-By Rose Gordon, Hospice Spiritual Care Counselor & Volunteer Coordinator.
I was delighted to volunteer at Ganga Prem Hospice (GPH) in November and December 2017 and engage in providing the services they offer to patients in the cities of Rishikesh, Deradhun and Haridwar. In Northern India.
Ganga Prem is an inter-faith hospice that holds a free clinic every month, attended by up to 100 people who receive diagnosis, medications, wound care, counseling and other services they are unable to get elsewhere. Many, if not most, of the people are found to have cancer. If their condition calls for it they are, with their agreement, driven to the GPH in-patient hospice facility, located in the countryside.
It’s about a 45 minute drive from the main marketplace in Rishikesh to the hospice, along a busy highway and then on a dirt road through the jungle, which reportedly has both tigers and elephants, though I saw only large deer. Once through the jungle, the dirt road opens to an area of lush green fields, planted with grain, leafy green vegetables and squash. On both sides of the road are the simple homes of the local residents. Flat roofs hold the most recent harvest, left there to dry in the sun. Herbs and other vegetables hang from the porches. There are many thatched roof buildings for livestock and just behind the hospice is a large grove of guava trees, tended by women and children whose time is spent chasing birds away from the ripening fruit.
The three storied hospice itself was entirely built by donations. Each patient’s room has its own bathroom and small balcony and the area around the hospice is filling with flowers, shrubs and a vegetable garden. Large balconies circle the hospice, so that patients can sit in the fresh air and sunlight. The […]