Dr Mari Visits Orissa

Introducing Dr Mari’s and her experiences of working in the Orissa region of India with the UK registered charity Love the One


I still remember as it was yesterday… I was sitting in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, listening to several job opportunities around the world, when I started to travel with my imagination. I suddenly thought: “Actually I know where I want to go after studying my Diploma, I really want to go to Orissa and work with Cat and Mary!” A few months later I was on a plane to Orissa!

Yes, I am a paediatrician, like Cat & Mary and I did the Diploma in tropical Medicine, like Cat & Mary..but there’s something different: I am Italian, unlike Cat & Mary!!

I already knew about Love the One, as I volunteered for them before, in south India, so I knew this was going to be another amazing experience. However I had never met them before so I couldn’t wait to work by their side!

I arrived in Berhampur on the 16th of May and I knew it was summertime and it was going to be hot…well, I’ve never felt so hot in my life: Everyday it was about 40°C, with high humidity as well. I reached a record of 5 showers per day sometimes!! But you know what? When I was working in clinic, or playing football with the kids, or cooking in front of the barbeque, or travelling to seek care for the kids, in all these different situations I never felt hot and I always found the strength to carry on.


I only had 5 weeks to spend in Berhampur and I really wanted to make the most of my time there! Every day it was a different day in Saradhabali colony: despite having plans, something different was happening every single day..isn’t this amazing?

First thing I did was make friends!

Obviously I had the pleasure to finally meet Mary, Cat and Soma first. What can I say? Mary and Cat are so inspirational, actually i don’t think they are human, they surely have some supernatural power! They coordinate the team extremely well, they are excellent doctors, but the most important thing is that they really are amazing people! What a privilege I had to meet them!!

And Soma, what a beautiful boy! His smile can open your heart and those eyes can make you melt! Soma is really clever, I promised him next time we’re going to build a robot!

But in their house there’s more: Asha, Molly and Daisy, the 3 labradors that entertain all of us, clever and funny dogs, excellent company!

In my journey I also had the privilege of meeting all members of Love the One staff. This is a great team, I wish I could take them to Italy to work with me! They all do an excellent work to help the poor and sick kids.

I could really write 100 pages and more about all the friends I met, including the kids, their families, the other volunteers from abroad, the neighbours. I’ll just say that they all enriched me with their kindness, their prayers, their food, their words, their colours.

Working in 40°C is not easy, sometimes you feel you need a break and you have to stop. I strongly believe that working with a smile can really make a difference and I tried to offer my smile to everybody. I had the pleasure and priviledge to have the nicest interpreters ever and such a great team to support me every day. Team work is fundamental, especially when life gets really challenging.

I had the chance to work in the slum clinics and see the reality of people living there. I helped to move the toys for the new EPIC centre. I took sick children to a private hospital in a different state, I listened to parents, I supported them, I tried to help with analysing surveys. I tried to help wherever I could and this is the best part: I wasn’t just Dr Mari, I was and I wanted to be a volunteer for 360°, trying to give as much as I could.

To be honest I think I spent the majority of my time ENJOYING myself!

Yes, I enjoyed cooking the very famous Italian/Indian BBQ chicken, I enjoyed a lot playing football with the neighbours, I enjoyed friendships with the community, I enjoyed making Espresso for everybody, I enjoyed travelling on the back of a motorbike, I enjoyed going to the market, I enjoyed talking to everybody in whichever language, I enjoyed taking a lot of pictures of the monkeys jumping everywhere around the colony…I enjoyed every single day!!

Now I’m back home I want to tell everybody about my adventure in Orissa and all the amazing people I met. I hope I can transmit my enthusiasm to other people and get them to advocate for children around the world.

And while I’m writing all these things I think: “I can’t wait to go back!”

Yes, that’s right I will definitely go back to Berhampur! I said I knew it was going to be another amazing experience and I was going to meet new friends, but I never thought I was actually going to find a new Family!!

See you soon Berhampur, Dr Mari

Dr Mariangela Labruzzo