Darjeeling , 16th – 19th Nov, 2009
Four of us , two from the Mumbai chapter and two from Chennai chapter visited the Darjeeling hills to create awareness about cancer in Nov 2009. Sisters Pushpa & Anasatasia from FMM convent, Santhome , Chennai & Father George ,Principal Salesian College ,Sonada, organized this entire program. Each of day we were at a different place, Siliguri, Kurseong , Sonada & Darejeeling town. In 4 days we had sessions at 13 places which included schools, colleges & public meetings.
We talked to over 2000 children from 9 schools in the 4 days spent there. Tobacco use widespread and children new of all forms of usage , they also knew dangers but when and how was not clear to them. Most of them gave heavy nods when asked if they can help their relatives to quit tobacco use. At the colleges there was mixed response. At Southfield college in Darjeeling , 200 young women showed great enthusiasm in learning and interacting with the speaker , while at North Point college students were totally indifferent to the proceedings. The sessions with women’s group evoked good response and most of them profusely thanked us for the education
Climbing down the hills we were wondering whether this short stint in a far away land was useful; that was when we met a co- passenger at Kolkata railway station. This young girl introduced us to her father and said to us that this vacation she is going make her father quit smoking. She was one the girls in a school at kurseong where we had given a talk. We got the answer and moved home merrily!
Uttarakhand , 16th April – 6th May , 2014.
The tour was primarily to inspect projects supported by Association of India’s Development (AID) through Himalayan Environmental Studies & Conservation (HESCO) in the state of Uttarakhand. It began with Dehradun and covered most of Garwhal region and ended with a visit to Badrinath. The visit also provided opportunity to create cancer awareness mainly to school children and women’s groups.
The main inhabitants in this region are women, 70% of men have migrated to the plains for earning their livelihood. Life for these women is tough and is filled with endless chores from dawn to dusk. But they found time to listen to us when invited for the Breast cancer sessions. To them everything what was told or demonstrated was totally new but they showed enthusiasm and did not shy away from picking up the breast model and learning the technique that too from a male demonstrator. At a few places a few women were initially given the talk and these ladies were then encouraged to give these talks in the Garhwali language. The response bettered!
The second type of talks was the cancer Free tomorrow campaign for school children. A total of 11 sessions were held different schools at different parts of Uttarakhand. As always the response generated was excellent. At a Kulsari a few children were able to repeat the talk in its totality.
It was during one of these sessions that an idea cropped up to teach these children to pick up oral cancers & premalignant conditions. A set of 9 steps was shown and children taught. They were quick to learn and demonstrated their abilities immediately and also promised that they educate the elders at home.
This apart general cancers talks to mixed gatherings were also given at a few places and actually gathered men more than women. Consumption of alcohol and tobacco use is a hundred percent and it was obvious that they were not ready to quit come what may. Anyways dangers were enlisted and the rest was in their hands.
One thing was very heartening to see in the 18 days spent here. There was no obesity amongst the locals ! One factor less! Overall it was a novel experience and our hopes are with children here.