WASHINGTON (TIP): The Hindu America Foundation (HAF) in partnership with the Sindhi Alliance, recently provide critical medical services to Pakistani Hindu refugees living in makeshift settlements and camps in Jodhpur, India. HAF raised $17,600, which is being disbursed as an ongoing grant to the Universal Just Action Society (UJAS), the primary non-governmental organization working with Pakistani Hindu refugees in Jodhpur.
So far, $8,533 has been used to help the refugees through the following initiatives:
- Engaged with government stakeholders and assisted 900 refugees complete registration for migrant health cards to facilitate admission into health facilities that provide services beyond the scope of the health clinic
- Established and staffed a health clinic in Jodhpur; hosted several medical camps in settlements; and provided medical consultations, medicinal support, and vaccinations
- Held hygiene awareness and health education seminars and distributed health/hygiene education materials
- Created community health and hygiene committees in three refugee settlements to empower refugees to take initiatives to improve community health
The refugees suffer from a wide range of physical and mental health conditions, such as situational depression, anxiety, psychosomatic disorders, high incidence of respiratory disease, hypertension, malnutrition and lifestyle disorders, and infectious diseases. Women, children, and elderly refugees, in particular, remain vulnerable to various health risks and face psycho-social trauma from their experience of suffering religious persecution and fleeing their homes. Many of the refugees avoid going to healthcare facilities due to their illiteracy and lack of health awareness, as well as an absence of civil and legal documents required to access basic facilities. They also fear harassment if they disclose that they are Pakistani nationals.
Ms. Kaalu, a 67-year old woman that fled Pakistan and is now living in a refugee settlement in Aaganwa village in Jodhpur, for instance, is one of many refugees that has received assistance through this project.
Ms. Kaalu and her family, including her husband, son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and granddaughter, are struggling to survive economically and are dealing with several health issues. She had been experiencing chest pain for at least a month, but due to a lack of health education and awareness and an inability to access a medical facility, she was unable to receive adequate care for her condition. She indicated that she avoided going to government hospitals out of fear that she would be turned away as a refugee without proper identity documents and because of her poor family economic conditions.
When UJAS organized a health camp at her settlement, she was identified as a priority patient in critical health condition and was seen by a first aid doctor and the UJAS team helped facilitate her access to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Jodhpur. Ms. Kaalu is now hopeful that she will able to receive proper treatment to alleviate her critical health conditions and live a happy and healthy life again.