Kath Savona and Davinia Seah
Asha Kiran Society, Odisha
In February 2020, Kath Savona and Davinia Seah participated in their first Project Hamrahi. After attending the Indian Association of Palliative Care annual conference, they visited Asha Kiran Society (AKS), which is about a 5-hour car ride from the nearest major city of Vishakhapatnam, working with Dr Sheba Eicher and Sister Korobi Curtis.
AKS is a non-profit organisation which serves a population of about 50,000 people over about 400 square kms. About 90% of this population is illiterate, with about 50% of the population from scheduled tribes (indigenous people whose status is formally recognised by national legislation), and 20% from scheduled castes.
In response to caring for an elderly lady, Kath writes, ‘I felt an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness in being able to care for this woman. The level of her dependency on others was so great. I had no answers to the many questions that were running through my mind. As we repositioned her in the sun I sat and held her hand and she smiled. There were no words I could use to express my feelings of sadness. As I walked away, I looked back and waved goodbye. We met the local community health worker and expressed our concerns about the lack of support for this lady.’
‘Korobi’s tireless efforts to improve the lives of her patients is remarkable, but it feels like a tiny drop in a big ocean of need. It is hoped that Korobi’s presence in these villages will open up a dialogue between herself, the community health workers and the local people. Despite her visibility in these villages, it can take a very long time to build a trusting relationship amongst the village people.’
‘My experience of palliative care in India was insightful, because it was imperative to see it through a different lens. What I gained from my experience is how palliative care can differ due to the cultural context, how it needs to be delivered to tailor to the needs of the people. One has to be open and flexible to different values in order to demonstrate effective palliative care.’
We sincerely thank Kath and Davinia for their hard work and generosity in joining the Project Hamrahi network.
Their full report can be found here: