Sunday, July 24, 2011

Visiting Kumudini Hospital

Nurse, mother and child at Kumudini*
My visit to Kumudini Hospital in Mirzapur (about two hours south of Dhaka, if the roads are clear and there are no major "jams") began with a friend I met at the swimming pool... she invited me to join the water aerobics class, and then, knowing of my interest in NGOs, kindly invited me to come along when, on Friday, the hospital hosted an open house for dignitaries.
Her grandfather started this hospital in Mirzapur. He built it with his own funds, after coming up the river to in a houseboat from India in the 1930s. The village has grown into a town, and the hospital has both a school for girls and a medical school, which trains promising young women to be doctors and nurses.
People can get medical care here for free. Kumudini charges a nominal fee for medicine — between 5 and 10 taka — less than the cost of a short rickshaw ride in Dhaka, about the price of a banana.
I talk to an older male doctor there, who, when I ask him if he likes his work, says, "Money's nothing compared to knowing you're really helping the people." 
Men's Ward at Kumudini Hospital*
We walk through the wards, full of patients — bed after bed, like the post-WW2 open-ward hospitals I've seen in films. In some ways patients seem more exposed in their suffering, but also less cut off than the small, two-person hospital rooms I'm used to. Those patients who can sit up watch us curiously from their beds. Some are not so alert. One frail older man is so thin and desiccated that I'm really not sure he's not dead. I don't want to stare, but out of the corner of my eye, I watch to see his chest move, just to be sure. It does. It's almost imperceptible, but he's breathing. I don't know what to do with his frailty but to acknowledge it and to wish him good health in this place. The ward has a multitude of open windows, when there is a breeze it is a joy.
The hospital incorporates many faiths. Catholic nuns run the nursing college, many of the patients here are Hindu (a minority in Bangladesh, about 9% of the nation's population) in addition to Muslim. One of the nuns, the third of her sisters to become a nun, speaks to me about the joy that this service, teaching and nursing, has brought her. I get her number so we can talk more.
I talk to a young female doctor who had done her training there, and is now entering her internship. She loves the work, she says, and is thankful for the opportunity. She exudes an air of quiet confidence and professionalism that I think is a clear byproduct of this place, which invests in women, and allows them to invest in their community.

*Photo credit 1: winners/?cat=NTP&place=HM1
Photo credit 2:

1 comment:

DiamondLil said...

I'm reading this really interesting book right now called "Drive" by Daniel Pink about what really motivates people. Living in the U.S. it seems always like the answer to that is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

But Pink says true motivation comes form autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Sounds like that's what you're hearing in the field.

Check this out when you have time: