Now that the group of us have started to get more comfortable with the palace and the Indian lifestyle, it is time for all of us to begin our independent research. Bapa said it the best when he told us to “get on your bicycle and ride it.” AKA start moving!
Everyone on the trip is working on various projects, as there are an assortment of students studying various majors. There are a few architect students studying the concept of public and private space and the physical architecture of cultural Indian buildings. Some psychology students are working on the understanding of yoga and NGOs associated with women’s safety in India. Many students have decided to write poetry and short stories about their time in India as well.
However, my project consists of better understanding the Indian healthcare system and the methods and methodology of Indian medicine.
When I arrived to India, I was not sure what this would mean for me. Even before I knew what my independent research would look like, I was connected to a women who took me to an Anganwadi, which is a government-funded center for children and mothers that was created by the Indian government to fight malnourishment. The government allocates food for these clinics and there are government workers who prepare the food to feed the children and teach their mothers basic nutrition and health lessons. This includes lessons such as introducing the various food groups and how to have good personal hygiene, as well as female anatomy lessons.
While observing and interviewing people associated with these Anganwadis was interesting, I wanted to learn and better comprehend the healthcare system in India, and the implementation of Ayurvedic (ancient eastern) medicine.
And so, my quest to understand these practices was started. I interviewed several doctors including both Allopathic (western medicine) and Ayurvedic doctors, that worked at both private and government hospitals. Below are the main take-aways:
- Health insurance is not common in rural Gujarat (no one I met had it or understood the concept).
- Public Ayurveda hospitals and doctors are funded by the government. Imagine the U.S. government spending money on herbal medicine clinics…
- Yoga is extremely important in all aspects of health for Indians.
The beauty of this program is that it can be easily adapted to any person, in any major, with any interest. Your job as the student is to research what interests you and make the best of it. It is your time to investigate and find out where your interest takes you. You might be asking local villagers about their dreams, or interviewing Ayurvedic doctors–the choice is yours!