Tong-Len Charitable Trust - Compassion in Action: charity based in dharamsala supporting displaced communities in Himachal Pradesh, India. Compassion in Action
Health Programmes - see the video here

Living conditions hazardous to health are the norm for the displaced communities. Most settlements lack clean water, and any form of sanitation. Where water is available, a lack of understanding of health and hygiene issues leads many people to use dirty river water rather than undertake the walk to a more distant well. Soap and toothbrushes are inaffordable luxuries. There are no facilities for waste disposal, and the resultant garbage attracts stray dogs and vermin. During the winter months, temperatures can drop below zero, and in the summer heavy monsoon rains and flooding exacerbate the situation. The basic shelter comprising make-shift tents of polythene draped over flimsy wooden supports is unable to withstand these extreme climatic conditions.

Disease is rife in the settlements. Skin diseases and gastro-intestinal infections and infestations are endemic. Respiratory conditions, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency disorders, and blood-borne diseases are widespread. Polio, leprosy, and tuberculosis are not yet eradicated. Cuts, bites, burns and other such injuries are common. Relatively minor injuries frequently become infected, and under these conditions may be life threatening or result in permanent disability and disfigurement.

Young children and infants are most at risk. Many babies are still born or die in the first few weeks of life. Often they are born prematurely. There is no ante-natal or post-natal care. Women give birth in the squalid conditions of the camp, supported only by their families. Many of these mothers are in their teens and have received no education or information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Indian government provides free initial medical consultations in their hospitals but medical tests and treatment are expensive. The average cost of a simple prescription is approximately £1, way beyond the means of impoverished people. People often die as a consequence of being unable to afford essential treatment and surgery. Dental treatment is also expensive, and therefore not accessible.


Mobile Health Clinic

In 2008, a partnership was developed between the Noon Rotary Club in Greenville, NC, the Rotary Club of Dharamsala, India, and Rotary International. A Rotary Matching Grant permitted Tong-Len to purchase a vehicle for a mobile clinic and provide for operating expenses and staff salaries for a year. As a consequence, Tong-Len is now able to offer service to seven slums throughout the region, providing critically needed medical services to 3000 people.

Three types of clinics are provided in each slum on a rotating schedule:

  • Immunization Clinic: Extensive educational efforts are needed to overcome cultural resistance to immunizations, but these simple efforts help to eliminate the most easily prevented causes of death among the very young.
  • Under-Five Clinic: Almost 100% of the small children in the slums suffer from malnutrition and a failure to thrive.
  • General Clinic: Starting out a simple wound care clinic, the general clinic has expanded to provide general care to all ages, including pre-natal care, wound care, and chronic care.

More than three dozen displaced communities with a combined population of over 30,000 people have been identified throughout the region, so there is a desperate need to expand medical services to a broader population.

Vaccination of small child
Child with broken arm
Mother and child