Friday, May 15, 2009

Going to Guntur

Over the year, although Prabhu and I have both been working/volunteering here in India, we haven't blogged much about it. However, we have wanted to share a couple of our recent special experiences, thus the last post from Periamalai and this one from Andhra Pradesh. Andhra is the state just north of Tamil Nadu, famed for it's hot climate and food, particularly pickles. It is also one of the states in India with the highest incidence of HIV (about 3.2%). One of the organizations that I have been volunteering with here in Chennai runs two clinics and a small hospital in Andhra, and this week I was able to visit there, with the intent of collecting data that we could use to write a paper sharing the organizations experience treating patients with HIV/AIDS in India. It was a privilege to meet the teams in Guntur and Chilakaluripet, who are doing wonderful work. I got the chance to see both in and outpatients, and of course spent a lot of time pouring over charts. One of the highlights of the visit was a trip to a local fair with a group of children who are affected by HIV - they are either infected, or have (had) a parent with HIV. Like children all around the world, they were ecstatic playing carnival games, going on rides, eating junk food and in this case, watching a magic show. Here are some photos of the kids.
Sadly, while I was in Guntur, HAPPEN, the organization which provides support for the children and sponsored the trip to the fair, was informed that the Clinton foundation, their major donor, would not be continuing their support in the next fiscal year (due to "the downturn in the US economy"). Currently, the Clinton foundation is providing 30,000 rs/month, or about $600 which provides nutritional support and school fees for approximately 85 HIV affected children. If anyone out there in blog land has some pull with the Clinton foundation, could you ask them to reconsider?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Indian Birthday

Leann celebrated her first Indian birthday on May 2nd. Following breakfast we went to the Ooty flower show in Chennai (Ooty is a hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu, where we live). The flower arrangements were fantastic as well as the veggie art work. Note the crocodile made from bitter gourd! Following the show we went treated Leann to a vegetarian South Indian food festival, where we all pigged out!!
All this was followed by a family get together with more food and cake, and lots of birthday singing. All in all a great day, and the start to another great year!