Swasthya Se Sewa – Towards A Healthy Bru
It is ironical how so little has been said and discussed about the Bru population in the mainstream dialogues and policies. Our vision is to be able to provide them with not just resources but also opportunities so that they can establish a sustainable community ecosystem and become self-reliant. From giving them access to basic and free healthcare to generating employment through skill training and enabling the youth by means of computer literacy Sewa has been a forerunner in establishing not just a give and take ecosystem but to develop a human bond with the Brus.
In this regard, there are challenges that our volunteers and workers have faced and how those challenges have been converted into opportunities is what inspires us to do better each day.
- The region is geographically isolated from the mainstream land which makes it difficult to develop last mile connectivity.
- Not only is physical access a problem but also the lack of technological connectivity leads to the further backwardness of the local population.
- Because of the hilly terrain, it becomes difficult to commercially pursue Agriculture as the main occupation. So the emphasis has to be on skill development and encouraging cottage industry such as bamboo crafts and weaving.
- The presence of border lines in most North Eastern States makes it further difficult to set up telecommunications and transport lines.
- The lack of empathy and knowledge amongst the rest of country’s population about the region and its people further creates a cultural divide which becomes difficult to bridge.
- Because of this trust knowledge and trust deficit, there are very few private or civil society organisations that are active in this region.
- The influx of illegal migrants due to porous borders especially from Bangladesh has put pressure on the local population as the fight for fixed resources worsen and this also leads to a population explosion.
- An overall lack of infrastructure especially with respect to healthcare makes the cost of accessing medicines and hospitals really expensive for these people.
- The dearth of doctors and medical professionals and also the fact that the young medicos are unwilling and disinterested to serve in these areas is a sad story.
- And lastly, the internal strifes between the different tribes, as has happened in case of the Brus has pushed this area into conflict and misery.
Through this article, we seek to give you an insight into Sewa International’s health initiatives. We hope that this document is able to give a picture of the situation on the ground and how the region has a different and unique set of challenges, which needs innovative and creative solutions.
A lot has been debated and discussed the importance of health and hygiene in the present times. Our honourable PM Mr Modi has also left no stone unturned to bring to the forefront the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the need to inculcate Yoga as a means to bring a health revolution in the country. Sewa International through its generous donors has made efforts to focus on the health-related issues that concern the Brus.
- A health survey was conducted in the Bru refugee camps. The health profile of the inhabitants was collected to make an analysis of the living conditions. Based on the survey reports we were able to assess the vulnerability of the population to various diseases, which has helped us to derive a future preventive course of action in combating them. After the survey, both the Sewa volunteers as well as the local youth had long sessions of discussion on the issues that concern the community and the further course of action that could be taken
2. Free Medical Camp: A free medical camp was organised at Shadakratan Mani Seva Sadan, Anand Bazar, Tripura by Sewa International. for the benefit of the displaced Bru tribals of nearby Ashapara, Khakchangpara and Hazacherra settlements. This camp coincided with the health awareness training and helped understand the problems of the local bru population in order to serve them better. Around 300 patients received free medical care and medicines during the camp with the health awareness trainees also participating and learning from the process. Dr. Viren Naik, who was the main force driving the events at the camp was ably supported by Dr Arpan Chakma and few other doctors from local Govt Hospital in conducting the Medical Camp. The camp was very well received and appreciated by all in the community.
The inputs from the medical camp and health awareness training are being used to devise the program for spreading the health awareness and focus on preventive health care in all 6 camps in North Tripura covering some 30,000+ displaced brus
- Empowering Healthcare’s Last Mile: Sewa International imparted basic healthcare training to the local youth so that they could bridge the last mile connectivity gap in the area. The trainees were trained to identify the symptoms of day to day ailments and provide assistance and aid for them.
- Swasthya Sewa Mitras: Out of the above trainees 20 best were chosen as informal health workers called Swasthya Sewa Mitras . They were also awarded certificates upon the successful completion of the training. They were distributed with free medical kits comprising of first aid supplies and medicines for an everyday cough and cold, stomach aches, headaches to give immediate aid till the time a doctor can be reached.
Each Swasthya Sewa Mitra has been allotted 200 families per block. Each family can contact their area worker at any time for any issue. The patients are connected to the Mitras 24/7 through WhatsApp and call.
Medical Camp by Assam Rifles: Since the entire northeast area has a considerable presence of the armed forces it becomes imperative to develop confidence-building measures with the local population. Assam Rifles in collaboration with Sewa International organised a medical camp for the Bru population in the Naisingpara refugee camp.
Not just guarding the frontiers, the Indian Army has been doing community building work throughout the country’s disturbed areas, including North East India.
Apart from all these initiatives, Sewa International has also been working towards the skill development and education of the Brus. Sewa has set up Bamboo crafts training, weavers training centre and tailor training centres in the Bru refugee camps to generate employment and also to develop entrepreneurship abilities amongst the Brus tribals.15 tuition centres and 3 schools across Naisinghpara, Ashapara and Khakchangpara have been opened by Sewa The schools provide evening classes to the children because it is in the hands of these little ones that the future of this community lies. Sewa has also worked on setting computer centres for the youth so as to empower them with digital literacy.