Cast of Characters

One of the objectives of our prenatal clinic in Rajasthan is to have the local community engaged in its implementation and operation. We are extremely fortunate to have some of Ganganagar’s finest helping our clinic run as efficiently and effectively as possible; without them, the entire project would still be an idea floating around in Canada. In this post I’d like to introduce you to our local team. These people are helping us realize our dream. They have also become a big part of my life here in the village.

Balwant Singh Kaler – Managing Director

Balwant – known affectionately as Banth – is the heart and soul of our operation. He’s been quite the boon for the project and, as our Managing Director, wears many hats. At any one time he can be supervising construction, managing accounts, designing hospital plans and navigating the roads of Ganganagar shuttling me from village to village and from village to city. Driving around with Banth has allowed me to meet many locals. Since Banth knows everyone and everyone knows him, he’s more than likely to pick up travellers along the road, getting them to where they need to be faster than they intended.

Banth has a tremendous amount of social capital and has been instrumental in getting our project off the ground. His quick wit and open heart keeps everyone on their toes and emotionally invested in the project.

At our weekly prenatal clinic, Banth’s is the friendly face greeting our patients as they arrive. When he’s not recording names in the register, showing people where to go, or troubleshooting problems as they arise he’s inevitably making people laugh (in contrast to the rather serious picture – approved by him – that I’ve posted).

Dr. Renu Makker – Obstetrician/Gynaecologist

Dr. Makker is our very knowledgeable and capable obstetrician/gynaecologist. Dr. Makker is the conduit by which needy patients receive prenatal medical care and advice. She provides our patients with antenatal checkups and performs deliveries at our partner hospital in the city of Shri Ganganagar. Dr. Makker’s commitment to the project has been tremendous form the very first day the clinic opened its doors. In addition to her very busy practice in Shri Ganganagar, Dr. Makker commits her Sundays to our clinic – braving the roads, heat and dust on her weekly commute from the city. Without Dr. Makker’s involvement our clinic would simply not run.

Rajesh Kumar – Chemist

Rajesh, seen here with his son and occasional clinic helper, Vaibhav, is officially our chemist (AKA pharmacist), but in reality he’s so much more. In addition to overseeing our clinic’s medical store and ensuring our patients understand when and how to take their medication, Rajesh oversees our accounting, makes sure bills are paid and does any number of things that need to get done. Rajesh, like Dr. Makker, has committed himself to our project despite all the other things going on in his life, which includes other charitable work and working at his day-job with the Government of Rajasthan. Rajesh has been with us since the clinic started and his commitment and job description have expanded in equal measure. His boundless energy and spirit prevents me from ever being too tired.

Every so often, when Rajesh cannot make it down to the clinic, his brother, Ashok Kumar (seen here hard at work) fills in with the same care and professionalism.

Inderjit Singh Shergill – Manager

Inderjit – more commonly known as Budh – is our resident 35BB manager. While most of the team is away during the week, Budh is the one that makes sure all is right at the hospital site with daily inspections. During our clinic days he’s also busy making sure everything runs smoothly and adds to the atmosphere with his infectious charm and personality. Budh, like Banth (both my cousins) are fundamental to having the project be locally run.

Balkish Bano – Nurse

Of course, no medical clinic runs without a nurse. Balkish started with us in November and has been a welcome addition to our team. In addition to helping Dr. Makker at the clinic, Balkish also assists with deliveries in Shri Ganganagar.

Amar Chand – Caretaker

Amar Chand – who we call Babaji out of respect for his seniority – is the caretaker of our burgeoning hospital facility. Babaji ensures everything is tidy and clean for visitors and patients. Babaji also provides security, living on the compound at night, and keeps everyone fed and caffeinated with endless cups of delicious chai. Although not originally from 35BB, Babaji comes from the area and can often be seen in the company of his children and grandchildren.

Sandeep Kaur – Volunteer

Sandeep is another 35BB resident, living just a few houses away from the clinic, and has volunteered with us for almost two years. Sandeep keeps the old guys in check and makes sure our record keeping is in order. She recently gained admission to nursing school in Shri Ganganagar. Sandeep represents another facet of our project that we hope to build on – the involvement of young volunteers and students both from the region and abroad.

That’s it for this week. In the meantime check out more pictures from the clinic on my personal flickr site at: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjynF9sJ and follow me on Twitter @AneelBrar.

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