In 1991 a small group of doctors and nurses went to one of the most underserved parts of our country to work among the tribals of the Lamptaput district, Orissa.
Seen in the picture (from left): a young Dr. Varghese Philip, Bobby (an engineer), Deen Dayal (who later became community health coordinator), Shaji (now the construction supervisor), Dr. Nirmala Philip & 2 nurses - and the daughters of Drs. VP and Nirmala
[Drs. Manoj and Manju were at CMC Ludhiana for their PG studies].
This week we had the unique privilege of hosting one of the original band - Dr. Manoj Jacob.
Initially working out of an old rice godown, they literally started from scratch. Many hardships, many experiences of trusting God, many tears but also many amazing experiences later we now have the Asha Kiran Hospital - a centre of a thriving wholeistic community health and development.
A group of trained community health volunteers from tribal villages
Working with women and men from local tribal groups - the folks at Asha Kiran have been able to reduce infant and maternal mortality, build up educational networks, do native-language translations and partner with tribal communities to make real changes in their lives.
The main hospital campus has been designed by the architect Laurie Baker to mimic as much as possible the clusters of homes found in surrounding tribal villages.
In 1992 some of the doctors from this nascent hospital attended the Evangelical Medical Fellowship of India annual conference in Orissa. Among the medical students was a young Bethsheba Rajan.
She was deeply moved by meeting Dr. Manoj and his wife Dr. Manju - and the relationship helped open up her horizons to the opportunities and needs of medical mission work in the North of our country.
15 years later Sheba has already been working for a decade, with work done in Uttar Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and now Maharasthra.
What a joy to meet Dr. Manoj again. As he works on understanding Missional Healthcare during a sabbatical from Asha Kiran, our prayer is that he and Manju will continue to be lead by the Spirit into work of lasting value.
An older, and wiser, Dr. Manoj Jacob shares the Asha Kiran vision at Jeevan Sahara Kendra, Thane 14th Sept. 2007