Friday, 28 January 2011

Getting ready to leave for India - just two weeks to go!

With less than two weeks to go, the four intrepid travellers are getting ready to leave for India. Right now we are all in different parts of the world - Paul, Pauline and Chris are back in the UK and Charlotte is still in the US. But as we prepare for departure, we thought it would be helpful to have a map of our proposed travels in India, so you'll know where we're posting from when we get there.

Udaipur, city of palaces, lakes and flowers
Starting point is Ahmedabad in Gujarat (bottom tag on the map), where Charlotte will meet the other three when they arrive from the UK ... somewhat jet-lagged and with time clocks out of sync since it will be the middle of the night on the Indian clock, but just before midnight British time. From here, we head north to Udaipur to Disha Hospital, to look at the garden and spend some time exploring the magical lake city, filled with palaces, lakes and flowers.

Then it's northwards to Jodhpur (above), Phalodi and finally Jaiselmer, for the Desert Fair which takes place mid-February. This is a first for all of us and we're hoping to see camels and a lot of colour. Plans for the rest of the trip will be made as we go along, but we're planning to see some interesting places ... so watch this space!

Monday, 10 January 2011

The story of Disha Hospital in Rajasthan ... so far!

We're really pleased that so many of you have signed up to follow our progress in the last 10 days - thank you for all your wonderful messages and support! But many of you have also asked for more information ... and as I'm not computer literate enough to upload the brochure we use, I've used the text and images here, so you can read more about how this project started  - Disha Hospital and The Raven Charitable Trust.

  • To provide free medical care in rural Rajasthan where there is currently none.
  • To implement health screening and medical regimes to underpin our philosophy: “Prevention is better than cure”.
  • To raise basic awareness of the value of health care in terms of longevity, well-being and security and empower the local people of Rajasthan to make their own health choices.
  • To educate the village people of Rajasthan about the importance of nutrition and diet in relation to health matters.
  • To promote the status of women’s and children’s health care within the community.
  • To work with specialist doctors on prevention and treatment of childhood cancers.
  • To provide regular children’s clinics and implement vaccination programmes in local communities.
  • To provide an understanding of the importance of good health for existing and future generations.


21 Fatehpura, Udaipur 313001 Rajasthan, India tel: +91 982 814 2100
Contact: Dr Deepak Babel
Mrs Charlotte Raven
Registered Charity No.

The measure of a countrys greatness
  should be based on how well it cares
  for its vulnerable populations.” 
Mahatma Gandhi

About The Raven Charitable Trust...

The Raven Charitable Trust (RCT) is a non- government, not-for-profit organisation with a mission to provide free medical care and a long-term Health Literacy programme to the village people of Bari District outside Udaipur in Rajasthan, India.
The Trust and Charity (34/Dev/Udr/2009) were established in 2009, and have constructed a 4,000 square foot hospital at Lio ka Guda, Udaipur, which is now completed. 
The hospital – called Disha - was inaugurated on 31st October 2010 and will provide basic medical care, including treatment of minor illnesses and accidents on site. It will be staffed by fully qualified medical practitioners and in cases where patients need ongoing medical treatment and support they will be referred and transferred to Udaipur.
This story began in 2008 when Charlotte Raven, an Englishwoman who had previously worked in India, returned with her husband, as a tourist. He became seriously ill in Udaipur and was treated by Dr Deepak Babel. Illness is never a pleasant experience, but in this case it brought together two people with a shared vision and fundamental belief that:

“All people have a basic right to medical care”

Dr Babel and his family, who own and run Lake City Hospital, Udaipur promised to collaborate on the hospital project if Mrs Raven would raise funds for construction. And this is how Disha began. In March 2009 the Raven Charitable Trust (RCT) was formed and the rest has become history - Disha is now officially open and ready to serve the local community.
At Disha we aim to provide an excellent standard of primary medical care, without charging patients for consultations. Dr Deepak Babel and his father, Dr Chandra Babel, will operate regular walk-in clinics, with the support of technicians and specialists.There is a laboratory on site for pathology tests and in cases where patients require surgery, there is a fully-equipped operating theatre at Lake City Hospital in Udaipur.
However, providing medical care is only the start of RCT’s work. The long term success of the project lies in our ability to educate the rural people of Rajasthan about the value of healthcare at the most basic level, so they will be sufficiently motivated to make decisions for themselves.
RCT will therefore be working in conjunction with other NGOs and we have incorporated a conference/teaching room and accommodation for visiting doctors at the hospital, so RCT can implement its Health Literacy programme and offer on-site training in conjunction with local providers.
Our Health Literacy programme will ensure that medical experts work alongside existing local organisations and education providers, to ensure that the basic healthcare of rural communities are met. by pooling their knowledge.
We are optimistic that RCT can make a real change to the way in which healthcare is delivered and understood in rural Rajasthan and we hope you will help us.

A wonderful Rajasthani face - this woman needed a radical hysterectomy, but was unable to afford it - cost including surgery and all aftercare was just £150 (US $225) - RCT made it possible!
  • India is already the world’s largest parliamentary democracy, yet there is currently no state provision of healthcare in Rajasthan, where most income in rural communities is derived from agriculture, which is vital to the Indian economy.
  • The Disha project is intended to be a working model for future healthcare projects in Rajasthan and will be unique in that it will not only provide medical care in rural areas where there is currently little or none, but will also be committed to setting up an innovative and accessible Health Literacy programme, aimed at improving not just the lives of the patients it treats, but also their families and their communities.
  • The Raven Charitable Trust will provide basic healthcare in the community which will enable the Foundation to assess the medical needs of the people and establish what their longer term needs are in terms of health provision.