At Lent (the period from March 1st until Easter), we reflect on the unbelievable way Jesus' suffering was redeemed for the good of the world. Arvind's determination to not allow a village's story to end in tragedy is small glimpse of how God is still doing that. If you'd like to join Chetna in the work they're doing, consider giving up something this Lenten season that will allow you to save money to donate to their work. Learn more here

Arvind laughs and shakes his head if anyone suggests his dreams for his community are too big to be reasonable - Photo by Sarah K.

Arvind laughs and shakes his head if anyone suggests his dreams for his community are too big to be reasonable - Photo by Sarah K.

The nearest hospital was an hour’s drive away over crowded, unpaved roads. The village, however, had recently learned how important prenatal checkups are for pregnant women. So Bhai took his daughter-in-law and son on the back of his motorbike to the hospital for her checkup. As they returned, there was an accident. Bhai’s daughter-in-law was thrown from the bike -- she was crushed under a truck and died instantly.

Chetna is a community development project of EHA and a partner of SIM India. One of their programs increases health awareness in the rural villages it serves, encouraging people to take advantage of routine health care – including prenatal visits for pregnant women.

When Chetna staff arrived to grieve with Bhai and his family, they found him shaking with rage.

Small village hospitals like this provide access to basic preventative healthcare for thousands of people. The community surrounding the hospital is mostly agricultural and day laborers. The next medical care is several hours away - Photo by Sarah K.

Small village hospitals like this provide access to basic preventative healthcare for thousands of people. The community surrounding the hospital is mostly agricultural and day laborers. The next medical care is several hours away - Photo by Sarah K.

“Never again say anything about prenatal check-ups for women,” he warned. “If we hadn’t gone to that hospital, my daughter-in-law would still be alive.”

Chetna staff were sad for the family’s tragedy, but knew they couldn’t let this incident endanger babies’ lives for generations to come. Over several visits, they pointed out to Bhai that this tragedy wasn’t caused by a prenatal checkup but by the fact that the hospital was so far away. Pointing to an overgrown, abandoned government building meant to serve as a local hospital for routine checkups and medical appointments, they asked, “What would have happened if this facility was up and running? What if you hadn’t had to go so far?”

Arvind is a local man who’s been volunteering with Chetna for several years. While most volunteers are responsible only for their home district – a designation that includes five villages – Arvind has taken responsibility for two. He rides around his ten villages, looking for community health and sanitation problems he can fix. He carries forms for reporting issues to the government and a phone that includes all the local leaders as well as Chetna staff numbers. Arvind has big plans for his community.

“Ten years from now,” he says, surveying the one-room mud-and-straw huts around him, “What you see now will not exist. It will all be different. We will move forward.”

The road to the hospital, now clear of water and buffalo, will soon be paved - Photo by Sarah K.

The road to the hospital, now clear of water and buffalo, will soon be paved - Photo by Sarah K.

Chetna staff asked Arvind to help Bhai and his village see the need to work on the hospital. Fueled by their grief, Bhai’s family led the process to get the hospital in working order. Arvind helped by providing information and experience in navigating the maze of government advocacy. With money secured from the government, they repaired the building, kicked out the buffalo and goats who were routinely staked outside to graze, and cleaned up the yard. Most recently, dirt has been laid to raise the ground and allow for a road up to the hospital.

Soon, basic medical supplies like a blood pressure machine, glucose monitor, and prenatal vitamins will arrive and the local nurse can begin offering prenatal checkups and other routine screenings to the villages in the area. Getting the hospital in working order will be a big step forward for Arvind’s ten-year plan to change his two districts. Arvind, however, refuses to take personal credit.

“Everything is according to God’s plan,” he says. “If it wasn’t for God’s plan, I wouldn’t be working for Chetna. I wouldn’t have bowed down to Him. So – if it’s God’s plan, these villages will change!”


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