A Letter from Tom in India

Dear Edmond,
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus.
William (our computer, named after Mr. Bill Gates) has been ill. Down with a virus but don’t be worried we won’t send it to you. The Doctor came this afternoon and injected the antivirus. I have the same virus - basically a reluctance to work. William would take an hour to put together an e-mail and would usually nod-off before finishing. This may happen to this e-mail - not because of William but because of me. It’s now 8 pm. The current cut is coming soon. William and I are like the British workman being seen by a doctor in a cartoon in PUNCH - when we were young we got PUNCH - Is it still around? “I eats well and I sleeps well but when it comes to a little work I comes over all of a tremble.”
Some points for the meeting
1. Some 20 Kidney transplant patients are receiving half the medicine they need every month - about Rs2500/- (£300) each. This is an enormous amount here and quite beyond the reach of virtually every one. These patients come from working lower income families. (The wealthy go to private hospitals were they do not have to wait for the operation.) Most of the patients we support would have had to wait for over year for their operation. During which time they would have had two or three dialysis sessions per week at Rs1,200 per session. So any money they may have had was finished before the operation. Most of the patients have sold or mortgaged their house and land to finance their operation. And so they do not have money for their expensive follow-up medicines, which prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted kidney. (This has been given by a relative, and without a transplant they could not live.) Even one day without medicine can cause serious complication and rejection symptoms. So this is a life-saving programme and the patients and their families are deeply grateful.
2. Each month HHI provides Rs40,000/- worth of medicines for the poorest children with Leukemia in the Pediatric ward at Regional Cancer Centre at Trivandrum. This is a fine modem hospital with a skilled and dedicated staff but the patients have to pay for most of the medicines. As these are very expensive (often several thou­sand each day) poor patients cannot buy them. So many poor patients cannot get the treatment, which would save their lives. Each month the head doctor (a very skilled and caring lady gives us a list of needed medicines. These we buy from our agencies which give us 30% discount. So the HHI money goes a long way. This year HHI provided a big refrigerator to store the expensive injection medicine. So this also a life saving programme.
3. HHI also provides costly medicines, which are beyond the ordinary patients (in India there is no public health scheme and so except for the most basic complaints all medical expenses have to be met by the patients themselves), for multi-drug-resistant TB patients, Hepatitis B patients, patients needing heart operations, and orthopedic patients. Also each month several people need scans and laboratory expenses.
4. Everyday poor people come to us with medical prescriptions given to them at the local Government hospital. Very few medicines are available at the local Govern­ment Hospital. In an emergency we are also asked to provide transport to the hos­pitals. Recently Philip has taken several such cases - one a serious stroke, one an attempted suicide case, one a serious asthma patient.
5. HHI through the Banyan tree (as you all know) is also providing for some small institutions which care for the destitute and the helpless. Perhaps the most inspir­ing is the Pr. Sam Hospice for the mentally destitute. The lot of destitute women from the roadside is very pathetic. Today again I saw such a lady sitting in a bus stand reading a Bible. I gave her a parcel of food and tried to persuade her to come with me to Pr. Sam’s but she refused. I am ringing Pr. Sam and surely tomorrow he and his wife and perhaps daughter would find her. Also another dedicated couple Rani and Johny provide a home for destitute women and men. Seldom a month passes but we take one or two destitute people there. As with Pr. Sam HHI provides money for food, medicines and clothing. As is also the case for Pr. Antony and Pr. Bovas Orphanages. As in all countries there can be official difficulties in getting things done, as is the case of Pr. Antony’s new Orphanage which is progressing slowly. Mr. Vijayan, a Christian social worker is running a centre for the poverty stricken and aged tribal people on the fringe of the jungle. Philip went recently and met 8 of the people there.
6. Surely the good way to improve the health of the community is to provide clean drinking water and good toilets and bathrooms. This year HHI has funded 3 wells and 15 toilets and bathrooms. And we are embarking on another 6. These are in an economically backward Chris­tian colony called Kollankavu in Cherukoorkonam. All together we plan to build 110 toilets and bath­rooms.

As Philip and I and William are all nodding off we had better finish. With our thanks and prayers.

Tom, Philip and William.