Overcoming Backward Thinking

The staff at EHA hospitals deal with so much more than medical issues. They must constantly fight backward and oppressive ways of thinking, especially in rural areas. Here are a few vignettes from Madhipura Christian Hospital:

~ Harsha is part of the untouchables caste, also known as the rat-eaters. He is not allowed to attend school inside the building, but he may sit outside a window and listen. His father is not allowed to walk down the main road in their village.

~ Rachna gave birth to 13 daughters but refused to have her tubes tied. She knew she was of no value to her husband and he would leave her if she did not bear him a son. Rachna’s heart was not strong enough and she did not survive her 14th pregnancy. Her 13 daughters are now motherless.

~ Twelve-year-old Anima was brought into the outpatient department by her mother-in-law, who stridently exclaimed that Anima married her son 4 years before but there had been no baby yet. She demanded that Anima be examined to make sure she can bear children. This means, of course, that she married at the age of 8. In this area, it is not uncommon for girls of 18 or 19 to have already borne three children and had their tubes tied.

These prejudices and ways of thinking are ingrained in the villages surrounding Madhipura. It is a constant effort for the community workers to educate the people in healthier and more reasonable ways to think and act in order to improve their health and well-being.