More than a hospital

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Head inside Christian Medical College and experience its stories of faith, hope and healing

A unique and inspirational documentary series, Our Stories, Our CMC captures the amazing work undertaken every day at Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore (South India).

Produced and directed by Tim Nicholls and his team at Currawong Productions (Australia), this documentary series is a rare insight into the heart of one of India’s premier healthcare institutions and its inspiring stories of faith, hope and healing.

Generously supported and financed by Friends of Vellore, Australian Chapter (FOVA), this documentary showcases the extensive medical and social work completed by CMC to alleviate suffering and improve the standards of health for the common man of India.

CMC stands as a beacon of hope to the poor and downtrodden of the nation in an era where healthcare has become less of a service and more of a corporate business.

 

This is not the first time that Tim Nicholls is documenting the work carried out at CMC and its distinctive contributions to India’s healthcare system. The opportunity to create his first documentary on the work of CMC, Home of a Healing God, arose out of a profound personal experience.

While speaking to Indian Link, he reminisces about a childhood growing up as the son of a Uniting Church Minister and the numerous encounters he had with medical missionaries and also doctors from CMC who would come to Australia for work or study.

When Tim’s mother passed away, his father was heartbroken and Dr George Chandy (past Director of CMC and a close personal friend) encouraged him to join CMC for a short while as a chaplain.

With a decision to return back to Australia within six months, Tim’s father made his journey to CMC at the age of 75.

But the journey didn’t end within six months; it went on for eight years. It was during the course of Tim’s visits that Home of a Healing God was made (2010).

“When the present Director of CMC, Dr Sunil Chandy approached me with the idea of a second documentary series,” Tim says, “I didn’t even need to think about it.”

Tim was backed by his world class team comprising Peter Beeh (a cameraman and one of the world’s leading aerial cinematographers – he’s currently working on Pirates of the Caribbean); Mike Bakaloff (one of Australia’s leading sound recordists), Arizona Nicholls (production assistant); Thabo Nel (post production supervisor); and Hugh Skeil (on ground producer, CMC development office).

The experience has been a profound and emotional one for Tim and his production crew.

“While shooting for the first documentary, we visited a young man who was dying of cancer,” Tim recalls. “I had never seen my cameraman, Peter Beeh, crying before, but as he filmed tears just kept rolling down his face.”

There have been positive emotional highs too, like watching the expression on a couple’s face when they first laid eyes on their new twins.

Or while hearing the inspiring story of Kumaresan, a sports enthusiast from a poor background who became paralysed after a spinal cord injury.

CMC’s extensive rehabilitation program has helped this young man accept his disabilities and with the training and support of a world class medical team behind him, Kumaresan today dreams of winning a gold medal for India in the Paralympics.

 

“What I take home from my four visits to CMC is that it is a truly unique and special place with a spirit that I have never experienced anywhere else in the world. The college’s motto sums it up perfectly – ‘Not to be ministered unto but to minister.’”

Apart from the free and low cost medical treatment that the hospital provides to the thousands of poor and sick that walk through the gates every day, there are so many projects that are carried out by CMC to give back to society.

Whether it is an in-house recycling plant – which not only provides employment to many women but is also a sustainable solution, a solar water heating unit, or the work of Dr Cherry Kang and her team in developing a rotavirus vaccine from research to development by a core Indian team, the stories are many and inspiring.

This documentary also outlines Dr Sunil Chandy’s (Director of CMC) vision for the future.

“We believe that everything we do, whether it is healthcare, patient care, service or research, it is rooted in the values that the Christian faith teaches us.”

Just like every other great institution, however, the challenges faced by CMC are many. There is a vision for a new hospital on the horizon to meet the healthcare needs of a modern India, be it the emerging trend of lifestyle diseases or the need for a world class trauma centre.

Friends of Vellore, Australian Chapter does a commendable job in raising money for the cause of the needy.

It also promotes visitors going to CMC as elective students, volunteers and so on, and also provides opportunity for the medical staff of CMC to come to Australia and work or study in the local hospitals here.

The corridors of CMC can indeed be a life-changing experience. Just like Tim, I too share a personal bond with this institution having spent four years of my life there as a student.

This is where I learnt the true meaning of humanity, compassion, faith and the realisation that healing has to be physical, spiritual, psychological and social; only then is it complete!

If you would like to have a copy of this documentary, be a part of CMC’s story or make a contribution, visit www.cmcvellore.ac.in or contact Australian Friends of Vellore (australianfov.net.au). Both the documentaries are also available to view for free on YouTube.