Home
Current Events
History of the  
Laura Louie Hope Projects
Mae On Project
Darjeeling Project
Research
Complementary &  
Alternative Medicine
Photo Gallery
Background on HIV/AIDS Care
Global Statistics for HIV/AIDS
Consultation Services

 

Map downloaded from
WikiMedia

Darjeeling Project Website Page

In 2007, Dr. Louie made connections with Father Abraham, a Jesuit priest from Canada, who has worked with the poor in northern India for over 50 years. He introduced her to several organizations in the Darjeeling region that provided services to PLHIV (people living with HIV and AIDS) and many expressed an interest in the Foundation’s programs.

From that introduction in 2009, the Darjeeling Project officially started in hills of northeastern India to help young men with heroin addiction. This first project was a joint HARM reduction project for the prevention of HIV with the Indian Red Cross Society in Kurseong, India by focusing on substance abuse in the region.  Please see newsletter 15 for more information on this project.

Text Box:
Text Box: Photo left: Father J. Murray Abraham SJ
Text Box: Photo Above:  Indian Red Cross Society of Kurseong.  This is where the acupuncture training took place.

 

 

Photo Left:  We had a lovely surprise when we stepped in the training room with this poster on the wall.  The Red Cross also had a wonderful opening ceremony for us which included a journalist from the local newspaper.  We had an article on our training in the newspaper the next day.

By 2011, the Laura Louie Hope Projects started a new acupuncture training program at the Adarsha Nursing Home in Kalimpong, India. This rural town is in Darjeeling district, in the northeast of India at the base of the Himalayas. Located on the ancient caravan trails from Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal, Kalimpong is the centre of trading for these areas. Due to its sensitive political-military location, tourists have only been able to spend time here in the last 15 years. Before that they were only allowed 2-day visits.

We set two primary goals of the acupuncture training program in Kalimpong. One goal was to provide complementary treatment for pain since the only treatment in this rural town have been medications which do not always work or which carry significant or undesirable side effects. There has been little physical therapy or therapeutic massage offered and no occupational therapy or chiropractic medicine.

The other goal was to provide training for some of the hospital nurses who were young women from very poor village families. Having such a skill would provide these young women with a source of potential income in the future since when they get married, the custom is to move in with their husband’s family and generally quit working at the hospital. By having a skill like acupuncture, these nurses would be able to provide a much needed way to treat pain in their village as well as provide some income to help with food and their children’s education.

Text Box:

Photo (Above):  Here I am with the trainees.  From left to right – Sunita,
Karuna, me, Ramit and Ashmita. You may have noticed that I have squatted down a little otherwise I would be at least a foot above everyone!!

Text Box:

Photo (Above ):  Here we are in our ‘classroom’ learning about traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  From left to right – Dr. Gylamit, Karuna, Sunita, Ashmita, Ramit.  Dr. Gylamit is the medical director of the hospital and was instrumental in helping us set up the acupuncture training program at the Adarsha Nursing Home.  Here she is listening in on our first day of the training.

 

Photo (right):   Here are Ramit (left) and Karuna (right) practicing how to insert an acupuncture needle on me.

Text Box:

Text Box:

Photo (above):  Here is the acupuncture room set up for our first patients.  You can see that there are two sets of beds divided by the middle table and chairs.  One side is for women and one side is for men.

Text Box:

Photo (above):  Here are Ramit (left) and Sunita (right) preparing to see their first acupuncture patients.  Don’t they look great in their nurses uniforms?

Text Box:

Photo (Left):  Here is Karuna treating her first acupuncture patient.

The Laura Louie Hope Projects did a second training in acupuncture, massage and nutrition at the Adarsha Nursing Home in February/ March 2012 and a third training in September 2012. The nurses did extremely well and learned the medical protocol treatments successfully. As well, all patients who have come to the clinic have reported great improvements in their symptoms and quality of life. Both the Foundation and the nurses were all overjoyed at the excellent results!

 

 

Text Box:  Photo (Left):   Left to right: Norden, myself, Dr. Gyalmit, Ashmita, Ramit, Mandira, Karuna and Sunita.
Our last day of clinic followed by a wonderful ceremony.  The nurses are all in their beautiful saris.  We didn’t realize the skill and time involved in wearing a sari until we were waiting about 1.5 hours for the nurses to change from their uniforms!!  Norden is the person who went above and beyond in helping us start and maintain this training program.  He has been an incredible gift!

In September 2012, the Laura Louie Hope Projects sponsored a workshop on Community-Based Responses to People Living with HIV and AIDS in Darjeeling, India in conjunction with the Shanker Foundation. We were surprised to find out that this is the first time an international organization had ever hosted a workshop on this topic in this community.

The need for this workshop came to the Foundation’s attention four years ago when they saw the huge stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS as well as the misunderstanding of the condition itself and the impact on the communities. In 2002 the first case of HIV was identified in the Darjeeling district; five years later the number of people infected had reached 141. Today it is estimated there are 3000 people living with HIV and AIDS. With this rate of increase you can only imagine what the numbers could be like in another five years!

The workshop focused on the fact that it has been almost four decades since HIV was identified and certainly no country has been spared. Everybody is at risk of infection and no sector of the community is left unaffected. HIV not only leads to AIDS but it can also lead to serious emotional, social and economic problems which can have a devastating impact on personal, family, community well-being and national development. Preventing further spread of the virus and mitigating the suffering and the ensuing impacts requires the help and support of every sector of the community. No one person or organization can solve the problem alone. Everybody must join hands and work together to manage this problem.

This workshop was for community leaders and was given by Mr. Laurie Maund, of the Sangha Metta Project. The workshop was unique in that it was participatory with many group activities. These helped solidify the learning and showed how participants could help their communities. For example, in one activity there were large pieces of paper on which were written different professions such as teacher, doctor, housewife, military man, policeman, prostitute, truck driver, etc. The participants were asked to work together to rank these professions in order of the highest risk group to the lowest risk group. Interestingly in this community, the highest risk group for men was injection drug users and the highest risk group for women was housewives--not what many would have suspected!

Text Box:

Photo left:  Several participants were given a profession and then they were asked to line up from highest to lower risk of contracting HIV – actor,  dancer, farmer, vendor, housewife, singer, doctor, etc.

Text Box:  Photo left:  This was a great activity and was lots of fun.  Everyone was broken into groups and given a large piece of paper.  One person was blindfolded and the others had to direct them on how to draw an item, e.g., a mountain, a river below the mountain, a big tree beside the river, etc.  This activity shows the participants that if you have the help of your friends you can complete the activity.  Just like if you are going to set up a project in the community, you need the help of your friends.  You can’t do it alone.  You need to work together, listen to your friends, follow directions correctly and then you are able to finish the project successfully.  When you start a project you are like a blind man but with the support and help of your friends you can complete the project brilliantly. 

On the last day of the workshop Mr. Maund took the participants through an action plan. Each group was given a problem and had to identify the causes of the problem, set goals and objectives, develop strategies, establish a time frame and find resource persons, develop a budget, develop indicators and provide an evaluation. Once done each group presented its problem/solution strategy and a group discussion ensued. Such action plans proved interesting and educational for all. At the end of the workshop, participants were extremely motivated to go back to their small communities and start doing workshops. The Foundation was thrilled!

Text Box:

Photo left:  This is another group activity where Laurie was teaching them that you need to solve a problem by looking at the cause.  If you don’t eliminate the cause of the problem, it comes back.

 

Text Box:

Photo left:  Here I am with Esther one of the members of the Shanker Foundation.  She is getting her course certificate and is such an inspiration!  Behind us is Hari, the president of the Shanker Foundation, who is incredible and was instrumental in making this workshop happen.

The Shanker Foundation was started in 2005 and is the only organization run by people living with HIV and AIDS in the Darjeeling district of India.  The Shanker Foundation helps people living with HIV and AIDS to give them a more productive life with self confidence and dignity as well as helping them with their health care needs and quality of life.  Their activities include educating the public regarding HIV and AIDS and helping with the struggle against stigma and discrimination

The Laura Louie Hope Projects is poised to continue its non-profit initiatives in India by establishing locally run, sustainable programs in the Darjeeling district of northeastern India. We are focused on an extensive, proactive, medical and educational program similar to the Mae On Project in Thailand; however, the Darjeeling Project will have a more regional focus on essential sustainability.

The Darjeeling Project initiatives include:

  • Using acupuncture techniques to provide complementary health care to the poor; address substance abuse, improve the symptoms of chronic HIV infection, and reduce the side effects of ART;
  • Offering nutritional counselling to patients;
  • Providing a culturally sensitive educational component, including workshops and counselling to help people better understand HIV and its stigma, along with gender equality issues;
  • Delivering workshops on energy efficient/smokeless stoves;
  • Offering educational scholarships for underprivileged children;
  • Providing improved housing.

The Foundation’s intention is to train local staff to run the Darjeeling Project programs so that eventually our involvement will be minimal or altogether unnecessary, achieving the goal of sustainability.

 

 
 
 
..............................................
site by Azimuth
Photography by Harry Bohm