the Gypsy Village Meets ECHO (EC Group Health Outreach)

If you’ve been keeping up with our outreach news, you’ve seen that we’ve been doing a lot of activities with the Gypsy village not far outside of the city of Chennai. Our last visit was for our Christmas party celebration. We visited again last week, this time as part of the annual EC Group medical camp.

Many rural villages in India don’t receive or don’t have access to the kind of medical care many of us take for granted, but the villagers of Mel Nalathur have a unique situation. This group is also called Narikuravars, or nomads. Indian society is very hierarchical by tradition, and the Narikuravars are the lowest rung on the ladder. Many people even see them as “untouchable.”

Never before have our friends benefitted from a medical camp, so we were glad to be able to partner behind some medical professionals who could provide them with the help they need. Overall, one general physician, one dentist, three ophthalmologists, two nurses, two pharmacists, and 28 additional volunteers participated in the medical camp. Altogether, 140 people were seen, 20 will receive reading glasses, three will receive cataract surgery, and five will have their teeth filled.

Despite the lack of medical care, many of the villagers were in excellent health. (There’s a rumor going around that it’s because they’ve been eating fox meat, and fox apparently boosts the immune system…) They’re a very kind and joyful group, so it’s nice to see them have some of their needs met.In the future, we hope to be able to play a role in the group’s education as well. Right now the literacy rate of the village is only 10%. Hopefully our future efforts will help empower the next generation to lead more secure lives. Keep checking back for updates on the gypsies!

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