John Bishop Memorial Hospital in Anantnag, Kashmir is more than 100 years old. It is a Christian institution providing care to over 100 expecting mothers and families a day. It delivers between 25 and 50 babies a day. It exists to serve the poor people of Kashmir, provide help for humanity, and train nurses. Anantnag is in the middle of the fight in Kashmir. It is kind of a war-zone, and it is always in the news. The area used to be called “Islamabad,” which means a place where Islam flourishes, and the name Anantnag is a combination of two Sanskrit words Anant and Nag, which mean “a land of many springs.” Some people also translate it as “a land of snakes.” I prefer the lands of many springs. We are trusting the Lord for this place to be a spring of “Living Water” to a very dry Muslim area of India.
The history of the hospital predates its establishment in its current location, where it was rebuilt in 1902. In 1888 Mrs. Isabella Bird, the widow of Dr. John Bishop, traveled to Srinagar where she found Dr. Fanny Butler, one of England’s pioneer women doctors, working among the women of the valley without a hospital as a base to serve. Through her generosity a small hospital was built in memory of her late husband. Sadly, however, not many years later a disastrous flood in the valley swept this hospital away. Then in 1902, Dr. Gomery began work while the new hospital building was still under construction. After many years of pioneering service, she retired in 1938. In that year Dr. Noel Fletcher took over as the medical superintendent of the hospital and served through the Second World War, dealing with shortages and overcoming the challenges, before retiring in 1964. She was followed by Dr. M. Mitchell who after a few years handed over to Dr. Millicent Xavier who became the first national Medical Superintendent. Dr. Xavier served till 1989. The phase from 1989 until 1996 was marked by short term commitments by different doctors. From 1992 to 1996 there was no doctor at the hospital. This phase coincided with the most violent phase of the armed insurgency and military action in the valley.
After much prayer, our friend Dr. Sarah took over as the medical superintendent in 1997. She arrived at a time when the hospital was struggling with no doctors and was having trouble providing for even the basic medical needs of the community. Though the work remains challenging today, the initial period was significantly hard and a test to her faith and determination. We are partnering with Dr. Sarah, her son, and their staff to expand and provide more learning space for the nursing school at the hospital. This will also maintain the existence of this hospital and light to the community.
The estimated cost for this expansion is $185,000 USD, and the construction must start this year so that the nursing school can continue holding classes and accepting new enrollments. We have taken the step of faith to stand with them in this expansion, and we also need you to stand with us in prayer and provision for this work.
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