One of the community meetings
The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India and Bangladesh, about her recent visit to Serve Train Educate People's Society-STEPS.
In order to get to this small town in Southern Andhra Pradesh, I had to catch a flight and then travel by road for another hour. All I knew was that Kalahasti is a small town and was expecting a small low capacity organization. What I found, was a modest office that runs healthcare services for 18 areas within Kalahasti, equipped with outreach staff, project leads, and community centers that address challenging areas of TB, Malaria, Pre-Natal education, Malnutrition and many other issues - all done with a very modest budget.
At the center of all of this activity is Dr. Prameelamma, who has dedicated her life to servicing this community, along with her husband. As we travelled through and visiting multiple community center clinics in different slums, and heard stories from her about the community, there were so many people who would come up to her to say hello. Locally, she is known by almost everyone as she is frequently on the ground, seeing patients or running awareness sessions.
What struck me was the sophistication in delivering their programs. An example is their TB program, which requires almost 100% outreach, so when they hear of even one outbreak, STEPS can mobilize to stop the spread. In order to accomplish this 100% reach in 16 areas, they work with grassroots organizations and trained outreach staff to survey, gather incidence information and run medical tests.
The malaria program, posted on global giving is another fantastic program. The patients Prameelamma recognizes that patients cannot travel far, so STEPS has set up local centers, where they see patients, distribute medication as per patient charts, conduct weekly meetings to educate communities on sanitation and prevention and nutrition. As you see the pictures on the project page, you can see the level of swelling and ulcers which are extremely painful and cause difficulty in walking. I learned that these are primarily due to malnutrion plus mosquito bites in these areas or drinking mosquito infested water. The local area is industrial and filled with quarries where stagnant water is prevalent. The result is that the weakest or the poorest and neglected segment of society suffers without access to adequate healthcare or nutrition. Several patients that I spoke to could not stop expressing their gratitude that this support was available and I feel privileged for having seen their work.
One of the recipients of malaria care
Distribution of nutritional kits
Another patient receiving care
One of the slums
A map of Kalahasthi and the impact in the city