Health Help International aim to help improve the health of the less fortunate in our world. Read more about us, our work and how you can help.

Supporting and Promoting

Strathaven Gala 2022

After a two-year absence, not even the inclement weather could deter the SFHHI committee from supporting the Strathaven Gala Day at the John Hastie Park on Saturday 11th June 2022 while at the same time promoting the work of Health Help International. 

On their attractive stall was displayed a selection of the beautifully Painted Leaf Cards as well as other items on sale on behalf of the Charity. A good number of visitors were attracted to the SFHHI tent and using excellent sales talk the committee members raised just over £100 for the work of HHI.

A free prize draw for a basket of ‘Taylor made’ biscuits, generously donated by Willie Cooper certainly helped to generate interest! The draw for the prize was made by Gala Day Chairman Colin Dempster who also presented it to the winner Marion Law.

Congratulations Marion, well done SFHHI and thank you to everyone who supported us!

For more information about the work of SFHHI click here.

Gomayhy

During his recent visit to India, Edmund met Gomayhy, a 75-year-old Hindu widow.  She lives in a dilapidated mud brick house which stands on a small plot of land.  Her children died in infancy.  She is diabetic and has breathing difficulties.  Her only income is a small old-age pension.   Her nephew helps with money for food and HHI provides an additional Rs.500R (£5) each month for medicines.  

Gomayhy desperately needed a new roof at a cost of £290. Members of Nant Coch Church have already donated a generous £200 and we have replaced her leaky asbestos roof with a durable galvanised iron one.  Gomayhy is very grateful for all the help she has received.

The house before ...

... and after

‘Love Letters Down Under’

Strathaven shop window with Iain Park

Strathaven News  

In Love with ‘Love Letters Down Under’

Iain Park’s latest book, ‘Love Letters Down-Under’, has had tremendous reviews from those who have already read it.  Therefore, it was no surprise that Iain had an immensely successful book signing on 27th April in Strathaven Community centre.  In total, over 40 copies of his latest book ‘Love Letters Down-Under’ were sold and several donations were also received to support the work of HHI.  Jute, who is visiting to Strathaven at the moment, enthused about both the book and the event and has a number of requests to return with copies of the book! We can’t wait!                       

Congratulations Iain!

The book is available for a minimum donation to HHI of £15 and can be ordered from the HHI or SFHHI websites or by contacting Iain at   iain@rhonadale.co.uk

*(Love Letters Down Under’ is based around the letters of Barbara Hamilton, a distant cousin of Iain, to her future husband Andrew Dykes who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1909 to establish himself as a farmer but Barbara was not able to join him until 1919, after the war. She wrote faithfully to him throughout the war years. Her unique correspondence portrays vividly the effects of the war on the town and the surrounding farming community as she recounts the growing number of friends and family members injured or killed during the conflict.)

That was a busy day

There was no post yesterday as it was one of those days when nothing went right, and nothing was achieved.  No problem, this is India and things don't always go according to plan.  Lesson one of life in India is to accept this.

Today was spent at the Neyyar Dam again, seeing some of the people that your generosity has enabled us to help, as well as others that need our help.  Mostly in the flesh, although we did managed a video conference with Mani who is in the Medical College Hospital!  It was a long day: 19 visits, and not back until after 8pm, well after dark.  But very rewarding, albeit with a few tear-jerking situations.

Shanti Bi came from Kattakkada with her husband to tell us about the treatment for mouth cancer, which we helped to pay for - repeated surgery to remove the cancer including removal of part of the tongue, eight teeth, part of her jaw bone and some of her throat, followed by 33 sessions of radiation therapy. She still has difficulty eating and remains on medication, but the treatment appears to have been successful - so far.  Time will tell.  Despite all this she remains strong.

On the shores of the Neyyar Dam

That was a mistake.  Rajesh has repaired the meter on his autorickshaw.  Prices have dropped substantially as a result.

I have spent today in the area around the Neyyar Dam with Pastor Wilson, seeing some of he people that we have been helping in the area, as well as meeting others who are in great need and whom we could help.  If we can cut our spending in one area then we can expand it in another, so there will be some hard choices for me to make when I get back to the UK.  Fortunately a monthly sub of just GBP5 can make all the difference between getting by and destitution, so there are possibilities.

I started off with a review of the leaf painting, wristband weaving and tailoring training that was going on.  Lockdown and Covid have led to a reduction in demand for leaf cards, and supply exceeds demand which is causing problems.  Fortunately the tourists are starting to return, so we are hoping that things will improve.  On a more positive note, the tailoring training is proving very successful - we provide both training and, for the poorest trainees, a second-hand sewing machine; other people can often get a loan from their credit union.  There is a fair demand for their services, and on average they make about GBP 20 to 30 a month - it doesn't sound a lot to us, but in India it is enough for them to live on.

Today's lesson is: how to make trousers

Another way that we help people to become self-sufficient is to give them a young goat.  Shobana was the recipient of one such: her goat has now become three or four, so she is well on the way to a better life as a result.

Back in Kerala

It was a good trip out to Asha Kiran, but we are now back in the relative civilisation of Kerala.  We spent a bit of time with the children at Asha Kiran before sayingour goodbyes and catching the bus for the 3 hour plus journey back to Nedumangad.

There is not a lot more to say, so I'll just post some photographs of the visit now that I can access my camera.

The new physiotherapy centre.  It blends in well with the rest of the building.

Physiotherapy has already moved inside - official inauguration or no official inauguration!

Thangaratnam in her new wheelchair that we provided for her.  She likes to be where the action is, but tires quickly in a conventional wheelchair.  This one will enable her to enjoy the stimulation of being with other children for much longer periods.

Beulah on her new prosthetic legs.

Small group learning

Honoured guest

A full day at Asha Kiran today. The morning was a chance to see the centre in action - a hive of activity wi th special needs teaching and physiotherapy in full swing. Them a lunch provided by a local doctor (a popular way of supporting Asha Kiran) was followed with a useful discussion with the head of Grace Ministries, a Christian organisation wit a good fit of work who may take over much of Santhosh 's work. Finally it was the grand opening of the new physiotherapy room - s rather over hyped event, but a chance to showcase Asha Kiran to a wider audience. But the best part was a chance to present Beulah with her third set of artificial legs and to catch up with her. I hadn't seen her for three years. She is growing up quickly and turning into a very attractive young woman. She is quickly learning how to use tthe facilities that the new legs provide. She is an inspirational story of a life transformed, thanks to the wonderful generosity of you, our faithful supporters.

Going back in time

The main street of Ambassadurum has no pavement so walking involves jumping out of the way of busses and kamikaze cyclists. Cows are curled up going to sleep in all sorts of unlikely places. Tamil Nadu is a step back in time, fifty years behind Kerala. I am here to visit our original special needs centre, Asha Kiran Ashram. Normality is gradually returning after the disruption of covid the number of children is increasing: today there were 27, taught in small groups by dedicated teachers who have to cope with a huge variety of abilities and disabilities. They do remarkably well. But there is a lot of catching up to do. And i have had a lot of catching up ofy own to do with Santhosh. We had a good chat about plans, hopes for the future as well as ensuring that we understand each other. Email and WhatsApp are great tools, but face to face works so much better. Tomorrow is the grand opening of the new physiotherapy room. It is a great addition to the centre - physiotherapy is so transformative of children's lives. And they have a new physiotherapist who seems to be very on the ball, and who is ready achieving things with a number of the children. It should be a great day.

City life

Today was spent in and around the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapurum - or Trivandrum if you prefer.  Less contact with needy people, but catching up with some important business.

First visit was to Shanti Bhavan, a home for destitute peole.  They currently look after 30 such people - 2 women and 28 men.  Most of the day-to-day running is done by Omar Kuttan, whom I first met in the Medical College Hospital, when I was able to save him from a life of disability by buying a set of implants for his broken leg.  He is now fully recovered, active and agile, and very grateful for the help that he received all those years ago.  As I sometimes say, the best GBP50 that I ever spent.  It was good to see the residents helping around the premises, and getting a good breakfast of cous-cous and curry.  They had got behind with the rent, so it was good to be able to give them a month's rent so as to keep them in good favour with the landlord.  They have a plot of land nearby, and they hope to put up a suitable building in due course as their present landlord wants the present building back.

One of the residents at Shanti Bhavan.  He has a deformed right hand and right foot.

Then we met up with Shibu, our permanent bystander in the hospital.  He gave me the details of his present six patients, who have all met with various accidents, and would not get the treatment that they so desperately need without his presence.  Shibu was thriving on it.  We pay his expenses, but do not give him a salary, so there are sometimes things that he wants: this time it was a chance to buy him a new smart-phone - something that is useful for him to keep in contact and to send us photos.