Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Oh little town of Chinchpada....

Chinchpada is a village.  6575 inhabitants as of the 2011 census.

I stepped out into darkness.  The train had stopped at 2.15 AM.  I knew that the next stop was Chinchpada station.  But I didn't see a platform next to my train.  I opened both doors and went from side to side.  Outside, darkness.  A vague shape of a platform on either side - but that could be a good's platform - I was supposed to be at Chinchpada station.  My fellow passengers were fast asleep in the cold of a November night in northern Maharashtra.  The red light gleamed in the darkness.  Just as another red light had gleamed when our train had stopped in the countryside 5 minutes earlier.

Get out the mobile phone.  Daniel was waiting for me at the station.  I got through.  "How much longer to the station?" I asked him. "or are we already here?  I don't see anything outside" "You are here" Daniel replied "get out soon."

I did. I scrambled down to the ground and got one bag out.  The other was at the door. As I reached up, the train started to move.  I pulled it out and watched as the train juddered away into nocturnal ink.

The stabbing beams of a torch come toward me.  Sure enough, there was Daniel and a watchman from the hospital.  The welcoming committee had arrived.

We finally got to the 'train station building' - a quaint relic that looked like Jim Corbett would walk out of it and enquire whether his workmen should start unloading the goods cars.

The new station is being built but the electricity was not on - and hence no clue to me that this was my destination.  In fact, I was the only one on the Surat - Bhusaval passenger train to get off at Chinchpada at that ungodly hour.

Daniel and the watchman helped me carry my luggage (why was I carrying so much) on the 10 minute walk to the Chinchpada Christian Hospital, which was hosting the "RAC meetings" our semi-annual business meetings for two regions of the Emmanuel Hospital Association of which our beloved HBM Hospital in Lalitpur is part of.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn to participate in the morning devotions held at open chapel building in the middle of the hospital.

Almost the entire staff of the Hospital were lined up in front - singing with voices of angels.   I have heard my fair share of Hindi Christian hymns - and most of the are the 'make a joyful noise' variety.  With the emphasis on the latter word.  
Dr. Ashita and Dr. Deepak have been leading more than just the singing hospital staff - they have plunged into helping rebuild the small village hospital into something very special.  Chinchpada Christian Hospital - where Deepak has been posted a decade or so earlier as a fresh MBBS doctor - has been struggling for years with low patient loads, debt and decay.   Started by TEAM missionaries 2 generations ago - the hospital has had many dark years...

... but today, you can say that Chinchpada Christian Hospital is a ray of light.   Dr. Deepak (a freshly minted paediatric surgeon from CMC Vellore) and Dr. Ashita (a medicine consultant from the same illustrious college) have poured their lives into the hospital community.  The whole team is energised. We were thrilled to see real signs of renewal - with the decades of crumbling being replaced with rennovated buildings - with most still maintaining the 'cottage hospital' style buildings with their distinctive tiled roofs.

But what is more amazing is the state-of-the-art ICU and the straight-from-the-heart medical care being given.  The fruits of much prayer and much deep-pocket generosity by donors near and far.

Chinchpada Christian Hospital is one of our sister hospitals - and we and 7 other hospitals from the Northern and Central Regions of the Emmanuel Hospital Association gathered for 3 days to share our strategic plans for the next 5 years - and our next years budgets and personnel projections.

Here Dr. Vikram Tirkey from Champa Christian Hospital, is sharing their plans.  To the right of him are Dr. Sunil Gokavi, Dr. Deepak Singh, Dr. Ashok Chacko and our dear Victor Emmanuel.   It was a privilege to share the HBM strategic planning process - and some of what we are hoping to see happen - as well as the figures that our HBM leader Mr. Biju Mathew had worked tirelessly to project for our next year's work. 

We are a 'fellowship for transformation' and I was again struck by how important our fellowship is. The fact of so many amazing folks choosing to stick it out for so many years - like the evergreen Dr. Ashok Chacko who actually started his career of service at Chinchpada and shared some of the experiences of grace during a morning devotion.

More recent vintage are our dear Daniel and Yerusha Kautikkar who are doing a phenomenal job with the palliative care programme.  They have enrolled over 60 cases in the past 3 months - and have already dealt with numerous deaths as these dear ones have been so uncared-for prior to them being met by the Chinchpada Christian Hospital team.  Daniel and Yerusha were with us at JSK before and what a joy to see them taking wing in this tribal dominated part of north-western Maharashtra.

Our EHA Executive Director - Dr. Sunil Gokavi - took the opportunity to remind us why we are here in the first place "We exist for Christ and His Gospel - A Fellowship for Transformation through Caring."

Sunil wants to see us effective - and is passionate about getting us to work in a more focussed and coordinated way.  EHA is now a big beast - 20 hospitals spread out over North India.  45 plus community health and development projects.  Nursing schools.   Tie-ups with government and academia.  Over 2000 staff.   We are blessed to be this far.  We still have a long way to go.

It was entirely appropriate that we could celebrate Deepak and Ashita's 16th wedding anniversary while the whole motley crew of us were there together.  It's a long long way from Bible Club in Mussoorie in the late 80s when Deepak (then at Wynberg) used to join the 'holy gang' from Woodstock.  But what a blessed journey it has been!

As I left the hospital to go up to Delhi (and pick up our dear Asha whom Mum had brought down from Mussoorie) I left with many happy conversations and many big questions buzzing in my mind.

Thank you Chinchpada Christian Hospital for hosting us.  The food - each meal - was cooked by teams of staff (some who came back from being on leave).  The love was real.  We were treated like kings.

A final picture - the humble but functional building that houses the Emmanuel Public School which also operates out of the Chinchpada Christian Hospital.   What an investment in the future!  We are so glad for yet another way that the hospital is shaping lives - and wish that every hospital will have a sister concern like this!

 Onwards.   Upwards.   Soli Deo gloria.


  1. I served in Emmanuel Public school for 4years. My heart goes after school and hospital

  2. Dear Malche,
    Do you have by any chance the history of Chinchpada Christian Hospital.
    When it was started ?
    What was the initial work ?
    who were the missionaries ?

    If you have it please do a short write up and send it to me as early as possible to be included in the Annual Report.
    Thomas Kurian

    Dear Mr. Thomas,

    Thank you for your email!

    I will try to send you a brief write up as requested. I had gathered by interviewing some information by older folks of the churches the medical history of the hospital during my stay but I have misplaced my diary or left in Chinchpada along with my books to a friends house.

    I think medical work started in the year 1940's with Dr. Karl Klokke & his wife Easther (USA) & it was the hospital to begin with. Maybe Mission Station was first until the Klokee's came out. I know Mary Holgorson still alive in USA and may be Easter Klokke so will see. The medical history actually go back to 1918 with two misssionary lady came to start the school as ill-literacy was rampant along with sicness when the first bungalow near the well was build and on the Varandah in the year 1918 there was some inaugural function of the medical work started and about 200 gathered and sang the song "how great thou art...!


    Mr. Y. Malche