Friday, July 1, 2011

The Tippy Tap Health Education Project

The cute kids at the slums washing
their hands after we built the Tippy Tap
Tippy Tap Project

According to UNICEF an estimated 1.5 million children die annually from diarrhea related issues. A large portion of these deaths occur in the country of India. The WHO estimates that everyday nearly 1,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. Nearly half of these deaths could have been prevented through the use of soap. Unfortunately, It is not the lack of access to soap, but the lack of understanding about the importance of proper hand washing, germs, and soap that contributes to the problem.
In the slums, these have limited knowledge and access to adequate health education. As a result, their idea of hand washing is ineffective being that it is simply rinsing hands in the still water filled with bacteria and in some cases worms. This allows for the transmission of deadly bacteria that is either in the water or not effectively scrubbed off with soap. In addition, our  project will also be addressing the transmission and prevention of other infectious diseases such as TB, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, etc.
I am so excited for this project, especially after being there in the first place to build soilets which led to, "What happens after the use of the soilet? How do they wash their hands?" We saw no soap there at all and I had noticed that some of the children had sores on their faces. The kids here are the most energetic happiest and most thoughtful children I have ever met and very polite. All of them come and shake our hands and the little boys will go pick flowers to give to us while the girls just want to grab my hands and pull me along with them everywhere! What really got to my heart though was when these two little sisters who had stayed by my side the whole time started to give me their toys to take with me. I was so humbled, these girls have absolutely nothing and yet, they were willing to give me their toys. I couldn't accept them and I told them I would be back and to keep them until I came back and we could all play with them!

I want to do everything I can to help these children and families! We were guided to the organization SAPED who is working on these particular slums and they had done a lot of work on the square foot gardens, another project of ours. It had been introduced to this organization a few years back and they have already built 5,000 gardens with a goal to build 10,000 in the next few years. This is why we are so anxious to introduce the Tippy Tap and Soilet idea and teach them how to build and maintain these for sustainability. SAPED,  works primarily in the slums surrounding Hyderabad, India. We are hoping that by introducing the tippy tap to this organization and it is implemented it will help to reduce the number of diarrheal deaths as well as other preventable diseases occuring in the slums. One of the best parts about the tippy tap is that anyone can make it because it is made of sticks, string, a plastic container, a nail, and a match.
The kids were so excited to have clean hands!

After building our first tippy tap as a pilot study to assess the best way to educate the residents in the slums in response to reducing deadly diarrheal diseases, our team realized that we needed to go beyond just building the tippy taps to educating these individuals and families on the basic healthy hygiene practices.
This is where our health education project came in to play. For the remainder of our time here, we will be partnering with SAPED in conducting health education classes for the residents within the slums.  Some of the educational material includes, germs, germ transmission, proper hand washing techniques, how to build and maintain a tippy tap and diarrheal as well as other infectious easily transmitted diseases.  
During the process of holding these education classes we will be training local health leaders to hold theses health education classes to the point that they are able to confidently carry the remaining classes out while we are there supporting and evaluating the progress and needs of our project. By the end of this project our goal is to have SAPED to be able to sustain and continue to train health educators on this project and who will then have the skills necessary to educate other rural areas throughout India in building Tippy Taps and holding the health education classes.

The reason I am so passionate about this is that diarrheal and other infectious diseases are completely preventable!!! By simply washing and scrubbing your hands with soap and water. All we need to do is educate these amazing people about germs and why hand washing is so important and their health and capacity of life will improve drastically!
Here is the Tippy Tap Video on how it easy it can be made and how many lives it can save!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Over the past few weeks, Melanie, Ashlee, and I have been working with CARPED to create a sustainable public health program to reduce the number of unnecessary hysterectomies among women in rural villages. If done correctly, this project will be applied throughout the country of India. Subhash, the director of CARPED, was one of the first people to recognize this problem. After several months of documentation and research, CARPED has estimated that in rural villages approximately 1 out 10 women under the age of 40 has received an unnecessary hysterectomy, some even as young as 19.

This problem stems from a lack of health education among the women, greedy doctors, and neglect from government hospitals due to the caste system.  As a result, these women turn to “quack” doctors who make themselves easily accessible. These doctors tell patients that their simple stomach aches or minor vaginal problems are life threatening and can only be solved through an emergency hysterectomy, when in fact, many of these medical issues could be treated through pharmaceuticals.  As a result of the hysterectomy and the sudden hormonal imbalance it causes, these women begin to suffer from an early onset of diseases normally developed later in life, i.e. cvd and osteoporosis.
The repercussions of getting a hysterectomy are so severe, that the woman is no longer able to care for her family due to being worse off after the surgery and creating a huge debt. Some women who receive hysterectomies do not realize they will not be able to have children, as a result their husbands will leave them, especially when they have become sicker due to not have their actual problem addressed.  The circumstances surrounding these operations are what drive the HELP India team to create a public health and educational awareness program. Through awareness education it is our goal to prevent these women from receiving unnecessary hysterectomies. Healthier women make healthier families. Healthier families create healthier communities. With this vision it is truly easy to see how this is every ONE’s problem.

Here is a link to a news story on this problem

Friday, May 27, 2011

Golconda Fort

Our second day here we had the privilege of going to Golconda Fort. Thanks to the Glory family who are members in our ward here with the cutest little girls who have surprisingly excellent English. They had set up a free tour for us. Golconda Fort is one of Hyderabad's monuments. Golconda translated means Shepard's Hill. Golconda Fort was built by Quli Qutub Shah and is famous for its Acoustics, Palaces, Water Supply System, and Diamond Trade. Here are some pictures from the tour:

This is the view after we made it to the top of the fort

 This is the main entrance to the fort 

This is the court yard to the fort

Me and Melanie 

The fort has these ceilings throughout the fort. The carvings are what caused the echoes and the sound to reach the top of the fort where the king and queen stayed.

Angela and I when we are almost to the top, the view from here was so beautiful

The King and Queen Quarters 

This is the stone work of the fort
While we were walking up to the top they had a temple and this was one of the Gods

This little boy carried these drinks all the way up on his head without a problem. We later found out they were Maaza drinks and it was my first time trying one. They are now my most favorite drink here!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Organizations Meeting Week

This week as been one huge adventure! I got through the tourist stage (for the meantime) and am way excited to start working on projects! We met with the AIDS/HIV Clinic, Nireekshana, on Monday. A doctor and his family who came the clinic were actually from Chicago and had prayed about whether or not they should come to India and open their clinic. They both felt strongly that it was the right thing to do and have created an amazing organization. Not only do they check for AIDS/HIV and supply medications but also have implemented ways for those diagnosed to earn money and have a daily job to help them feel more in control of their situation. The women come and sew every day making jewelry bags, phone bags, and bigger bags and have others who create designs on them as well as making candles. Although this is not the only means of income, through selling these items the organization and those diagnosed are able to earn money to support more projects as well as the families and children.

On Tuesday, we met with the MV Foundation Bridge School for Children. They are a one of a kind organization that is fighting child labor. They find kids mainly located in the rural villages, but could be located anywhere and give them a chance to gain an education or in other words be a "bridge" to get the children up to date with their grade level to get them into a regular school. This gives children who wouldn't of had a chance to get ahead, to become educated and come back and make a difference in their villages. The children there are so cute and anxious to become educated!

In the evening we met with CARPED. I was most excited for the projects within this organization. Many of the building projects will be implemented in Kowdipally. There we are going to be building a community science center, square foot gardens, adobe stoves, nutrition education (apparently the group last year encountered a young lady who stopped feeding her children fruits and vegetables because she thought they were unhealthy for them) so this is a huge deal here! Other projects included missing children, sex trafficking, and hysterectomy awareness. There is a huge problem here where doctors tell women who come in for abdominal pain and other manifestations and tell them they need to get a hysterectomy to fix the problem, which in most cases their problems could have been solved by a pharmaceutical prescription and saved a lot of money. These  women are undergoing these surgeries through unqualified doctors and is a scam to get money from them.

After surgery, recovery takes several months and is a huge financial strain on families because the women cannot work during this period and a lot have gone into debt to pay for the surgery. There is little or no follow up after the surgery and in some cases may cause the women to become even sicker. This can cause their husbands to leave or unfit for marriage due to not being able to have kids. A huge amount of these surgeries are by people my age and even younger who are blindly led to believe it is their only option! This is why I have such a huge passion here to bring awareness of these problems and help educate these girls that there are other alternatives.

Our group spent a lot of time with the LEPRA organization on Wednesday which really opened my eyes. We first met in their main office and spent time getting to know their organization. I must mention how hospitable all these organizations are! Every single one of these organizations offered us drinks, little treats, and some even lunch! They are much more relaxed here and wait until the very end of the meeting or day to discuss business. After the office we went to the leprosy and TB clinic and learned about what they do there and showed us their microscope where they check the sputum sample.

The doctor also had three of his TB patients come in and he told us their story. One lady received HIV/AIDS from her husband who left her right after and then she contracted TB soon after from her weakened immunity. She had stopped taking her medications after two months and as a result she got MDR TB and transmitted it to her daughter. There are cases like these where those diagnosed with TB don't realize that they need to take their medications the whole period and not stop when the symptoms go away. I will work with others in my group evaluating more situations like this and what things could improved to decrease misunderstanding and increase awareness.

We also carried out a one day investigation type information gathering for 2ft Prosthetics (They are a prosthetic leg organization based in Provo, UT) who wanted HELP India to research whether or not it would be worth it to come to India. Some of my team members and I went into one of the local hospitals to ask the doctor who works on the amputees about their process and who they recommend for a prosthetic. The doctor mentioned the factors for amputations in the first place were from car accidents, diabetes and infections. I was shocked to hear about the high rate of diabetes! It has given me the idea of creating my own project on diabetes awareness within the less educated population. I will keep you informed on that.

Why India?

Growing up I would watch the movie "A Little Princess" and since then I was captured with India! It seemed like a magical place full of culture, exotic animals and filled with adventure. I was always fascinated by the beauty of other countries and all the little things that made each of them unique.

India is a country rich in culture and history but has over 40% of its population currently in poverty. Not only that, but India is estimated to have 1/3 of the worlds poor. There is a great need for able compassionate people to go and help the people of India who live in diseased prevalent areas and suffering from malnutrition.

My first experience in serving abroad was in 2007. I became involved with the organization International Aid Serving Kids (IASK). I had the opportunity to serve for two and a half weeks in the Dominican Republic. It was the such an eye opener for me to experience poverty on a level I had never before seen. Right outside the city we stayed in were shack villages filled with children and little to sustain them. Our group of doctors and nurses worked to see as many families that we could and looked for the poorest of the poor. We delivered hygiene kits to those families in need of them most and it was amazing to see how grateful these families were. I knew from then on I wanted to become educated and be involved in something greater than myself, I wanted to help the world and make a difference. Particularly in 3rd world countries where there is the greatest need.

As I attended Brigham Young University (BYU) and became involved in the Public Health program, my eyes were again opened to the many opportunities of gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to serve those people in 3rd world countries. I recently graduated this past month with my bachelors degree and now I am finally able to put what I have learned in action and apply it in my Internship through HELP International in Hyderabad, India. There is no where else I would rather be this summer than to be in India with this organization.

Through HELP International we will be able to make a difference in malnutrition, poverty, anti-human trafficking, and the spread of diseases in Hyderabad. This is through our self sustaining programs of which I will be posting on regularly and through the donations of people who care to make a difference.