ASHWINI

A hospital of tribals, for tribals, by tribals

Deep in the misty Nilgiri hills, an inspiring revolution has been taking place since 1985. A revolution that’s truly inspiring but not many people are aware of. That revolution is ACCORD or Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development – an organisation that helps the adivasi community of the Gudalur Valley in the Nilgiris to take control of their own lives.

Gudalur, a lush green valley nestled at the confluence of the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is home to adivasis — the original inhabitants for several centuries.

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How it all began

“It does not matter if you save a life by giving Intravenous fluids or by doing a complicated surgery. The bottom line is that you have saved a life.”

These are the words of Dr. Nandakumar Menon, founder member of ASHWINI and director of the Gudalur Adivasi Hospital. It was in the mid-1980s that he first came to Gudulur – with a jhola on his shoulder, sporting dusty, rubber bathroom chappals, having bus-hopped from Kerala to Gudalur (Tamil Nadu). It was his search for their i.e. he and his wife Shylaja Devi Menon’s dream village that had brought him there. He had heard through connections with his alma mater that they were looking for doctors to run a hospital here.

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Volunteering Opportunities

The hospital has attracted young doctors inspired by Dr. Nandakumar and Shyla, the challenging work, and the fantastic teamspirit prevalent at the Gudalur Adivasi Hospital. Emma, from faraway Scotland, Henry from St John’s, Bangalore, paediatrician Sreedhar from Vellore, Mary and Rajkumar from Oddanchatram, Bharat and Deepa from the UK, Gail from Canada and even a gold medallist ENT specialist Ramesh from the AIIMS, Delhi. Dr P G Premila, head of the paediatric department, government hospital, Trivandrum, spent two years training nurses and healthworkers.

Do consider a stint with them if you’re a practising or upcoming doctor/nurse.

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