Volunteering in India – Service Brings Happiness

Posted by: John M.

Sometimes in order to change the world you need a little more than just good intentions and a smile. Of course it’s a great place to start, but helping your fellow man takes a total devotion to the cause. Despite broadening my prospective on Indian culture while learning the fundamentals of their medical practices, realizing this pearl of information was the most important thing I took away from volunteering in India.

I began my journey in New Delhi, India, where I was greeted by the hosts of the Medical and Healthcare Internship. There I became familiar with Indian customs and tradition through visiting sites, from the local market in Delhi to the Taj Mahal in Agra. To make a bit of a generalization, I gradually noticed how incredibly kind and friendly everyone in India is! A smile is always returned, and you shouldn’t expect to be lost for more than a minute before a stranger with good intentions comes to your aid.

After exploring the hazy concrete Jungle known as India’s capital, I embarked on an exciting journey; 15 hours on a bus into the Himalayan Mountains towards a small town called Palampur. For one month I worked as a volunteering pre-med student in a privately owned underprivileged hospital with some very knowledgeable and skilled physicians and surgeons. My experiences were both inspiring and humbling.

I won’t pretend that my tireless efforts saved lives every day, or even impacted the community in a clearly visible way. However, I will ascertain that my time spent in the hospital reduced the stress on the doctors in a severely understaffed hospital, and made a positive contribution to the people of Palampur. I helped perform tasks such as assisting geriatric patients in and out of their beds, taking blood pressure and vitals of post surgery patients, and applying gel to aid with ultra sound procedures.

My biggest contribution came when I observed that nearly every case in the hospital was related to poor renal function, resulting in kidney stones. I talked to a few physicians and did a little research during my down time. I created a poster, now hanging in the hospital, which displays what I determined to be the best advice for the average Indian citizen in Palampur on how to prevent kidney stones. If I can’t directly help the sick, maybe I can prevent them from developing the problem in the first place long after I’m gone.

So this takes me back to my first point; good intentions aren’t everything. And although I was a little disappointed I didn’t exactly change the world, seeing the potential impact I can make in the future was a profoundly happy feeling, one that excites me to train for the Peace Corps and study to become a physician. My next goals in becoming an EMT and volunteering in developed hospitals will continue to teach me the essential skills necessary for continuing my journey to becoming an effective health care giver. And if you happen to be reading this post, then I challenge you to notice something in this world that could use a loving touch, and learn the new skills necessary to improve someone’s life. Helping other people makes everyone involved happy, and in my opinion is the finest expression of our selfish nature and the inherent beauty of the human race.