Tony's first experience of volunteering

Tony spoke with Equal Health prior to his first trip to India and reports back after his time of volunteering.

Firstly, I am grateful to Equal Health for providing me with the opportunity to volunteer. I am especially grateful for Equal Health organising such a wonderful group of people to share this experience with me in Tamil Nadu 2014!

What a place! The immersion into the rural scene of Tamil Nadu was hardly arduous with very comfortable accommodation and great food, along with simply having to 'follow the leader' with regard to day-to-day organisation.

The team as whole seemed to share a very genuine interest in providing best practice in their respective professions, and remained enthusiastic and adaptable throughout the two weeks. Formal and informal debriefing exposed a group unity and collegiate concern that was very supportive.

A special thanks to Alice and Claire, Medical Team extraordinaire. Truly knowledgeable, respectful, professional and caring, great organisers, never a complaint ... and letting me have the occasional dummy spit without too much fuss!

There were no real surprises medically, however decision making was often constrained given our main tool was communication through an interpreter, and time was limited.

Our patients were poor, often malnourished, and not infrequently, very anaemic. Invariably best saris were worn, children scrubbed and hair immaculate. For whatever we did, we were well received, a smile to take home.

There was, however, too frequently a sense of sadness. For instance, a 40-ish year old agricultural worker with three daughters whom he was struggling to feed. I was embarrassed by my inadequacy. I could do little but listen.

I commend Equal Health on its many tiered organisational skills and professionalism.

I recommend volunteering with Equal Health to anyone who wishes to invest their skills and time.

Again, I thank team Trichy 2014 for being such a wonderful and warm group of people.

Tony McDevitt, General Practitioner, Thirroul, New South Wales
India Camp 2014 volunteer