Free Healthcare Fair: St. Ann City, MO
“Health is the foundation on which human life rests. There is no greater wealth than health. What is the origin of this word 'Health'? It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Heilig ', meaning that which is sacred and pure.” ~ Sathya Sai Baba, Divine Discourse "Unity is Divinity", 20 Nov 1998.
The first free health fair organized by the Sathya Sai Centers in the Greater St. Louis area, was held 16 years ago at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in St. Louis, MO in 2003. What began on a small scale, providing a few general health check-ups, has now expanded into an annual event offering a comprehensive range of more than thirty health services targeted at the health of the body, mind and spirit.
In 2018, the health fair was held on Oct 8th at the Holy Trinity Church in the St. Anne parish and served more than 185 attendees, including 79 children. There were 32 medical and paramedical professionals who provided a myriad of health services including dental cleaning and exams, mental and behavioral health services, hearing and vision check-up and nutrition education. The medical and paramedical volunteers were recruited through extensive networking with several local hospitals and community health centers.
As the church is located in a predominantly Hispanic community, there were also 58 Spanish-speaking interpreters recruited from various local organizations. Non-medical volunteers comprised of Sai Center members and older Sai Spiritual Education students who worked to ensure the health fair ran smoothly.
A new service offered was Physical Therapy to teach attendees good posture and ways to alleviate chronic lower back pain. Mental health issues of depression, drug and alcohol addictions were assessed by psychologists and followed up with appropriate referral. Breath awareness for relieving stress was a popular session and well-attended. The St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center brought in pet dogs to introduce attendees to the value of pets in promoting mental well-being. Various booths displayed health information on how the steadfast practice of human values can promote both physical and mental health.
By the end of the fair, 81 attendees had received free flu shots, 15 women were registered for mammograms, 58 children were safely fitted with bicycle helmets and 13 infant car seats that were found defective were replaced. Attendees also received many freebees including reading glasses, dental hygiene kits, first aid kits, sports balls and goody bags for children containing pencils, crayons and coloring books. A talk on the importance of saving the earth by recycling was conveyed by 10K Pencils organizers, who gave away recycled pencils and crayons. Each attendee at this health fair also received a lunch bag. All attendees left the fair with a list of free clinics and clinics offering a sliding scale fee for follow up care.
Despite the hot and humid weather, everyone diligently stayed till the very end and carried out their duties with a spirit of sacrifice, some even forgoing their lunch. At the end of the health camp, the overcast sky burst into heavy down pour of rains- a sign of blessings from heaven for both the healthcare team and the attendees at the health fair.