Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lessons from Ukhrul

One picture of the landscape

This tree flowers once a year - the hills were covered

The ubiquitous presence

An official convoy

The health system in our country has been touted as one of the best in the world - on paper. The reality as we all know is quite the opposite. I recently visited a small mission hospital in the district of Ukhrul, Manipur. The two things that strike you on the 4 hour drive from Imphal are the beautiful rolling hills and valleys, the symbol of the North East and the ubiquitous army personnel, who also are unfortunately a symbol and who can be seen roaming the fields and the roads armed with all manner of equipment including rocket launchers! The longer you drive, the more you realise how far this area is from 'civilisation' as we know it. And how the simple life that we now cannot even imagine is the norm. Where waiting in a long queue to collect water from the sole source in the village is part of the everyday routine. Where 'necessities' like electricity, cellular phones and internet have not yet made their appearance. And for me, the most difficult to bear, where health facilities remain so basic as to be nearly non-existent - there is no surgeon in the entire districe. Nearly 2 lakh people with nowhere to go for a surgical emergency. Due to the unrest in the region, travelling at night is out of the question, so Imphal is often too far away in times of need. In fact, there is only one resident specialist in the district - an obstetrician who has a private practice. Once or twice a week, a paediatrician and a pathologist(??!!), who are posted in the civil hospital, but live in Imphal , make their appearance.

This is not a new story. It is retold in so many of our districts and states. It is published in so many of our newspapers and periodicals. We are so used to hearing of it that we now take no notice of it. Our leaders have so come to expect it that they take no action to remedy it. The people go on with their lives - in places like this, illness and death are a part of everyday life, they cannot be taken too seriously. And the terrible tragedy is that doctors, nurses and health care professionals throughout our land turn a blind eye to this travesty. For our present day medical profession, commercial and professional advancement are held up as the standards by which we measure our success. The idea of medicine as a calling or vocation has long been swallowed up by the tidal wave of commercialism and health 'business'. Today we wonder how enlightened people could allow Hitler to commit his awful crimes. Tomorrow our descendants will look at us - the doctors, nurses and health workers of today, in that same light. Are there any who will choose to respond to the need... Or will we all accept the situation of today and pretend there is nothing we can do to change it...


  1. It was very interesting to read your thoughts on Ukhrul & missions. I was reading the write up from Rome on the beatification of Mother theresa. here is a small extract from it for you.

    '..... There are still others who, in the midst of their ordinary lives, feel an extraordinary attraction toward Mother Teresa's example. Even if not called to mission lands or formal ministry, they nonetheless make up an unseen cohort of simple people, all around the world, who are called to be as leaven in the dough. These are the hidden 'little ones' of the kingdom — insignificant before the world, yet precious to the heart of the Father. These are the little ones — like any and all of us — who try to live something of Mother Teresa's example of love in the midst of their burdened lives. They are hidden carriers of the same light Mother Teresa bore, each reflecting Love's radiance in their own small way, as the sun sparkling in a sliver of glass.

    All around the world they weave small miracles of love with their daily lives, which from Mother Teresa's one charism, unfold and multiply in all directions, like ripples in a pond. These are the simple ones from every walk of life, God's unknown heroes unknown even to themselves, who are spreading far and near Mother Teresa's vision, her message, her example.

    Among these little ones Mother Teresa still gladly counts herself, even from above. She too, like her patroness of Lisieux, promised to spend her heaven doing good on earth, bending over the same "dark holes," of brick and of spirit, that she lit with love while on earth (e.g., her miracle for beatification).

    Each of us marking her beatification this day are called to be one with them, and one with her, in this great work of Love — which is his, not hers. In a very real sense, "Something Beautiful for God," the first book written about Mother Teresa, is still not complete — for each of us are still in time to write its concluding chapter with our lives.

    We may not be called to go to Calcutta; we may not be called to do what Mother Teresa did. But all of us, no matter who or where or what we are, are indeed called to do as Mother Teresa, to love as she loved. As she used to say, "What I can do you cannot; and what you can do I cannot."

    Each of us, with our own unique gifts, with our own relationships, with our own place in history, can touch people and do good in a way that neither Mother Teresa, nor anyone else on earth, can do. We are each called, in our special way, to do as Mother Teresa — to make our own lives, as hers, "something beautiful for God."

    Around the world, in all these small though important ways, the thirst of God for man and of man for God is being sated — and Mother Teresa's mission to "Come, be my light," continues to be fulfilled.

    And so we rejoice for and with Mother Teresa, as we rejoice with the poor and weak of every type and place to whom she showed the immense love of God, as we rejoice with the great and the small everywhere who have been, and will be, blessed by her whom the Church this day in turn has blessed.

  2. Thanks for sharing !
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