was able to stay at the hospital free of charge. The staff were able to fit him with a prosthesis which means he will be able to work and earn a living. He is now ready to begin a new phase of his life.
About Herbertpur Christian Hospital
In 1936, Dr. Geoffrey Lehmann and his wife, Monica, came to Herbertpur with a desire to begin a medical mission where God would be preached about. Initially, he held a medical clinic each morning on a tea planter’s veranda. Eventually, he discovered a plot of land where three tea estates met, purchased the land, and began to build Herbertpur Christian Hospital, commonly known as Lehmann Hospital. The Lehmanns’ passion was to serve the poor and marginalized and to see the kingdom of God established in the surrounding districts and hill areas. They chose Luke 9:2, “Preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick,” to put on the front of the hospital. Dr. Lehmann’s concern over having so many patients with eye disease go untreated caused him to seek more education in Ophthalmology and begin eye camps. Many patients with TB also came to the hospital from across the mountains. As the Lehmann’s grew older, they began to pray for missionaries to take over the work they had begun. In 1973, Dr. Lehmann joyfully handed over HCH to EHA’s management and leadership. His last request to his successors was “that no patient be turned away because they cannot afford the treatment, and no patient should leave the hospital without hearing about God.”
Today, Herbertpur Christian Hospital offers services in the specialties of pediatric surgery, pediatrics, orthopedics, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, dentistry, clinical psychology and counseling, physio and occupational therapy, as well as a program for children with special needs. Their many Community Health Programs serve to provide rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy, to improve literacy, to increase health awareness, to offer HIV testing, and to provide care for TB patients.
In the future, Herbertpur hopes to develop a blood bank facility so that patients will always have their needs met. They also plan to build a new 150-bed inpatient facility to provide quality care and a favorable environment for patients. Developing a nursing school is another goal due to the shortage of nurses and nurse midwives in rural north India. Throughout this planning, the HCH staff are thankful to God for his faithfulness in the midst of their challenges and struggles over the years.