REPORT OF MATHISEN/McHANS DENTAL/PASTORAL TO INDIA
An edited written interview with Dr. Curt Mathisen after their return from India
1. When did you go and return? We left Portland on March 7th and returned on Friday March24th.
2. Who went with you? We travelled just the two of us together; but our pastor and his wife (theMcHans) and their two daughters, Cara and Cami, met us in Bangalore on the10th from which we travelled about 4 hours south to Kollegal our home base for the project.
3. How much time did you spend at the Deaf school at Kamagere? Curt set up his dental clinic in a Catholic hospital room about two blocks from the deaf school, as the facilities in the school would have been inadequate. ...The deaf children were examined and treated during the first 2 and a half days of our 5 day clinic. They were very cute and Curt tried to interact with them (signing, etc.) the best he could. They were very cooperative. At the end of the clinic curt gave each of the deaf children (all 56 of them) their own toothbrush. Some of them had never had their own. They were appreciative and signed '' thank-you" to him in ASL (Elaina had taught them that!) many local villagers were also treated, most of whom had never been to a dentist before. Nearly 200 people were treated, in all, at the clinic. Elaina taught Vacation Bible School classes for eight days (in the mornings) to the deaf children. Then taught the same classes to hearing children in the afternoons, also in Kamagere who were in the SDA hearing school there. So she was busy!! She loved working with all the children. Most of the children at all the SDA schools in the area come from Hindu homes, but were very excited to hear the Bible stories and sings songs about Jesus. We found that some of the "deaf children" were really hard of hearing. We brought some of Jeffrey's old hearing aids that were no longer being used, but are functional, to give to the deaf children that could benefit from them. A group of ENT doctors and audiologists [from Australia] are scheduled to visit the school in October, and will hopefully be able to make ear molds and do ear exams for the students.
4. What were your impressions of the school, its teachers, students and general situation? Very basic, primitive facilities--two larger rooms and maybe 3 smaller rooms. Four teachers, two of whom were Adventist. Sign language needs to be expanded a lot. ...
5. How did the meetings go in Kollegal? Very well. Our pastor led out in the adult meetings for 16 nights. He had video projection which captured the attention of the people. Average attendance was about 250/night. The last Sabbath their was 53 people who were baptized in the local river about 20 minutes away. The local members were very happy we helped with these meetings. This was the most new members they had had for a series of meeting in many years. Also, in the evenings, Elaina again held a third vacation Bible school for the children at the same time the adult meetings were happening. Local people, of course, helped all along the way and all of the members of our team pitched in to make things go smoothly. In all of her meetings, she also used a video projector which was very special for the kids. Also felts and crafts were used. She had between 200 and 300 children each evening in Kollegal!!
6. Any unsual or difficult experiences of human interest? Just experiencing the different culture in India was amazing. They live on the bare essentials, but seem for the most part quite happy. Quite a few beggars were in most places we visited; but also many of the people were very industrious and tried to keep busy, even if it was only very simple, menial tasks. We did get to do some sight seeing. Visited a wildlife park and rode on an elephant!! Visited a palace and a Hindu temple. Also, one of the local ... members was one of the managers of a silk factory; and he gave us a tour that was fascinating. Amazing to see how they take the silk thread from the cocoon of the silk worm; and then make it into cloth. ... One of the most interesting things in India was the narrow, bumpy Indian roadways which are shared by pedestrians, cyclists, oxcarts on their way to market and horn-blaring cars, scooters and buses all travelling as fast as they dared. It was truly amazing that more accidents did not happen on these crowded highways. And most of their cars don't have seat belts!
7. What do you think of the future of the school? Plans are for a new school building to built that will be a little larger than the rented one they are now in. Still will be a very basic building. But plans seem pretty strong to keep it going and perhaps expanding. Donations would always be very welcome through "helping hand welfare society (formerly asian aid).