Not very far from iconic Connaught Place Inner Circle, in the outskirts of Delhi, is a hub of migrant workers engaged in informal labour, mainly as rickshaw pullers. It is also known as the Mata Sundari Slum in Delhi.
Maitri’s Project Awaaz, which provides Targeted Intervention to Reduce HIV/AIDS vulnerability among rickshaw pullers and their families, has been working with these communities since 2011.
On 5th of April 2016, the Project Awaaz team conducted a health camp in Mata Sundari Slum. The project team reached the venue early in the morning to set up tents and benches. They worked busily to put up banners and posters, and within couple of hours the place was ready to welcome the team of doctors and hundreds of patients.
The dedicated team of three doctors, one pharmacist and one volunteer had been especially invited from Indian Spinal Injury Centre, New Delhi for this health camp. As registration began, people poured into the tent in such numbers that staff needed to control and manage the crowd. They were eagerly seeking treatment for their ailments.
Dr. Ulf Krisstofferson, the Chair Person of Maitri along with General Bhopinder Singh (Retd), the President of Maitri, visited the camp and congratulated the team for their excellent efforts. They took the time to speak with several locals who were grateful for the services Maitri provided.
Close to the tent, a magician who has been an integral part of the project in creating awareness among the masses set his tables with props. He wore the popular magicians black hat and suit. Quickly, a large gathering surrounded him and be began his magic tricks. Each act was connected to the awareness message on HIV/AIDS.
As he urged people to test for HIV to ensure that they didn’t have the virus, the set of playing cards in his hands suddenly turned into plain white, and he said, “you will know your blood is clean and without any infection”. To demonstrate that we can hug and be friends with persons infected with HIV/AIDs, he played tricks with three loops of rope that were an interconnected chain with one touch. He had many such amusing tricks and gave the message clearly and effectively.
“For past one week we had been visiting door to door informing people about the medical camp. We are glad that they came and took advantage of the health camp. Sometimes, people give up on themselves and do not seek treatment. So, we have to nudge them and encourage them”, said Abrar, the Project Officer. The project also ensured that the rickshaw pullers, who had to rush back to resume work, were given free breakfast.
Over 300 men, women and children benefited from routine health check ups and free medicines. Most common ailments were cough, chest pain, back pain, and children with blisters and burns. Doctors suspected a large number of Tuberculosis cases and referred them to the government hospital or DOT Centre. Equal numbers of women and children came and received treatment they couldn’t afford otherwise.
For another article about Maitri’s health camps, read here.
To read more about Maitri’s work with Rickshaw pullers, those described here, see this link.