First-Aid Course for Students of SKSN - Suhina Patel  

In December 2013, I had the privilege of visiting with my parents Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN), the largest school for physically handicapped children in India, and Polio Children’s primary program of support in India

Standing beside the school motto near the main entrance to the school.

I started preparing for this visit 6 months prior to learning from my dad and the school administrators, that most of the children at SKSN weren’t familiar with the basic concepts of First-Aid. The first thing I did was to obtain certification in First-Aid so that I could teach these students. Also, I started inquiring into places where I could find basic materials for first-aid treatment and sent e-mails to companies manufacturing bandages and ointments for donations. I must say, I was quite disappointed when I did not get many responses and the few who did declined. Fortunately, I came across information on Intervol, a voluntary organization where one can get a wide variety of medical supplies in exchange for volunteering time at their premise or for a small fee. Armed with my newly acquired credential and 2 bags of medical supplies, I was ready for the trip; or so I thought, until I realized that I did not speak the local language and the SKSN children’s knowledge of English language was quite limited. ‘Divine’ intervention once gain came from Sneh auntie (Executive Director of SKSN), who was guiding me in my project all along. She arranged for two of her interns to act as interpreters.

The classes went without a hitch, although I must admit I was quite nervous at the beginning. To break the ice, Sneh auntie asked me to share an average school day in New York and my extracurricular activities that I participated in. I wasn’t sure if the students – most of them older than me – would be interested in ‘western’ medicine. But to my surprise, they asked many questions and also got involved in bandaging each other – some with comical results. They also shared with me how they managed minor cuts and bruise the ‘eastern’ way, like rubbing oil on the wound to dull the pain. I was also thrilled to spend a couple of nights with the girls in their hostel dormitory. I was able to get to know the senior girls, especially Nanni much better. They were so excited when they got hold of my phone and went through all my pictures and videos. They even tried to copy my American accent with hilarious results. I was nervous because since I don’t speak Hindi, I thought it would be quite boring just staying there for a night; however, to my surprise, it was so much fun and I didn’t want to leave.

SKSN students listen attentively to my presentation with a lot of help from my interpreter

Our last stop was the school pharmacy.  We were able to help them stocked up with the supplies that we had brought.

Helping Mr. Laxman, school pharmacy technician, stockup with supplies I had brought.

Although my stay at SKSN was brief, I believe I learned much more from the students than they did from me. I know I will never take anything, especially the excellent healthcare we have in our country, for granted. I will always value the experience I hope to return for a longer period of time in the near future


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