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15

Jun

2011

Health Clinic Visit

Though Community Friends is only a 40 acre district amongst some 300 acres, the impact of Community Friends affects a great deal more. The health clinic, which deals with minor problems (infected cuts, providing vaccines etc.), was established by Community Friends in 2007. The clinic is housed in the original tea estate manager’s colonial-style cottage.

Tikira, age 99, I have discovered, is not the oldest of the residents of Waitalawa. Jeewa and Mutteliagiani introduced me to a 106 year old woman! As soon as we entered she sat up promptly from her rather uncomfortable straw bed to say hello. Jeewa helps me to ask her whether she has any ailments at her ripe age, ‘it is only my eyes that trouble me’ she says, ‘I cannot see as well as I would like but everything else is fine’. I can see why she is doing so very well. She has an absolutely adorable Tamil family who welcome me very sweetly as I step into their home. We pose for a quick snap before they bid me adieu, ‘watalangi’ they say, ‘see you again’. Truly wonderful people.

It later emerges that she is not the oldest one in the village of Waitalawa. Mutteligiani tells Jeewa and me that there is a 110 year old down in the lower part of the village. Imagine that, almost born in the 1800s before the invention of planes let alone space travel! Unfortunately I am unable to meet this incredible lady but Jeewa tells me the secret to a long life here is the diet, the altitude and the hard work. I can believe him. Mutteliagiani tells me that he survives each day on just one rotti and one litre of water per day whilst picking the tea on the Community Friends land.

Dr. Ajith (right in photo), a volunteer doctor with Community Friends, led the effort to establish the clinic and then transitioned the day to day operations to Marudamuththu Rajandran (left in photo), who is now the EMO (Estate Medical Officer). Today, Marudamuththu attends to a wide variety of patient needs. Having access to local health care is a great gift for these people. Before Community Friends established the clinic, the nearest medical care was at the general hospital in Kandy city, a long commute by foot and bus which many cannot afford. Marudamuththu is a fantastic guy who allowed Jeewa and me to stay at the clinic.

John Ainger
Community Friends’ Intern