Medical Camp, Jasper, TX
The year, 2018, marked the fifteenth anniversary of the SSIO partnership with the Gulf Coast Health Center in hosting a medical camp for disadvantaged communities. The medical camp took place at the Harvest Church in Jasper, Texas on June 2, 2018, and provided free basic healthcare services to about 125 guests from diverse populations. This included African Americans and Hispanics, all from low income households. For many of them, the medical camp was their only opportunity to access healthcare services which, otherwise, they could not afford.
Volunteers at the camp consisted of seven medical doctors and approximately 70 non-medical personnel, including 30 Young Adults and 10 children from Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) classes. Volunteers were drawn from the North and South Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Longview Sai Centers. The volunteers helped register and check-out patients, served as ushers to lead patients around the camp and distributed food supplies.
All patients had their height, weight, cholesterol level and blood pressure measured. Blood work and glucose testing were also carried out. Patients were offered a basic hearing screening, and people with certified impairments received a cell phone to accommodate their needs. Patients could also receive a vision check, and if needed, volunteers would find recycled glasses that matched the patient’s prescription.
A basic dental examination was made available and patients were provided information on low-cost dental centers if they needed further examination and treatment. Each patient also received a hygiene kit upon completion of the dental exam. Services for women included a breast examination to check for irregularities, and counseling services related to women’s issues. Two doctors checked patients’ heart and lung functionality, discussed their healthcare concerns with them, and made recommendations for further treatment.
In addition to medical services, Sai volunteers knew they had to address the issue of food scarcity, which many of the guests faced in their lives. Volunteers collected and donated over 8,000 cans of food to replenish the pantry on the church premises. They also provided bags of food supplies to patients as they exited the medical camp. In addition, to encourage bicycle safety among children, volunteers purchased and distributed bicycle helmets to children.
Various regional healthcare organizations had booths set up to educate patients about the various low-cost healthcare facilities in the area. The SSIO also set up a booth to educate people on the goals of the organization and its activities. In addition, Dr. V.R. Kovvali, a cardiologist at the Heart Institute of East Texas, gave a presentation about the symptoms, risk factors, prevention, testing and treatment of heart disease, which patients found very useful.
To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the medical camp and in recognition of the dedicated service by the SSIO, the Gulf Coast Health Center presented the Sai volunteers with a cake and a plaque. The representative from the Heath Center recollected fondly the steady partnership with the Sai Organization over the past 15 years. He also expressed their appreciation of how Sai volunteers have clearly exemplified Sai Baba’s teaching of “Love All Serve All” and “Help ever and Hurt never”.
Sai volunteers felt gratified to receive positive feedback from the guests. One of the guests shared she had just moved into the area and was unsure as to how to access the local healthcare services. Her joy knew no bounds when she saw the advertisement for the medical camp and she thanked the organizers profusely for coming to her rescue. Several guests who had previously not been able to get a diagnosis for their ailments, were grateful for finally getting an opportunity to do so.
Two SSE students from Dallas shared how volunteering at the camp had been a positive experience, they felt motivated to return to serve again. They also learned the importance of volunteers going out of their way to serve a needy community.
For the human being love and service are like two wings, with the help of which, one should strive to realize the spirit.
Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 28 Ch. 34, November 21, 1995