Newsletter Sep2011 – Warm Greetings from ShantManas Madurai

September is the month when millions of Hindus all over India commemorate and celebrate Lord Ganesha’s magnanimous capacity to ‘remove all obstacles’ in one’s path. Beautiful, colourful and sanctified clay figures of Ganesha, son of Shiva, of enormous sizes, decorated with fresh flowers and festoons, are installed in public locations, street corners and open grounds for people to worship and ask for HIS benevolence in removing any obstacles in their own lives.

HE must have been casting HIS long eye on ShantManas too!. We were worried when our very talented social worker, Vigneshwaran, left us recently to further his career elsewhere. But we needn’t have. SM found, in Arun Kumar, a promising and sincere new social work recruit.
Medical cover too had been faltering lately. Dr Ganga has had to move on. However an unexpected possibility of overcoming this obstacle has appeared, literally, as it were, out of thin air. A chance meeting on the 14th with a certain Dr Fenn, a local psychiatrist of good repute, has opened another door for us!. She has offered free home visitation (along with her own qualified nurse!) to see service users, atleast once a month.

Earlier in the week there was this one-day Seminar on ‘The role of the social worker in the Indian community’ for 97 MSW students all crammed into, and overflowing, the hall at SM designed for no more than 50! And then there was this lecture to be delivered at the Madurai School of Nursing on the ‘The essentials of holistic nursing’ for around 80 general nursing students!. Fear, trepidation and exhaustion was almost palpable in the presenter, but by Lord Ganesha’s Grace the lectures went well and the feedback was good!

There is no respite here really when Bhuvaneswari (senior social worker) is around and organising things for others! She would insist its only for the good of the community! The idea was to conduct a free ‘medical camp’ in a new village that SM had adopted recently. One lone doctor, with some ‘crowd control’ help from 2 social workers and 4 MSW’s acting as ‘usherettes’, managed to survive the challenge (felt more like ordeal!) of conducting physical examinations of some 80 odd people (including a couple of very young babies and several octogenarians), and prescribing whatever required, over a 6 hr period. Being thrown in the deep end – wait for it – with your feet tied together!!. Dont ask me how I survived the week of manic madness – some mysterious benevolent forces at work perhaps? Or do your bit and get out quick?!

SM’s presence is in 8 villages now with an estimated 30k population. All current users and past ones too are well and most are fruitfully occupied and coping ok.We have been received well in the new villages.
Our MSW student placement programme is also going well and continues to be rated highly by the students.

The distances traveled by our team has increased as new villages have been added on. Travel is mainly by ‘share -auto’ (3 wheeler scooter taxi), public buses, and by foot, especially when students accompany our staff. We would love to acquire a small used Indian van sitting 7 people (of course not the enormous ‘people carrier’ of the West) for the team’s transport purposes. Perhaps Lord Ganesha will show us the way in the future!!

The work that we try to do here is only made possible with the time, support and good will of the many ‘Friends of SM’ in the UK, the US, and India.
We are most grateful for all the generous help that we receive from all of you.
Please come and be our guests when you can!

Thank you very much.
May Lord Ganesha’s Blessings be with you – always.

Cahn Vasudevan & SM Team