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Healing touch from Belgium

Darbhanga, July 8: The residents of this northern Bihar town are in for a surprise these days to watch a group of youths from some distant land singing and dancing their way in some unheard language and renovating a tuberculosis treatment centre.

Every morning, the youths who have come from Belgium gather at Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital, put on their gloves and join hands with local labourers to repair the Tuberculosis Demonstration Centre (TBDC). The visitors — representatives of Belgium-based non-government organisation Damien Foundation India Trust — reached the town, about 165km northeast of the state capital, on July 4 and embarked on their mission from the very next day.

Except Maria, 62, the treasurer of the foundation that has its India office in Chennai, all the volunteers are students either in their homeland or some other European countries. The youths are not char-ging a penny for the labour.

“It’s a unique experience for us to work in this part of India. The residents of Darbhanga are friendly and extend us all cooperation to us,” said Maria, who has been to India several times since 1998.

“For three weeks, we will be in Darbhanga to assist the local labourers finishing the repair work of TBDC. We have kept the last seven days to visit some tourist destinations. We also have a plan to go to neighbouring Madhubani district,” she said, adding that the team would be in India till July 26.

Lode Eymkel, a first year law student at Maastricht University of Holland, said, “Our study curriculum does not require first-hand working experience. But we want to learn what it means to be engaged in manual labour. This will be a learning experience.”

He added, “The atmosphere and culture of India are different from the countries in western Europe. The temperature in our country varies between 15ºC and 22ºC. But here life is difficult with the temperature hovering around the 35ºC-mark. The only challenge we face is the spicy Indian food.”

District tuberculosis officer Dr K.K. Mishra told The Telegraph: “The most important thing in them is their working style — they work in complete coordination with one another.”


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