The first Project Kolkata trip proper started with health screenings and health education talks
By Foo Tze Siang, Adrian, Class of 2023
Human trafficking is a persistent national problem in India. According to a National Anti-Trafficking Committee report, Kolkata has consistently topped the list of states with the highest number of human trafficking cases. Most of the victims are women and children, transported through the state's borders of Nepal and Bangladesh, to be recruited into the sex trade. This has culminated in Kolkata being identified as the world's worst human trafficking zone.
It is this demographic that Project Kolkata is interested in helping. The women face stigmatisation, psychological trauma, loss of dignity from working in the sex industry, and a heightened risk of HIV/AIDS. Their children lack proper nutrition, education, and in general, a safe environment to grow up in.
In December 2019, Project Kolkata embarked on our first service trip. We partnered with three NGOs – New Light India, Tollygunge Women In Need and TouchNature to conduct a total of four health screenings and five health education talks.
Our health screenings included modalities for height & weight (BMI measurement), blood pressure, blood glucose, vision tests, urinalysis and a simple history-taking by our Year 3s. Any patients found with chronic conditions were then referred to the NGOs' doctor for follow-up treatment.
Taking blood pressure at New Light Main Shelter
Our health education talks were targeted to the different groups. For instance, we covered the topics of HIV/AIDS and contraceptive usage for the women; hand-and-oral hygiene for the children; and smoking and alcohol abuse for the general adult. We designed infographics for the NGOs and distributed pamphlets to the participants.
Teaching the women about menstrual health
This trip has certainly been an eye-opening and meaningful experience for the 12 of us. We had to manage unexpected circumstances such as a blackout during our health screening and health education talk. Our exposure to the underserved communities also made us realise that there is a lot more we can do, besides healthcare services and we are excited to return again with bigger and better plans!
Our visit to Howrah Bridge