Khariar is located in the Western part of Orissa, close to the border of Raipur District Chhattisgarh State. It belongs to the Mahanadi basin the Eastern Ghats where mountains are interspersed with wide valleys. The elevation is about 200 meters. The climate is tropical with the rainfall is due to the South West monsoon. The population of Khariar town is 18,000 approximately. It is located in the district of Nuapada and the population served by the hospital is about 200,000 people.
The hospital was founded by the late Rev. Herman and Marie Feierabend, a trained nurse, on 2nd January 1930 on behalf of the American Evangelical Mission of the Evangelical Synod of North America, now the United Church of Christ. The hospital had to fight serious problems in staffing, due to the remoteness of the place. It was initially run as a dispensary, but developed into a Hospital in 1930. It was developed further from 1960 and very extensively from 1971 and at present it is the leading institution in the Voluntary health sector in the State of Orissa and Eastern Chhattisgarh. In the 1970s the Hospital came under the management of the Indian Church, the Church of North India.
Nuapada District in the State of Orissa is now considered one of the most backward districts in India and Khariar is located in the heart of Nuapada district. It comes under a rain shadow belt and there is never adequate rain fall for a good crop. In the past 33 years that Dr. Singh has been there, every few years there has been drought in the Khariar Tahasil (County). Khariar block has also become notorious and nationally famous because of the sale of children and babies which was taking place due to the poor condition of the people and during the time of drought.
There are mostly lower to middle class people who attend the hospital but mostly the people who are served by the hospital are very poor, earning less then Rs.10.00 a day (U.S. $0.30). The income is seasonal as most of the people work on the land as farmers or agricultural labor. Nobody in the hospital is refused treatment for lack of money or space. The philosophy of the hospital is to provide the best medical care to the poorest of the poor even in this most backward area. We believe if a person is poor he is just as much entitled to good medical care as anybody else. To achieve this philosophy and run the hospital as a curative medical centre we do depend on the help from overseas very much.
Almost 80% of the total population is illiterate and more than 90% of women can not read or write. There are educational facilities available such as primary and secondary schools and a few colleges for tertiary education. The hospital runs a primary school up to Class V. The medium of instruction is Oriya. We have now started an English Medium School.
The incidence of communicable disease is higher than the national average, whereas the morbidity pattern of endemic diseases and malnutrition is about national average.
Some communities have a protected water supply, whereas others do not. The hospital has its own water supply in the form of two wide- diameter surface wells which are covered. This has been made possible only during the last ten years mainly through the efforts of U. C.C. at 300 Union in Northfield, Minnesota. Now we also get water from a tube well.