National Ambulance BME Forum Mission to India Report
The Mission to India Project was an idea of Dennis Moss a long time member of the National Ambulance BME Forum, 18 Months ago thought about, when on first hand he saw how School Children in Jamshedpur North India lacked Basic First Aid Skills to save a person’s life.
He approached many Schools in Jamshedpur with his idea in mind, and eventually Father David Vincent the Principal of St Mary’s English High School, Bistupur Jamshedpur agreed with this project of delivering Basic First Aid Training, and Father David invited Teachers from other
Schools in Jamshedpur to take part.
September 29th. So after Months of planning, and personal financial commitments and fund raising events, and putting together a training programme, the day finally arrived and Team India Dennis Moss, Ricky Lawrence, Martyn Clements, Sam Grimson, Neville Levy, Anand M Pillai and Parvinda Singh a member of the Asian Fire Service Association all met at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 to catch our flight to Delhi. There was an air of excitement and anticipation with the challenge that lay ahead, but laden down with our diverse selection of cases and bags, we check in and board the flight to Delhi and so we are off.
September 30th. We arrive in Delhi on the Morning of September 30th, tired and excited that we have arrived safely and we were conveyed to our Hotel. The heat is already getting to us, and we were given bottles of water. For some of the members of the group it was their first experience in India, and to experience what driving is like in India. Its different and one becomes conscious of the noise and realise that everyone is blowing their car horn as they negotiate around and pass another road user. Its certainly chaotic and coming up to a roundabout, the driver does not even attempt to look right let alone give way to the right and we are on the roundabout. We eventually we arrive at our Hotel in one peace.
There was no time to rest that Afternoon, as we were taken on a guided tour of Delhi visiting Humayun’s Tomb where the Emperor Humayun was laid to rest. Also on the way back to the Hotel we had an opportunity to take photos of India Gate in Delhi.
October 1st. We were up early on October 1st, as we were to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. This was a three hour drive, and just getting out of Delhi was an experience, at first seeing many people of varying ages asleep on the pavements. For some members of the group they felt this was quite disturbing. Then of cause there was the traffic, and one could hardly move and drivers seemed to be driving as they wanted, even on the wrong side of the road, even though they have a Highway Code Book, the drivers did not follow the rules, always blowing their horns and occupying the little bit of vacant road they wanted.
Eventually we arrived in Agra, and were provided with a tour guide which the driver had arranged. Our tour guide escorted us through the security system and into the grounds of this famous wonder of the World. To get to the Taj Mahal, we walked down a straight road into a courtyard with three separate identical gates on three sides. The guide told us to go through the gate that was behind us, and as we did there in front of us was the Taj Mahal which we all found literally breathtaking, as it was the first time most of the group had this opportunity to see it for themselves. As Neville felt it was not called a great wonder of the World for nothing.
The grounds around and leading up to this great Mausoleum complimented this brilliant white structure, which has symmetrical grassed area divided into quarters by straight long pools of water with bordered line of trees. The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his cherished Wife and stands on the Southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra. On one side of the Taj are red sandstone Mosques and on the other side an identical building called a Jawab or mirror on the opposite side.
We also saw but did not visit the Red Fort which is near to the Taj Mahal.
Members of the group were amazed how persistent the street sellers outside the Taj Mahal were. Then after Lunch we were taken to a stone works factory to see how they make the marble stones. Whilst we waited for our minibus the group again were amazed to see a cow walking up the middle of the road without a care in the World and also a herd of cows on the opposite side of the road, and they were in no danger as the cow is sacred in India.
So ended our two Night stay in Delhi.
October 2nd. So on Friday October 2nd, we returned to Delhi Airport for our flight to Kolkata where we stayed for two Nights. At one time Kolkata was the Capital of India when the British ruled there. The city is busy and the roads are jammed with traffic and people everywhere.
The next day October 3rd we visited Victoria Memorial and the grounds leading up to the building were again breathtaking, and the group were amazed to see such a lovely building which is now a Musuem.
October 4th. Was the day we were leaving Kolkata for Jamshedpur in the State of Jharkhand. We travelled by train as most of the group had never experienced train travel in India, and to them it was an adventure. We had booked first class, but its not the same standard as in the UK. It was comfortable, and we had allocated seats with bunks. The train journey from Kolkata to Jamshedpur took four hours travelling through the countryside and passing trackside Villages.
We eventually arrived in Jamshedpur and we were met by Father David the Principal of St Mary’s English High School who took us to our Hotel the Alcor Hotel, where we had a slight rest before meeting Dennis’s Relatives Pam and Avon and Family and friends at their house where they entertained us that Sunday Evening.
October 5th. We had a day of rest and apart from sorting out money, we went over the training programme for the coming Week. Again that Evening we were entertained by Pam and Avon at their house.
October 6th. The first Morning of our training programme we had to be at St Mary’s English High School for 07:30AM which is a short walking distance from the Hotel. Father David the Principal of the School was there to meet us all, along with Sister Marion who welcomed us to the School, and a group of School Children dressed in yellow and orange Sarees who performed a welcome dance, then as we made our way upstairs to the hall, children were dressed in each State of India costume holding a sign of the State costume they were representing. As we entered the hall we were welcomed by a round of applause and by one of the Teachers, and we sat through a wonderful cultural performance of dance and music and song by the pupils and we were accepted as friends during a traditional ritual of orange dye on our foreheads and given handmade garlands. The group all felt overwhelmed and touched by the welcome they gave us.
It was time to start and we had a group of 20 Children that attended day one of our training
who were very willing to learn new skills. The group of 20 Children were from Year 7 to 8 grade students. To break the ice, Ricky decided to teach the group the Mexican Wave, at first it was confusing, but the students soon got the gist of it. Then Ricky went on to open the session introducing the three P’s and then D R A B C definitions, then moved onto the unconscious patient. It was later revealed to us by Father David that the children felt that we would look down at them as second class citizens. We asked one of the children to lay on the floor to demonstrate an unconscious patient, but there was a reluctance from the children, so therefore one of our team members lay on the floor for the unconscious patient demonstration which broke down barriers they had conceived. We split the class into four groups of five, and rotated them round our workstations around the hall, where each team member taught the following subjects, Head Injuries Dennis, Choking/Asthma Neville, Burns/Scalds Parvinda, Wounds/Dressings Ricky and Diabetes/Fitting Sam. A good idea Ricky thought of was a C P R relay for the children who saw it to be exciting and very competitive for the students and they all enjoyed it.
Afterwards we were given Lunch by the staff of the School which consisted of rice and chicken curry dish and a veg dish and for afters ice cream followed by fruit.
Even though it was a long day, we all felt the first day was a success, that the students we taught had learnt skills that will save their friends life. Also at the end the students had their time with photos/selfies. This first day of training was the first time that the team had got together to deliver the training package which went well, as the team worked together and supported each other in the various work stations. It was an excellent first day and could not have been better.
That Afternoon after returning to the Hotel for a little while, we then were taken to Bhilai Pahah Hospital which is an infectious disease Hospital supported by the Catholic Church. On the site they also run an orphanage for children, and we were greeted by a group of young children who had learnt a song which they sang in English. Then we were given a tour of the grounds and saw a large pond with various large fishes in, a few paddy fields, also a School and we were able to see Water Pumps that had been installed by AFSA and Thornhill Football Club in Cardiff who had raised money to install a pump in previous Years. We tested them and they still are working.
October 7th. Well Day two began with the team arriving at St Mary’s School for the Morning Assembly at 07:30AM. Father David the on day one mentioned to the team that he had received many complaints from pupils who were unhappy that they were not included in the welcome ceremony to welcome us or the training. So his suggestion was to attend the Assembly, so that’s just what we did, and we arrived at 07:30AM, and upon our arrival we saw many young pupils all lined up in rows of 1000 in total and all neatly dressed in their uniform. The pupils take the Assembly themselves, giving thanks to the Lord. We the whole team were the centre of attention as we were introduced to the entire School.
So this day two we were teaching the teachers from three separate Schools in Jamshedpur. So the team followed the same format as on day one, but we added one more subject Anaphylaxis and Shock. The second day went very well, and the C P R relay race was very competitive as the previous day. We ended the second day reinforcing the objective that they are now tooled to pass on the skills that they have learnt to other teachers, pupils and their relatives. We informed the teachers that the First Aid Books that the team used would be left with Father David to be made available to their Schools. Day two was another fantastic day held by all.
October 8th. Well Day three of our training programme we had an early start, as we left our Hotel at 07:15AM, to travel to SundarNagar to a Social Workers Training Centre. We were accompanied by Father David. When we arrived at the training centre, Father David introduced us to the staff, the priest and sisters on the site. Also he introduced us to the teachers who seemed a little shy, so Ricky broke the ice with the Mexican wave. As the first two days went, today’s training went smoothly and the teachers and social workers learnt so much from our training package, hopefully they will pass that knowledge on to other teachers in their schools and pupils and the same for the social workers. We explained that the First Aid books that we had used during that day would be handed out to a teacher from each school to take back to their respective schools, and also the same for the social workers.
After the day’s training session we were given a lovely lunch and yet a pleasant feast.
October 9th. Day four of our training programme began when we had to be at St Mary’s School at 07:25AM, and we were to teach some of the older pupils. First of all we all meet Father David at the lower school and we all walked over to the upper school where the Morning Assembly for the upper school took place, and Ricky got everyone including the teachers to do the Mexican wave. Also we interrupted a football training session of the school team, and some members of the team took part in the football game, before we walked to the other site to begin the days training programme. The enthusiasm of the pupils that we taught that day to learn new skills so they would be able to save their friends life, mirrored the enthusiasm of the previous students from Year 7 to 8. It was a great Morning and another enjoyable day was had by everyone of the team.
Again we had a lovely lunch provided by the sisters of St Mary’s School.
October 10th. This was our fifth and final day of our training programme, and we were requested to be at St Mary’s School for 07:30AM and so we were. We were to deliver the training for the first hour to the entire 92 Teachers of St Mary’s School. When we arrived at the School, we were presented with a cultural programme performed by the children, a cultural dance and folk law of the culture of Jharkand it was very moving. After the cultural programme was performed, we were presented with lovely gifts of a shawl and crystal plaque. Once again we were overwhelmed with the generosity of these people.
Today was our biggest challenge, even though we stipulated a maximum of 20 Teachers at the session, we had 92 Teachers from both sites of the school who were told to attend today on their day off to be taught on our training programme. So after the initial session we reduced the class to 22 Teachers from both sites of the school. So the last day again went well with the enthusiasm from the 22 teachers willing to learn the skills we taught them, for them to be able to teach their fellow teachers and pupils and friends and Families. The day was full of enjoyable participation from all.
Again at lunch the Sisters of the School provided us with a very lovely lunch which we enjoyed.
After returning to our Hotel in the Afternoon, there was no time to rest as Dennis’s Family and friends took us to have a tour of Tata Motors which is one of the major employers in Jamshedpur. Its where they make brand new trucks and we saw how they tested the trucks on the test track before the trucks go out of the factory. It was an enjoyable Afternoon.
October 11th. Well today the team relaxed before we left Jamshedpur on the Monday. Again Dennis’s Family and friends took us to see a dam nearby and we had a boat ride on the lake which was very enjoyable. In the Evening both Neville and I attended the Catholic Church Service at Father David’s Church that he is priest at, and the service was wonderful and moving and Father David welcomed both Neville and I in his Address to his congregation. After the service we joined our fellow team members at Dennis’s Family house for our last meal with his lovely Family who entertained us most of the Week.
October 12th. So now we departed Jamshedpur after a very successful Week of delivering our training programme of Basic First Aid to the teachers of St Mary’s English High School and teachers from three other schools in Jamshedpur and to the teachers and social workers and the pupils of St Mary’s English High School. We left with very fond memories of the Week, and feedback from everyone that they would like us to return again to deliver the same training programme.
We as a team felt the time we had in India went well, and for those of our team who had never visited India until now it was an eye opener for them. We all in team India had a great and successful time.