Written by Jason Worley, a visiting undergraduate student from Brigham Young University, and Kylie Worley, a visiting business professional from Utah
The two months we have spent at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project, Jamkhed have been an eye-opening experience that we will never forget. There truly is no way for us to explain or share the impact it has had on our perspectives and attitudes regarding healthcare and social medicine. Anyone who wants to really understand the principles of empowerment, equity, sacrifice, and dedication should come and see CRHP for themselves. It is a place with a power all its own.
The most striking aspect of CRHP is the amazing dedication of its staff. They are an interesting blend of talented individuals who range from highly educated with multiple graduate degrees to illiterate with no education at all. Some of them grew up in poverty; some did not. Some have been with CRHP for decades; some have only recently joined. However, despite all their differences, they truly are a family in the best sense of the word. They treat each other as equals and respect the contribution that each member of the team has to make. This is a family that welcomes newcomers and is eager to share their meals, time, and knowledge with others. We have sat for weeks with social workers, Village Health Workers, students, members of the Mobile Health Team, health educators, cooks, physicians, and many others. Each person we met has a story, and each is going through a development process by which they integrate the principles of empowerment and equity into their lives and the lives of others.
The other day, Kylie and I discussed the main points we absorbed from watching this team work together. We decided on the following three themes:
- Empowerment goes far beyond education or financial stability. Empowerment goes right to the root of who people are. It is the process that involves showing people their own value by giving them the tools and autonomy to choose the path that their lives will take.
- Public health efforts that take a top-down approach will not induce lasting change as efficiently as efforts that are centered around community-led participation and efforts. CRHP works with communities and not on communities.
- We have so much to learn from the poor and “uneducated.” So often we rely on formal education to define the ability of others to transmit information, but what we often forget is that regardless of formal education, so many people are enriched via life experiences. These life experiences allow them to teach others in an unparalleled, humble, relatable, and enlightening way. It is a mistake to assume that a person cannot be trained to contribute to technical roles solely because they lack formal education. CRHP staff serve as a team of individuals that represent that. With the encouragement and the opportunity, they have become social workers, midwives, teachers, health educators, artificial limbs technicians, and community leaders.
Again, we hope that anyone who truly wants to see these principles in action would consider visiting the CRHP campus. While I am moving on to a career in social medicine, and Kylie is moving on to a career in business management, this experience has been a paradigm-shifting experience for both of us. We hope that all who are interested in social change and development will look into and explore the principles of the Jamkhed Model, which apply in any field and endeavor that seeks to build people up. This is an immersive program that lets you observe successful empowerment and community building firsthand. CRHP is a place that will teach you far more than you are able to offer to it.
We will be forever grateful that such a place exists to watch out for the least among us.
Jason & Kylie