Saturday, April 30, 2005

Articles from

Thazhuguda Village in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
(Madhar Nala Thondu Niruvanam/MNTN)
Direct Relief’s Susan Fowler travelled in February and March on an assessment and evaluation trip to India and Thailand. Susan is a Senior Program Officer and an 18-year veteran of Direct Relief. She has been assigned to serve as coordinator for tsunami assistance.
Susan met with healthcare professionals and facility administrators at Direct Relief-supported facilities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala to evaluate their response activities and use of donated medical goods, and to develop near-term plans for assistance. She traveled to a number of tsunami-affected fishing villages in Kanchipuram District in Tamil Nadu with the director of the Hindu Mission Hospital located in Chennai.

Ceremony in Thazhaguda Village, site of MNTN Health Center.
Ceremony in Thazhaguda Village, site of proposed community health and welfare center

Tsunami Family
Husband and relatives lost in the Tsunami.The remaining family is now staying at Shelter (Susan Fowler on right)

Reconstruction underway at Silver Beach, Cuddalore.
Reconstruction underway at Silver Beach, Cuddalore

Tsunami damaged boat at Silver Beach, Cuddalore.
Tsunami damaged boat at Silver Beach, Cuddalore

Boats lay idle due to temporary government ban on fishing.
Boats lay idle due to temporary government ban on fishing

Our Partners: Madhar Nala Thondu Niruvanam
Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu

In India, I visited many of our healthcare partners, including Madhar Nala Thondu Niruvanam,
the Vishranti Home and Charitable Trust, the Hindu Mission Hospital, the Meenakshi Mission Hospital,
the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, and Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana.

Madhar Nala Thondu Niruvanam (MNTN) was established in 1981 to assess and improve the living conditions of rural women in the District of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. The organization’s program work focuses on the economic and social empowerment of impoverished women through “self-help” groups meant to foster income generating activities. There are currently over 1,200 self-help groups with over 22,000 members. MNTN also provides community-based health care as well as nutrition and maternal health education. In recent years, the organization has expanded its services to include free medical camps for underprivileged Cuddalore women, including cataract surgery camps, and mobile medicare units and housing for elderly or homeless women. The self-help groups, in combination with the more formal medical camps, aim to improve the health and raise their standard of living of impoverished women.

MNTN administers three residential facilities, including a home for elderly and destitute women, a short-stay home for victims of domestic violence, and an orphanage. These facilities are all built on a three-acre plot of land that was given to the organization by the District Collector. The residents tend a large garden and orchard on the property which furnish a significant percentage of their daily food needs. As these facilities are located on the top of a hill, villagers living along the coast who lost their homes in the tsunami were immediately offered shelter. Over 3,500 people were cared for at these residences before moving to government relief camps.

There were 55 villages in Cuddalore that were affected by the tsunami. Approximately 90 percent of the people in these villages make their living by fishing with the remaining 10 percent working in fields located close to the coast. With so many fishing boats and nets destroyed, and with much of the agricultural land saturated with salt and rendered unusable, villagers are at risk for malnutrition and specific micronutrient deficiencies. In an effort to address the shortage of protein, calories, and nutrients that could lead to serious health problems, MNTN distributed a large percentage of the protein biscuits, powdered milk, baby food, and other nutritional products that Direct Relief procured in India.

Unusable agricultural fields due to salination from sea water Additional tsunami response activity has concentrated on the treatment of injury and illness and the prevention of infection through medical camps which have been conducted in 14 villages in the affected coastal regions of Cuddalore, Kurijipadi, and Parangipettai. In addition, MNTN has established 20 centers for psycho-social counseling for children and has assisted with improving sanitation in affected villages.

Unusable agricultural fields due to salination from sea water
Unusable agricultural fields due to salination from sea water

MNTN was identified by Direct Relief’s India In-Country Coordinator, Mr. Seshadri Iyer. On his recommendation, Direct Relief helped to fund MNTN’s medical camps held in the months of January, February, and March. The organization has now submitted a tsunami response proposal requesting funds to build two community health centers in locations central to affected villages, purchase one medical mobile van, and continue the operation of weekly medical camps for a period of four months. The health centers would offer accessible health care for villages living along the coast, and MNTN estimates that a total of 16,000 people will be treated or served by the new health centers in the period of one year.

Plaque for Direct Relief-funded Community Healthcare Center

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