As a Practice Nurse working within a GP Practice from Weybridge in Surrey, Sue Barnes was very excited about spending a couple of weeks in Udaipur, Northern Rajasthan, India so she could see how health programmes work there. She collected lots of baby/children clothes to bring out as well as pencils, sharpeners, educational resources and donations from the GP Practice and friends to be spent on what she thought was most important.
Staying with this well established Social Enterprise, which depends on volunteer help to run its programmes, Sue visited both a village school and a boys orphanage several times and gave fun talks on the importance of washing your hands and cleaning your teeth. She had brought with her some laminated sheets of pictures that she had found on the internet showing Indian children which showed the importance of not contaminating the water supply, not wasting water (very important in this dry landscape) and how to wash your hands after going to the toilet, before preparing food, after playing outside, after school and before meals.
You may think that this seems a bit silly but it was very apparent that many of the children did not know how to wash their hands properly and dry them after without wiping them on their clothes which sometimes were in poor condition. Sue also checked the length of their nails and cut those that were too long explaining the importance of keeping the nails clean. The boys at the orphanage in particular loved having this “motherly” attention and were delighted that interest was shown in their various warts, spots, damaged nails, etc!
Many of the children both at school and at the orphanage did not possess a toothbrush nor toothpaste and did not know how to clean their teeth. Sue gave a demonstration on how to clean your teeth properly in a circular motion reaching all their teeth and cleaning their gums, helped by Pankaj who helped with the translating. We took a few new toothbrushes with us and gave these out and it was very evident that the children were delighted to be given a new toothbrush and proudly kept the packaging to keep it in. The children know many English words and phrases thanks to the volunteers on the Teaching Programme at the school and the boys orphanage and are very keen to engage you in their limited English conversation.
Sue used the donated money given to her to buy new toothbrushes and toothpaste for all the children from the school and from the boys orphanage. In accordance with good practice, these were given to the teachers and orphanage carers to be distributed as it is important that volunteers are not seen to be giving things directly to the children as they do not want the children to associate the volunteers with gifts. Also the donation would cover providing new underwear for the orphanage boys who only received 1-2 new sets a year and some new toys for the under 3 year olds in the Day Care Centre.
If you are interested in knowing more about volunteering in India on the health promotion placement or teaching primary school children combined with providing after school activities in the boys orphanage, or helping with building renovation every July/August, then drop us an email with any questions to:
or give us a ring on 07833 208 158 with any questions you have. Placements are for 2 -12 weeks. You can check out the India placements on our website: