On Boxing Day, eight Lower Sixth students travelled to India for what was to be a truly unique and memorable sightseeing and medical experience trip. The trip began by visiting historic sights in New Delhi, before travelling to Agra to explore the iconic Taj Mahal, which was utterly majestic and in no way overrated.
Following a long drive to Jaipur, students saw the largest sundial in the world and the city palace, before a fabulous excursion to the famous Amber Fort where they saw elephants and camels, and toured the extensive battlements and architecture.
The group ventured on to Jodhpur, courtesy of a nine-hour bus marathon through Rajasthan on what were allegedly main roads, during which a short pitstop was required to get the gear stick welded back onto the bus in order to allow the driver to make use of gears other than third.
“Students observed surgery to remove a football-sized ovarian tumour, ultrasound scans and the birth of a healthy baby boy”
Once in Jodhpur, the medical element of the trip came to the fore, with students gaining unparalleled experience. They attended medical camps in remote villages, learning how to test blood pressure, analyse urine samples for diabetes and assess patients for cataracts. At the eye hospital they observed cataract surgery, acted as operating theatre assistants (preparing patients for surgery, supporting the surgeon and bandaging patients).
During visits to the maternity hospital, students observed a range of procedures, including surgery to remove a football-sized ovarian tumour, Caesarean section delivery, ultrasound scans and incredibly, some students witnessed, first-hand, the birth of a healthy baby boy; although this was moments before being shown a severely premature baby who had only just lost his fight for survival. While very upsetting, this taught the students the reality of life and death in the medical profession. They handled these experiences with great maturity and sensitivity.
We donated hundreds of pencils and other stationary to schools, contributed to the local economy when visiting remote villages, and in a student-led venture (funded by themselves, and instigated by Omnia Ali) purchased and donated 160 pairs of shoes to two poverty-stricken villages for the children, many of whom spend their childhood walking everywhere barefoot.
“Epsom College has been recognised on the Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital’s honours’ board as a major donor”
Due to extensive fundraising efforts over the last 12 months, the group raised over 1.4million rupees (close to £15,000) for the Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital in Jodhpur, our major charity partner in this trip. Epsom College has been recognised on the hospital’s honours’ board as a major donor in light of these efforts, and previous contributions by the College to this most worthwhile of charities.
The trip was rounded off with sightseeing in Jodhpur including the city market, palace and fort.
Dr Vaishali Patel, Mr David Nuthall and I accompanied the group and unanimously agreed that the students displayed a truly outstanding attitude throughout the entire experience. The trip was a valuable opportunity for students to expand their medical knowledge and cultural awareness in a way that will add a unique story to their CV and future university applications.
Mr Daniel Reeve