Association Ahimsa Fund
The Association Ahimsa Fund
In the Service of Medical Provision for the most Deprived
In June 2017 Dom Jean-Pierre Longeat, President of the AIM, participated in the International Forum of the AHIMSA Association in the town of Nancy in France. This organisation makes links between those concerned with development and health services, and supports action in all parts of the world. More and more, religious communities are recognised as valued partners. A partnership could be formed between the AIM and AHIMSA. We are glad to give information here about the mission of this association.
Ahimsa is the name which inspired Jean-François de Lavison. It is the basis of his project devoted to giving privileged access to health services for the most deprived. It has Hindhu roots in the definition of its way of acting. We will return to the foundational principles of the Ahimsa Fund.
‘Become the change which you wish to see in the world!’
These words of Gandhi are at the heart of the philosophy of the Ahimsa Fund, whose innovating projects aim to develop access to health services and the reduction of inequalities in regions of the world where this is needed.
The genesis of the Ahimsa Fund, an inspiration from Hindhu wisdom
Jean-François de Lavison, the founder of the Fund, was much affected by several stays in India, where he set up a branch of BioMérieux. The name ‘Ahimsa’ is a Sanskrit word suggesting care, non-violence and respect for life. It was an inspiration to Gandhi, for whom ‘poverty is the worst form of violence’. It is often represented by a cow and a lioness feeding side by side, while the calves feed from the lioness and the young lions from the cow.
In fact the world market for health is divided 70% in rich countries and 30% in poor countries, although the latter represent 80% of the world population. Nevertheless, globalisation has created inequalities all over the world, even in the countries considered most developed. The dichotomy between rich and poor countries has far less meaning these days: there are very rich people in poor countries and very poor people in rich countries. The Ahimsa Fund combats poverty wherever it may be.
Poverty is not lived everywhere in the same way. In developing countries the most disadvantaged people tend to come together in communities to share their resources. In developed countries the most disadvantaged are often isolated and in their turn reject society, so that ‘in poor countries people are born poor, live poor and die poor, whereas in rich countries they are not born poor, but become poor and die poor.’
It is often impossible for those most in need to reach the care they need, for those most in need cannot travel the long distances to medical care, and furthermore they mistrust modern medicine. Consequently health is not a priority for such populations. The solution is often to bring healthcare to those in need. This is what is done by such organisations as the Red Cross: rather than the patient going to the carer, the carer comes to the patient.
Four innovating projects in public health
Lifeline Express: a miracle on rails to the four quarters of India
Since 1991 the Lifeline Express has been combing India to care for the most distant populations. Its five blue carriages covered with clouds and rainbows stay in each place for several days or weeks to give basic surgical care: cataracts, deformities linked to polio, club-feet.
Phelophepa: the train of hope to help millions of South Africans
Since it started in 1994, this ‘train of hope’ has been the largest clinic in the world, with almost 24 million patients treated in the South African countryside. As the years go by companion organisations
are developing in the villages: some give priority in bringing the weakest all the way to the train, others provide food and lodging for the medical staff.
Friendship: hospital-boats to combat sickness in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh the organisation Friendship has used a ship to provide
the most deprived and marginalised in the river-zones of the country. These are real floating hospitals, providing services of gynaecology, ophthalmology and paediatrics. There are two operating theatres, one for sterilisation and another for radiology.
Labomobile: the laboratory on wheels which tends epidemics in Guinea
After the train and the ship, here is a mobile hospital circulating in isolated areas, especially coastal areas of Guinea. This is a mobile laboratory intended to detect and if possible remedy the beginnings of such epidemics as cholera and meningitis originating in bacteria.
Mother Teresa wrote, ‘We live in the middle of a sea of poverty. The sea cannot be reduced, but our work is a necessary drop in this ocean.’ The Ahimsah Fund encourages these types of initiative so that all kinds of innovating projects may improve conditions of life for the most neglected people on the planet.
 Cf. http://www.ahimsa-fund.com/
 BioMérieux is a French enterprise which specialises in diagnostic in vitro, a world leader in microbiology, represented in sixty countries through forty-one branches.