Tag Archives: Makunda Christian Hospital

St. Andrew’s Kirk Chennai – Bicentenary Sermon on Medical Missions

4 Apr

When I did my undergraduate medical studies in Madras (present-day Chennai) in the early 1980s, I had the privilege of attending the St. Andrew’s Church (The Kirk). There, I met Pastor David Singh with whom I had many long talks over several years. He was one of my early mentors and introduced me to community health work at the church’s community health program at Thirupalaivanam village. Many years later (in 2007), Ann and me met him again in Richmond, Virginia where he was pastoring a church. This resulted in him visiting us in Makunda and to several years of partnership between his church and organization in the USA with our hospital – yearly staff and student retreats as well as financial support to the expansion of the hospital’s work in obstetrics and paediatrics.

The St. Andrew’s Church (fondly called the Kirk) was built by Scottish missionaries and has a rich legacy over 200 years. Its building and architecture are unique and many great men and women were associated with it over the two centuries of its existence. A brief account of its work has been presented as a documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=780_668IGG0 – further details of the church and its ministry can be found on its website: https://www.thekirk.in/index.php

As part of the Bicentenary Celebrations of the church, March 2021 was dedicated as “Healing Month” with sermons centered around the healing ministry of the church. Ann and me were privileged to be invited to sing/speak at the morning service (with the theme verse John 15:16) on the 14th of March 2021. I used this opportunity to talk about my association with the church, share a personal testimony and challenge healthcare professionals and the church to missionary service. Ann and me thank the pastor and the church committee for inviting us to speak at this great church on “Medical Missions – Journeys in Faith”.

Mission hospitals were established by the church in remote and needy parts of the world where they transformed healthcare, bringing life and healing to numerous poor people who had no other options. Unfortunately, a large number are sick today and many have closed. We need a new impetus to healing sick hospitals and starting new ones in areas of need. May God place this vital burden on the hearts of church elders and the congregation so that the medical ministry of the church is a blessing to many. May young men and women in our churches today consider medical missionary work as a part of their career when God puts them into healthcare courses.

This video is made by the media team of the church and starts with organ prelude, worship led by my college junior Dr. Anita Chelliah and welcome by the Pastor, Rev. Isaac Johnson with announcements and introduction at 24:27 by the Secretary of the church and my school classmate, Mr. Dulip Singh. A short documentary on the “Healing Ministry in Chennai” is shown from 32:20 and my sermon starts at 52:47 with Ann singing the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” at 1:43:50. This is followed by intercessory prayer and the closing part of the program. You may listen to the entire program or parts of it by clicking on the link below:

Chat with Eby

8 Mar

In this post, I wish to introduce my blog-readers to Dr. Eby Daniel, a physician working at the Christian Fellowship Hospital at Rajnandgaon in the Chattisgarh state of India. He has started a podcast with each episode containing an interview with someone working in Christian missions and has called it “Chat with Eby”. There are also other playlists containing Christian meditations, Mission hospital videos etc. – you can see all of them on his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9BiQMPpSkgIl2ecTtXJ8fg

I had the privilege of being interviewed by him in his latest podcast, responding to thought-provoking questions that are relevant to young medical (and other) people considering a career in missions.

In this interview, questions have been raised on several topics on which I have written earlier (references in brackets to earlier blog-posts and external links) including finding God’s will for our lives (1,2), early days at Makunda (3), strategic planning(4), the “Makunda Model” and poor-centric strategies (5,6), preventing “Mission Drift” (7), my experience with leprosy (8) and myocardial infarction (9), biodiversity documentation (10,11), choosing a life partner (12), excelling in studies (13) and concluding remarks on decisions relating to missions (14).

I hope that you will like listening to Eby’s channel and his interviews with other people – I’m sure that you will (like me) subscribe to his channel too. Please click on the video link after the following references to listen to this podcast containing Eby’s latest Chat – with me.

References:

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2017/09/13/obeying-a-call-to-medical-missions-a-testimony/
  2. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/
  3. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2018/05/12/early-days-at-makunda/
  4. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2021/02/03/medical-missionary-work-strategic-planning-and-stock-taking/
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342551561_The_Makunda_Model_An_Observational_Study_of_High_Quality_Accessible_Healthcare_in_Low-Resource_Settings
  6. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2021/02/19/medical-missionary-work-poor-centric-strategies/
  7. https://www.peterkgreer.com/mission-drift/
  8. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2019/01/30/a-wrestle-with-leprosy/
  9. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2011/11/01/an-encounter-with-a-myocardial-infarction/
  10. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/04/29/all-things-bright-and-beautiful/
  11. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/05/27/all-creatures-great-and-small/
  12. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2012/05/22/wisely-choosing-a-life-partner-for-an-aspiring-medical-missionary/
  13. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2012/04/15/excellence-in-studies-for-an-aspiring-medical-missionary/
  14. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2021/02/23/suggestions-for-medical-missionary-work/

Medical Missionary Work – Poor-centric Strategies

19 Feb

Christian mission hospitals should be God’s institutions of healing in a world of suffering. They have the potential to ‘close the gap’ in access to healthcare and provide high quality accessible services in the most remote and needy parts of the world to those who need them the most – the poor and marginalized.

In 1993, my wife Ann and me moved to a remote part of Assam in northeast India. We were led by verses in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13 for me and Isaiah 6:8 for Ann) to what God wanted us to do with our lives. Over the following 27 years, God took us by our hands and provided us with all the encouragement, strength and wisdom required to transform a closed-down hospital to a thriving institution bringing healing and transformation to many surrounding communities. (1) We were not alone, God brought many committed staff to join us over the years to make this possible.

I was privileged to be invited to speak at six sessions on “Medical Missions” at the (virtual) South Asian regional conference of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association in November 2020. I am not an expert on medical missions but spoke from our experience in walking with God and witnessing a great transformation take place in our hospital.

If the poor are our target population, we must enter into their world and look at healthcare options from their perspective. We must understand the social and economic conditions that drive their health-seeking behavior. When poor people come to our hospitals, should develop protocols that recognize their financial vulnerability reliably and offer them subsidy or charity before they sell vital assets. A good understanding of this ‘world of the poor’ will lead to practices and protocols which tell them that ‘this hospital is for people like us’. This will lead to large volumes of patients coming to the hospital, high capacity utilization of services resulting in further lowering of costs and transformational impact in their communities.

Pro-poor strategies are sustainable and grounded on well-established principles. We must understand the market forces that affect healthcare locally and leverage them to the advantage of the poor. Quality can be ensured without losing cost-effectiveness or sustainability. In places where healthcare indices are poor, good practices can improve them significantly without much investment due to increased volumes of excluded people beginning to access quality affordable healthcare.

We have described successful innovations which make poor-centric strategies work with our experience over the past 27 years at Makunda but there are reasons why others hesitate to adopt them. Makunda was able to overcome the initial inertia and make changes and this can happen only if we understand the reasons why people do not want to change and address them.

We should make well-thought business plans and finetune them till they are just right. If external support is needed, we should choose the right partners to work with who do not compromise on our mission and values. Many mission hospitals were established by the founders in remote locations but over many decades find themselves now in the center of towns that have grown around them facing competition from many other private and government healthcare providers. A sound business plan should also take this situation into consideration and design a strategy that will enable the work to thrive inspite of external competition.

In the question-and-answer session at the end of the talk, the questions have not been recorded in the video. They are:

  • What can we do if our staff can’t manage with our low salaries? – it is a sacrifice that staff have to bear with the only assurance that God would take care of them.
  • You mentioned that you identify poor people by how little they eat, won’t rich people do the same to get charity?
  • How can we prevent ourselves from being cheated into giving charity?
  • What are some other successful models in healthcare for the poor?
  • What can be done if we don’t have sufficient long-term staff?
  • How can we handle corruption and demands for bribes?
  • If I am interested in mission work, where can I join?

References:

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342551561_The_Makunda_Model_An_Observational_Study_of_High_Quality_Accessible_Healthcare_in_Low-Resource_Settings

Medical Missionary Work – Nurturing and Motivating Students and Staff

18 Feb

Christian mission hospitals should be God’s institutions of healing in a world of suffering. They have the potential to ‘close the gap’ in access to healthcare and provide high quality accessible services in the most remote and needy parts of the world to those who need them the most – the poor and marginalized.

In 1993, my wife Ann and me moved to a remote part of Assam in northeast India. We were led by verses in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13 for me and Isaiah 6:8 for Ann) to what God wanted us to do with our lives. Over the following 27 years, God took us by our hands and provided us with all the encouragement, strength and wisdom required to transform a closed-down hospital to a thriving institution bringing healing and transformation to many surrounding communities. (1) We were not alone, God brought many committed staff to join us over the years to make this possible.

I was privileged to be invited to speak at six sessions on “Medical Missions” at the (virtual) South Asian regional conference of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association in November 2020. I am not an expert on medical missions but spoke from our experience in walking with God and witnessing a great transformation take place in our hospital.

The video starts with a short clinical illustration to show why we need to have all our faculties focused on our work lest we miss a vital observation (a point discussed in the previous day’s question and answer session).

Where will our staff come from? – this is a burning question facing most mission hospital leaders. We cannot wait for people to apply for jobs in our hospital, we need to get involved in the lives of medical, nursing and paramedical students in their colleges. Only then will we have sufficient numbers of high-quality committed staff joining us. From experience 33 years earlier to the present, I talk about suggestions on how this can be done. A slip of the tongue at 6.30 – in the illustration, I meant “my mother” not “my wife”!

Mission minded students start their missionary work as students in colleges, I have mentioned several observations on how good practices lead to transformational impact in college fellowships.

What about staff who join our hospitals today? How can we engage with them so that they live and work to their full God-given potential? How do we retain committed staff in our institutions? How can we make our hospitals professionally challenging places for our staff – where they feel that their skills and knowledge are being fully utilized?

How can we provide a pleasant and fulfilling life on campus to our staff? I close the session with a story that illustrates how God can surmount the greatest obstacles and provide us with the staff we need.

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/

Medical Missionary Work – Leadership and Human Resource Management

7 Feb

Christian mission hospitals should be God’s institutions of healing in a world of suffering. They have the potential to ‘close the gap’ in access to healthcare and provide high quality accessible services in the most remote and needy parts of the world to those who need them the most – the poor and marginalized.

In 1993, my wife Ann and me moved to a remote part of Assam in northeast India. We were led by verses in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13 for me and Isaiah 6:8 for Ann) to what God wanted us to do with our lives. Over the following 27 years, God took us by our hands and provided us with all the encouragement, strength and wisdom required to transform a closed-down hospital to a thriving institution bringing healing and transformation to many surrounding communities. (1) We were not alone, God brought many committed staff to join us over the years to make this possible.

I was privileged to be invited to speak at six sessions on “Medical Missions” at the (virtual) South Asian regional conference of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association in November 2020. I am not an expert on medical missions but spoke from our experience in walking with God and witnessing a great transformation take place in our hospital.

The video (link below) starts with a few comments on questions raised by participants in the previous day’s session (this can be skipped by starting the video at 04.30). The first comment is on cost vs benefit of different healthcare interventions.  I have explained the expenditure against population covered using 3 slides – maybe difficult to understand without the background discussion! This is followed by a few points on Christian private practice and marriage before the talk on leadership and human resource management.

In this third session, we will look at leadership in mission hospitals – please skip to 04.30 on the video.  In this talk, I have spoken about ‘Title’ and ‘Towel’ leaders, management/governance structure, suggestions for recruitment and retention of staff and succession planning.

I have made a few references in the session – on marriage (2), online course on governance in health (3)

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/
  2. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2012/05/22/wisely-choosing-a-life-partner-for-an-aspiring-medical-missionary/
  3. https://www.globalhealthlearning.org/course/governance-and-health-101

In the question and answer session at the end, only the answers have been put into the video. The questions were:

  1. Should I consider Government service or a corporate hospital as a place of work if God is calling me there?
  2. How important is Quiet Time?
  3. Who were your mentors?
  4. What is the place of Urban Medical Missions?

Medical Missionary Work – Strategic Planning and Stock-taking

3 Feb

Christian mission hospitals should be God’s institutions of healing in a world of suffering. They have the potential to ‘close the gap’ in access to healthcare and provide high quality accessible services in the most remote and needy parts of the world to those who need them the most – the poor and marginalized.

In 1993, my wife Ann and me moved to a remote part of Assam in northeast India. We were led by verses in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13 for me and Isaiah 6:8 for Ann) to what God wanted us to do with our lives. Over the following 27 years, God took us by our hands and provided us with all the encouragement, strength and wisdom required to transform a closed-down hospital to a thriving institution bringing healing and transformation to many surrounding communities. (1) We were not alone, God brought many committed staff to join us over the years to make this possible.

I was privileged to be invited to speak at six sessions on “Medical Missions” at the (virtual) South Asian regional conference of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association in November 2020. I am not an expert on medical missions but spoke from our experience in walking with God and witnessing a great transformation take place in our hospital.

In this second session, we will look at areas of medical mission work that are not taught in medical college. How do we take stock of the situation in our hospitals and make wise plans for the future?

At the end of the session, I have answered questions from the group. Unfortunately, the recording does not include the questions (only the answers). The questions are:

  1. How do we manage burnout in our staff? – sometimes we really are physically exhausted beyond out capacity but often there are other reasons.
  2. How do we manage differences in opinion with other senior officers of the institution? – we can’t win arguments, but we need to win hearts.
  3. What can we do if there are irreconcilable differences with our partners? – we can list out our differences and give time for change, sometimes we may need to break the partnership.
  4. What do you do when workloads become too much to bear? – God will give strength from above – through verses, songs, people…
  5. Do we need to be serious about our work at all times, can we entertain ourselves too? – it is a tremendous responsibility to treat patients, their lives are in our hands and we cannot afford to be careless.
  6. When can we stop learning? – Never!
  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/

Medical Missionary Work – for the Allied Health Professional

2 Feb

Allied Health Professionals (pharmacists, laboratory and other technicians, optometrists, neurophysiologists etc.) are often the unheard and unseen background support system of our mission hospitals. I thank the Christian Medical Association of India for inviting me to speak to them at their 2020 Annual Conference for Allied Health Professionals. I have spoken from our experience at the Makunda Christian Leprosy and General Hospital over 27 years – a testament to God’s blessings and the hard work of numerous co-workers (1). I hope that this video is an encouragement to allied health professionals (and students) in Christian mission hospitals all over the world. May God bless them and make them a blessing to many. I apologize for short segments of the recording that are inaudible (it was recorded over the internet).

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/

Medical Missionary Work – Introduction, Attitudes and Promise

31 Jan

Christian mission hospitals should be God’s institutions of healing in a world of suffering. They have the potential to ‘close the gap’ in access to healthcare and provide high quality accessible services in the most remote and needy parts of the world to those who need them the most – the poor and marginalized.

In 1993, my wife Ann and me moved to a remote part of Assam in northeast India. We were led by verses in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11-13 for me and Isaiah 6:8 for Ann) to what God wanted us to do with our lives. Over the following 27 years, God took us by our hands and provided us with all the encouragement, strength and wisdom required to transform a closed-down hospital to a thriving institution bringing healing and transformation to many surrounding communities. (1) We were not alone, God brought many committed staff  to join us over the years – without them this transformation would not have been possible.

I was privileged to be invited to speak on the theme “Medical Missions” at the (virtual) South Asian regional conference of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association in November 2020. I am not an expert on medical missions but spoke from our experience in walking with God and witnessing a great transformation take place in our hospital as well as from observations on medical missions over many years.

The first session is here – I have given a short testimony, an introduction to medical missions and suggest several important attitudes to cultivate to be fruitful in God’s service:

  1. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/09/30/a-journey-of-faith/
  2. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2014/04/28/attitudes-to-cultivate-for-the-aspiring-medical-missionary/

A Journey of Faith

30 Sep

My wife Ann and me were privileged to speak last year at the LEADTalks 2019 conference (1) in Bangalore – a forum that challenges and encourages young Christian people to live lives of purpose, integrity and excellence – we thank the organizers for the opportunity and pray that God would continue to bless their initiative in the years to come.

In 1992, within a year of our marriage we set out from Tamil Nadu in South India to Assam in northeast India (2,3). We were searching for a place that would provide us with an opportunity to be of the greatest transformational impact with the time, talents and treasure that God had blessed us with. For this, I had developed a simple formula to choose a location – the potential for the greatest transformational impact by an individual = the total population (in that location) that could avail his/her services divided by the total number of other people with his/her qualifications / skills etc. So, we were looking for a place that was thickly populated with few healthcare institutions which meant somewhere far away from home in urban Tamil Nadu.

28 years have passed since our first visit to Makunda, God took us by our hands and blessed us with wisdom, strength and encouragement. A small start in 1993 (4) has become a thriving institution today, providing services to many (5). It was all due to God’s grace and the hard work of many highly committed co-workers who laboured with us. Mission institutions provide transformational impact across the world in areas of great need and are key to ‘closing the gap’ in access to services to the poor and marginalized (6). Unfortunately, many are sick and the story of Makunda is an example of how God can revive and rebuild one of His institutions if we are willing to go with Him on a “Journey of Faith”. This is a short video of our talk:

References:

  1. https://www.leadtalks.org/
  2. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2016/02/19/short-video-of-our-work-made-by-emmanuel-hospital-association/
  3. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2017/09/13/obeying-a-call-to-medical-missions-a-testimony/
  4. https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2018/05/12/early-days-at-makunda/
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342551561_The_Makunda_Model_An_observational_study_of_high_quality_accessible_healthcare_in_low-resource_settings
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322476512_’Closing_the_Gap’_-_Using_Global_Health_Doctors

All Creatures Great and Small

27 May

My previous blog-post was about my experience documenting biodiversity over most of the previous decade. Readers may read it here: https://the-sparrowsnest.net/2020/04/29/all-things-bright-and-beautiful/

I closed that post with this song which we all sang during our school days:

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all

– Song by Cecil Frances Alexander

This post is entirely filled with photographs that God has enabled me to take over the years. Browse through them and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I took them. I have written short notes to accompany each image. If you want to see more of my images, please visit my Flickr site ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/ivijayanand/ ) and if you want to see them as observations, they are here ( https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/ivijayanand )

The Blue-throated Barbet (Psilopogon asiatica) is one of the commonest birds on our campus. This photo shows the rich colouring of this beautiful bird. It is also an example of an ideal bird photo – head turned just right with a good ‘bokeh’ in the background.

This is a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (Clamator coromandus). Cuckoos are known to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds – brood parasitism. This species lays its eggs in the nests of the necklaced laughingthrushes.

One of the common birds of our campus, the White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) – it has a beautiful song. A recording of its call is here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/248160

One of the night owls, the Brown Boobook (Ninox scutulata). It is very difficult to get a daytime photograph like this one.

Birds display behaviour and emotions like other living creatures. Two Spotted Owlets (Athene brama) enjoy sitting out side by side with some allo-preening.

Phayre’s Leaf Langurs (Trachypithecus phayrei) are a species of Endangered primate that is found in our area.

The common Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) – the first photo shows a couple eating a tuber and the second one shows juveniles at playtime.

One of our campus orchids (Eulophia zollingeri). Orchids are one of the two largest families (along with Asteraceae) of flowering plants. This one is a terrestrial orchid (growing on the ground). The first orchids discovered were terrestrial and had two tubers underground – they were therefore named orchids due to their resemblance to testes.

Another common campus species, this time an epiphytic one – growing on trees – Cymbidium bicolor

Aeginitia indica is a root-parasite. The shoots come up from the forest floor in the monsoon season and soon produce the colourful flowers.

Forests inside our campus are home to all sorts of flora. This is an unusual fern, Helminthostachys zeylanica.

Forests are full of fungi of all sizes and colours – including these tiny vivid red mushrooms – Hygrocybe sp.

North East India is home to unique herpetofauna. This is a pit viper from our campus – Trimeresurus erythrurus

Our campus is home to large non-venomous snakes as well. This is a Burmese Python – Python bivittatus

All living creatures employ a number of measures to survive, including mimicry. This tiny frog looks like a bird-dropping on a leaf – Theloderma baibungense

The largest bats in the world are found across India. This is the Flying Fox – Pteropus giganteus – a mother bat breast-feeding an infant inflight.

One of the common squirrel species here in our campus is the Pallas’s Squirrel – Callosciurus erythaeus

A family of Asian Small-Clawed Otters – Aonyx cinerea – found in our campus as well as in surrounding areas. These are the smallest species of Otters in the world.

One of the common species of Mongoose in our campus, the Crab-eating Mongoose – Herpestes urva

North East India has seen a lot of elephant-human conflict in recent years, not surprising as people encroach into their habitats. These are wild elephants – about to enter a tea-estate bordering jungle.

Makunda has a wonderful arachnid biodiversity. This is one of our tarantulas – Chilobrachys assamensis – about the size of one’s palm.

Another ground-level view of the same tarantula – showing iridiscent blue colouring on its legs. Tarantulas are kept as pets in some parts of the world.

Spiders come in all shapes and sizes. This is a tiny one that mimics ants – Amyciaea forticeps

This spider looks like a piece of thread – Ariamnes sp.

A rare colourful spider. This one is Platythomisus octomaculatus – rediscovered in India after 120 years by members of our “Makunda Nature Club”. The story is here: http://diversityindianews.blogspot.com/2017/02/rare-spider-spotted-in-remote-hospital.html

There are cunning spiders too. This one is a Portia sp. – known to be an ‘intelligent’ spider, this one uses different strategies to fool and eat other spiders, including drumming on a web to appear as prey.

Many butterflies are named after Shakespeare characters and ranks of the Armed Forces. This is a rare one from our campus – the Harlequin – Taxila haquinus

We have many colourful dragonflies. This one is especially bright and beautiful with a mettallic iridescence – The Greater Bluewing – Rhyothemis plutonia

Most people think that moths are dull and boring. These are male and female Thyidid moths of the species Glanycus insolitus. Identifying moths is not easy – I still struggle, sometimes not even able to identify which family a moth belongs to – I thank experts like Roger Kendrick who have patiently identified moths for me on Facebook and iNaturalist over the years for my limited knowledge of moths.

Two more spectacular moths. Carriola sp. on the left with its intricate green veins within clear windows and Nevrina procopia on the right with its delicate patterning.

I’m closing this post with a snail. This one has small spines on its shell and belongs to the genus Endothyrella. I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I did taking them and learning about these creatures – great and small, the Lord God made them all.