Project Rural India Social and Health Improvement (RISHI; www.projectrishi.org), founded in March 2005, is a student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based at the University of California, Los Angeles. Our mission is to provide for the basic health care and infrastructure needs of Indian villages.
We have started with Vadamanappakkam, a village in South India and have addressed several issues there. First, we built a concrete enclosure for a playground to protect children from wild animals and trespassers. Having established rapport and key contacts in the village, we then began focusing on health care issues. To address the fact that the villagers had only minimal access to primary and emergency care, we first provided logistical and monetary assistance for the establishment of a mobile clinic in the heart of the village, which resulted in hundreds of patients being seen free of charge every month. In August 2007, eleven students traveled to Vadamanappakkam to help run a primary care clinic and to teach school children about various diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, diabetes, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Now, having raised enough money, we have started building a permanent clinic in the village.
Aware of the fact that we can directly serve our target population by going to India only once or twice a year, we have also been focusing on helping our local communities in Los Angeles, whether it is by serving food to veterans during the holidays or launching a local mobile clinic. Our future goals in Vadamanappakkam include providing for water purification and sewer systems as well as an ambulance service. On a larger level, we will leverage our work in Vadamanappakkam and use it as a launch pad for helping to address similar issues in villages elsewhere.