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Walmer Kent CT14 7SH.

The ROI became a recognised UK
charity on 2nd September 2004
and its number is 1105706.
Reflexology Outreach International

ROI Explorer to India Report

I went to Bodhgaya, Bihar in Feb 2004 to set up a ROI project similar to what we had achieved in Uganda. My point of contact was Pramod Kumar Yadav, an acupressure and naturopath therapist, who I had met in Gujerat seven years ago. He has set up his own clinic, the John Buddha Family Clinic, where he treats local people for a very small fee, (5 rupees about 4 pence). He has also trained helpers in reflexology and acupressure and runs outreach clinics in neighbouring villages. His funding comes from local donors, government initiatives and funds raised in England by John Parham (ROI member).

Pramod was very pleased to see me and share our news. I explained that I wanted to get in contact with local charity health organizations to find some trainees, and explore training venues and accommodation for our future team. My criteria for students was that they should have a good enough grasp of English to understand our teaching package and that they should use their new skills to do charity work.
I said that the ROI was not in a position to provide funding but that what we offered was training and all the benefits that could bring.

It soon became evident that I would have trouble in finding students whose knowledge of English was good enough. Bihar is the poorest state in India and English is not taught in all schools .Pramod organised one meeting with some medical students studying pathology. However I needed a translator to explain what I wanted to do and although the group of 30 were very interested I felt that only two of them would use it for charity work . However while I was there I was photographed with the students for a newspaper report, so the ROI is in the local press!!

I visited a Buddhist organization called the Root Institute who amongst other things run Polio and outreach health clinics. As well as physiotherapy and allopathic medicine they also offer homeopathy and acupressure. Pramod used to work there and I felt it would be a useful point of contact as there are Western Volunteers working there. It could also be a good place to stay. On my last day I met Dr Bihari, a homeopathic doctor who also teaches at the Homeopathic Hospital as well as working at Root twice a week. I showed him our teaching package and he thought that many of his students who had a good English based medical background would be interested in our project.

I was also told about a group of Catholic sisters working with the very poor who might be interested. Pramod said he would contact them. I met a lot of people while I was there many of whom were involved in social work and who expressed great interest in the ROI.

Unlike Uganda which had organisations like TASO and Action Aid, there seemed to be no major charity work going on. However this is something I can pursue from England now I have an understanding of the place. Similarly HIV is not a major problem in the area. Pramod said conditions such as polio, sciatica, STDs, iron deficiency, infertility, back pain were the main problems.

By the end of my eight days I did feel that it would be possible to set up a project there but that we have to search for and choose our students carefully. Pramod is now very clear about my expectations and I have made a lot of useful contacts. Fortunately too John is going there in October and is keen to follow up my leads and do some further research. So things look possible and I have a strong feeling that I will be returning next year with a small group.

Further thoughts
• We need a collective email contact no. for ROI
• Need a website, so many people wanted more information.
• Need an updated leaflet.
• Consider asking for small donation for training which we return when student has completed course to ensure commitment.
• ROI trainers would benefit from knowing a little Hindi on this project.
• Give students a basic English exam to ensure that their understanding of English is good enough.

Compromise on our expectations of students in that they may use their training to make a few rupees so long as they also do some charity work. (In Bihar most people need to make a living out of their work as life is so hard and most people are poor).
I feel that one of the benefits of setting up a project in Bodhgaya is Pramod himself. Although we?ve clarified the differences between the ROI and his clinic we do partly share the same aim - that needy people should benefit from reflexology. Pramod has happily agreed to come on our training programme to possibly extend his own knowledge, he is an excellent therapist already. He will most probably become an ROI trainer as he is training people already.

When you believe things are possible anything can happen.

Marilyn Williams


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