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Saturday April 17th

Less than a year after its start, UNC group is working toward change in India

<p>UNC's chapter of the Association for India’s Development aims to educate students and charitable donors about health care accessibility issues in Central India.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC's chapter of the Association for India’s Development aims to educate students and charitable donors about health care accessibility issues in Central India. 

By connecting donors with charities that support underprivileged communities in India, UNC's chapter of the Association for India’s Development hopes to raise awareness for key issues like health care, education access and women's rights. 

Since its establishment in June 2020, UNC AID has worked to impact issues facing Indian communities through projects — like its recent speaker event with Jan Swasthya Sahyog. 

JSS is a Central India-based organization that aims to provide health care services in rural and tribal regions of Central India. It specializes in community health programs like pediatric care, emergency services and medicine. 

The event on March 7 hosted doctors working with JSS to speak about their work over Zoom. 

UNC AID’s president, Iniya Muthukumaren, said the doctors discussed the logistics of providing health care to impoverished communities, and why the issue is important to both UNC AID and JSS. 

“At our speaker event, there were three doctors who have worked with this kind of low-cost effective health care,” she said. “They spoke about the challenges that people living in these rural areas face and how health care technology had to be adapted to be affordable, but also effective, for the specific problems faced by these villages.”

Ultimately, the event drew in over 75 participants ranging from students, community members and donors. UNC AID was able to raise $4,300 to fund JSS in its mission to bring health care to marginalized communities. 

Muthukumaren said the chapter also focuses on education access and women's rights. 

“Our main goal is to provide sustainable and equitable development to rural India, and the main way we do that is by supporting local charitable projects,” Sneha Jaikumar, one of UNC AID’s co-directors of donor relations, said. “The goal, I would say, is to bring together project partners and connect nonprofit organizations with donors.”

Bani Bajaj, one of UNC AID’s co-vice presidents, said the work that JSS does is especially relevant to the chapter's mission because health care is often inaccessible for these poor communities.

“There’s a lot of barriers for communities in terms of access to health care, whether it be that there’s not a hospital nearby or that people don’t have adequate funds to go or stay in hospitals,” Bajaj said.

Moving forward, the members of UNC AID will continue to educate themselves and others on methods of promoting development in India. Muthukumaren said she hopes to continue supporting JSS and gain a broader understanding of health care disparities in India.

“Education is a really big component of our chapter," she said. "We don’t ever want to make it seem like we completely understand all of these complex issues. We just want to get as close to them as possible and make a continued effort.”

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