India: Vital Care
Loreto Sisters provide vital health care to tribal village
Nestled in the mountains and surrounded by forests lies the small village of Lolay where disadvantaged tribal villagers live. There are no shops in Lolay and the only infrastructure is the newly established Loreto Health Clinic along with the school, Church and convent. It is not uncommon for the locals to walk for over two hours for basic necessities, including water.
The nearest town is only 17 kilometres away yet it takes over an hour to reach it in a four-wheel drive. This snaking road, built over a decade ago, is way too narrow, potholed and windy to accommodate a bus. If this sounds like an arduous journey, imagine what it’s like for the seriously ill – often having to be carried down the mountain on a chair.
The people of Lolay are mainly subsistence farmers living below the poverty line. There is no such thing as irrigation so if the rains don’t come at the right time and in the right quantity no crops can be harvested. Without a water supply these families, living in mud huts, have no toilet facilities making it nigh on impossible for hygiene levels to be improved.
The Loreto Sisters, going where the need is greatest, established the first Health Clinic in the area in February this year. Loreto Sister, Clara Kaspar, manages the program and is supported by an experienced paramedic and social worker. Women, children, pregnant mothers, the physically challenged and elderly are the most vulnerable groups needing constant attention.
Operating six days a week the clinic staff have immunised over 55 children and provided polio vaccination for all the children under 5-years of age. In addition to administering medicines the clinic has, through their awareness programs, successfully raised health and hygiene standards. Additionally, new mothers are provided with information on health care and nutrition for their babies – a much-needed service never before offered.
The community continues to battle with high rates of child marriage, early pregnancy, school drop-out rates and alcoholism. However, through the presence of the Loreto Sisters managing the Health Clinic and initiating awareness and education programs, positive changes are occurring.
This project truly nurtures the vision of creating a better future through lifting the living standards in and around Lolay.