A serious problem in the schools is the children’s low degree of hygiene. This is caused by very basic problems such as lack of water supplies and not having enough money to buy soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. The result is that the children have skin problems and bad teeth. In an attempt for improving the situation, we contacted Chettinad private hospital and organized a Health Camp where the doctors and nurses from the hospital visited 9 schools in the area of Mahabalipuram and examined 1200 children.
Originally, the idea was to bring the children by bus to the hospital and have them checked there. However, this was not accepted by the parents who were concerned about rumours of children being abused in connection with organ donation. Initially, the parents were generally against the children being medically examined without the presence of their parents, but with unrelenting assistance from Swami Mike, the local, respected, holy man and tourist guide, we finally succeeded in obtaining permission to perform the examinations at the schools.
The doctors and nurses from the hospital performed the examination, a huge task, free of charge. The hospital even provided the transport to the hospital for the children who needed treatment together with their parents. Our part was the payment for the actual treatment in addition to the needed medicine. We carefully supervise the cost of the treatment and like to stress that we get surprisingly much for our money. 400 of the 1200 children that were examined were declared in need of treatment and were treated at the hospital – primarily dental work. The project attracted much attention and was reported in a documentary on the most popular south Indian television channel. The will to help does exist in India, but to channel it into action, clear organisational management is needed.