Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Solar Panels and Handball Trophies

Today marked the fifth day of our cohort’s interaction with the Selco organization, the second on our visit to their rural Manipal location.

Today marked the fifth day of our cohort’s interaction with the Selco organization, the second on our visit to their rural Manipal location. After a quick group reflection in the morning, our day began at the Selco office with a lecture from staff focusing on the technical aspects of their interventions. We heard anecdotes varying from local healthcare to blacksmiths, explaining the challenges this rural community faces and the potential benefit solar panels could provide for Manipal. With a deeper understanding of Selco’s interventions within the community, we planned to venture out for site visits seeing the solar panels in action. But first, a break for lunch.

We were treated to an amazing meal at a local temple, which to no ones surprise had Selco solar panels on the roof! This unexpected lunch Location proved to be the most immersive meal of the past three weeks. We were herded with the crowd in long lines, resembling a cattle barn back home. We joined the locals sitting cross legged on the floor as servers came through the aisles and poured various curries over white rice in front of us. As is the custom, we all got our hands dirty trying to shovel rice into our mouths with no silverware in sight. 

 Following the third course of curries and a sweet bite we left for our next destination, the local first tier community health center. This location provides free basic medical and maternity services for the low income community. We had the opportunity to interview the doctor on staff and learn about the tiered structure of the Indian healthcare system.

Running behind schedule we hurried off to our next site visit, a rural private school. We arrived just after school let out and the children had left to catch the bus, but we still had time to follow a teacher on the grand tour. It was inspiring how proud our tour guide was to share both her new technology from Selco as well as her numerous handball trophies.

Our day concluded back at the Selco office, analyzing the differences between healthcare systems in India and the United States. My peers and I contrasted the systems, highlighting the community based programs in India and the controversial presence of private health insurance in the United States.

Blog entry by Karl Hedlund


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