Several years ago, my friend Golda helped start a nonprofit called Hospital for Hope in India. This was approximately all I knew about her organization when I asked her in February if by any chance her group might be looking for some on-the-ground help over the summer. I knew I wanted to come back to India in the months before school started, and I wanted to do something helpful and meaningful that was not teaching English. Been there, done that, it was good fun, wanted to do something else.
Hospital for Hope had just spent several years raising enough money to build a hospital in rural India, in a place where most people had to travel 2-3 hours—and spend money they didn’t have—to see a real doctor. Golda said HFH’s Indian counterpart, Jagriti Vihara, could use some help conducting a survey of villagers to determine what illnesses were the biggest problems in the surrounding area. It sounded like they could potentially also use some help thinking through a budget as well as some longer-term funding ideas to make the hospital sustainable. Most people in this state, Jharkhand, don’t know English, but don’t worry, Golda assured me—JV can provide a translator.
You might think that someone like myself, who has virtually no public health experience, is not an accountant, and arrived in India speaking about 20 words of Hindi, is not really an ideal candidate for the above project.
Yeah. I had this thought myself more than a couple times before leaving the US.
But, what the hell. I wasn’t trying to win a USAID grant. I was trying to do some research. This, I knew how to do. I figured I would just Google my way to basic knowledge on community health surveys and Jharkhand both, brush up on my Hindi, throw together a survey, then show up and see what happened.