Christian Hospital Mungeli

Newsletter #4:                                                            December, 2014
Dear Friends,

As we come to the close of the year and prepare for this special time of Christmas, there is so much that we are thankful for in our community at Mungeli. The hospital has been a beacon of hope for many, and the staff have successfully taken on the increasing patient load. 

The whole hospital is getting a new paint job and everything looks bright and clean. With the addition of the intricate Christmas decorations throughout the hospital, the place looks joyous and festive.
On the 18th, we sang carols and gave a message in the wards and distributed fruits and blankets.  We then continued on for a great Christmas Program followed by a visit from Santa Claus and then dinner.  It is amazing to see almost 400 people who were fed that night with a great meal cooked right behind our house by our own staff.  With all the picnics and staff dinners, these guys are now experts at mass catering!
The lab has been upgraded with about Rs. 15,00,000 ($30,000) worth of state of the art equipment.  The automatic biochemistry machine, a new cell counter and a sophisticated blood gas machine have all joined the armament.  The especially high tech aspect is that all these machines talk directly to the Hospital Management Software and the
results are all immediately fed straight into the patient records.  No more registers or risk of errors from copying results. This is one step further to being completely paperless and enhancing our efficiency and accuracy.

Possibly the greatest news is that we have been selected to be one of the Awardees of the ASHA grant (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad), which is a part of USAID.  This has been a long and tedious process, but with the hard and persistent work of Gayatri, Landa, Steve, Larry and other members of the Rambo Committee, we have been awarded $600,000 towards making major changes that will help women and children of Chhattisgarh through life-saving commodities.  Some of the major purchases will be monitors, ventilators and equipment for a Mother and Child ward, ICU, Operating room, along with a Mobile Outreach unit to make village trips, a large oxygen plant (so that we do not need to get cylinders filled), a sewage treatment plant and best-in-class incinerator (to make ourselves environmentally friendly), and so much more.  These are commodities that will help make an incredible difference to the work we do in saving the lives of those marginalised by poverty.
On the 8th of December, a 3-ton casing was unloaded on our doorstep: the cobalt source for the cancer centre's radiation therapy.  It was loaded into the machine on the 11th of December with the help of Mr. A.K. Chaudhuri. 

The Cancer Treatment Centre has been a massive project which started out in
2011.  The building has been built with a grant of Rs. 25 lakhs ($50,000) from the Life Insurance Corporation of India and the rest of the amount, about Rs. 60 lakhs, has been the contribution of the hospital.  The machine is a grant given by the Atomic Energy Research Board of India and the installation is now complete.  It will be the ONLY low-cost cancer centre in the State.

The Nursing School is a feather in our cap, as we had a 100% pass rate of ALL of our 4th year students.
They will be the first batch of students from this nursing school, and we are proud of our students and teachers for their hard work and perseverance.  They truly add life to the campus.  One of the exciting projects for them has been to get autonomy and run their own mess.  They also got a new chiller, chapatti maker (makes 2000 chapatti's an hour) and a whole lot of other automation to help cope with the growing numbers.

The Rambo Memorial English Medium School continues to grow.  We have just over 800 children in the school, and the sixth school bus was bought this year in order to cover all the major roads that lead out to the villages around Mungeli.
We still continue to remember that our goal is to provide low-cost high-quality English medium education to children who otherwise would not be able to afford it. This goal continues, as we have successfully received recognition for 12th grade and this will be our first class of graduates.  This is truly a triumphant achievement as the other English medium schools are expensive and far away. Some parents were reluctant to put their children into Rambo Memorial, as they could not finish their 12th grade. But now we can provide a full service education from kindergarten to grade 12. We look forward to these young ones using their education to bring about much needed change to this backward region.

The Springer Community College is an endeavor that we started this year, and there are 20 students who entered the streams of Nursing Assistant, Physiotherapy Assistant, Computer Hardware and Networking and Tailoring.  The young adults who are taking these courses are grade 8 and 10 dropouts in whom we are trying to build confidence and impart valuable skills so that they can have a sustainable livelihood and provide for their families.
We continuously have people who come to be a part of this community and share their talents and efforts in our goal of improving the health, education and quality of life for this community.  Kahala is a Dentist who is volunteering here for a period of two years and is a gift from the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.  This month we had a visit from a group of five from the church to check that Kahala was behaving herself! We also had two groups that came out with Jim Donahoo from Pennsylvania.  Then we had Dr. Linda Lewis from New York.  She had come here as a medical student in 1969 and again in 1985, and it was great to see her pictures of what this hospital was like in those days.  Rev. Robert Steieffer also joined us from Canada for a fruitful visit. 

Many of you would have noticed the heavy activity on Facebook.  This is because Steve and Alice Minson are here with us for a period of six months.  Steve is a lawyer and Alice is a nurse.  They have bonded with the community and been a great source of strength as life continues to be challenging in Mungeli.  Now they are joined by their three daughters and Alice's brother, and his family will join us as well right after Christmas.

I really would like to thank Landa Simmons and the rest of the Rambo committee who are constantly in touch. We work together to see what more we can do in expanding our reach to those in need.  I also would like to thank Global Ministries for their support. We look forward to the visit of Rev. Jim Moos, the Co-President and the Rev. Deenabandhu Manchala, the Area Secretary of Global Ministries, in February 2015.

There are many exciting things happening here, and, on a personal note, it is great to have my whole family here in Mungeli.  The boys are back from boarding school, and Ankita came today from the U.S.  Mom and Dad are well but slowing down, and the intense cold does not help.  My sister Anjali will be here from the States along with Kittie my cousin and on the 29th of December, we will celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents.  Also to be mentioned is the 80th birthday of Mom, which is just around the corner.

We thank you for all your support and prayers as we live our exciting lives working in Mungeli.  This is truly a blessed community, and what makes it special is the people who are a part of it.  The sense of caring and the sense of family truly make this a special place, even more during the time of Christmas where we celebrate the Birth of Christ and move on to an even more exciting New Year in 2015.
Merry Christmas to all of you and Happy New Year.

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