Tag: children

Do Public Opinions and Outrages also discriminate the poor?

In the recent news, there has been a lot of frenzy regarding the torture and killing of a monkey by 4 medical students in Christian Medical College. It was heartbreaking to see this as it is an example of cruelty by very young people who are in fact committed to help other people. This is not an isolated incident, there was another report of 2 medical students who tortured and injured a puppy as well. The perpetrators or the cruelty is not the only similarity, in both the incidents, there was a huge public uproar on social media and action was taken immediately which is remarkable.

These reactions and actions prove how strong public opinion can be and if people make enough noise, the action is taken. While in these instances, the action was taken and justice was served (as some call it), there are countless incidents which are equally ignored, almost all of which include human lives. Either the public opinions and reactions are not strong enough or limited or does not follow through till justice is served.

In the last decade, more than ever people have raised their voices against injustice which has definitely led to action but most of this is limited to metros and cities. What is about animals that stir up these feelings in people? Is it because they are endangered (as was the monkey)? Is it because they are viewed as defenseless? Is it because they can’t raise voices for themselves?

We hear about numerous deaths of children every day especially in the area I work in or in similar tribal belts. Most of the deaths due to preventable causes like TB, Malaria, malnutrition, lack of basic medical facilities Just yesterday, we lost a child to Malaria, in our project area and , more than 100 children have died due to encephalitis in two months in Malkangiri, another tribal area in Odisha.

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http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/nov/18/encephalopathy-besides-je-killed-malkangiri-children-1540163.html

What about these children? Do these incidents happen so often that we have become immune? Or are they not endangered enough for people to care?

Each child/ human is an endangered species as they are unique individuals, one of a kind person and each death means that an endangered species is lost. Obviously, these situations cannot be solved with just the public opinion, it requires people who are willing to take risks, the government that pays attention and a lot of other factors; but public opinion and raising voices for them is a start so that there is awareness regarding the magnitude of need that is there.

We often hear, don’t treat people like animals but maybe if we paid the same attention, some change might even be possible.

I believe every life is important whether its human or animal but just because something happens so regularly, we shouldn’t become immune to it. If public opinion and response can bring justice for animals then more so for children who are helpless, don’t have a voice and are endangered.

Are they not worthy of our opinions or outrage or our time???

A little action for that big smile…

It was a hot day today and I was reluctant to go for a field visit. But work has to go on and a meeting was to be facilitated in one of our villages. We reached and waited only to find out that people who had agreed to come yesterday were now caught up in some other work and the meeting was cancelled. I was annoyed and decided to go back when Mr. Sanjay (our staff) suggested that we meet some children and follow up on their status.

Since we had put substantial effort into the children in this village, I was hoping to receive some good feedback. We visited Dasrath, who is 3 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. I was hoping to see him in a better position but we met him in the same state as a lot of children with disabilities, neglected, alone and on his bed.

Children with CP are usually required to have different positions which benefit their posture and various other things but since there is no one at home to take care of him when his parents go to work, he spends the entire day lying down, unable to interact with anybody. His parents are generally supportive people but since progress is very slow, they tend to give up and the other obligations are prioritised. This added to our frustrations but we stopped to talk to his siblings and his uncle and explained the benefits of making him sit and teaching him to interact.

As we planned to leave with our frustrations, Mr. Sanjay decided that it was not enough if we just visited over and over again and explained the child’s condition and he wanted to go further.

Please follow the photographs to see what happened.

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This is how he stays, alone
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He seemed excited about sitting but needed some modification for balance.
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Mr. Sanjay initiated the modification
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The kids joined in….
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The uncle took over and the structure was complete.
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He was seeing people from a different angle and hence more interactive.
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Modification for support made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The problem was that he had to made to sit, the usual solutions are fancy items like CP chair or corner chair which are non-available locally  and even if available, unaffordable. A small idea by our staff and half an hour of our time changed the way Dasrath looks at things now.  The family has promised to make other modifications as well.

When we work with communities and work towards empowerment, we focus so much on “Helping them to help themselves”. We talk and explain and then expect them to act and get frustrated when change does not happen the way we expect. We sometimes miss the umpteen opportunities to initiate change a different way Sometimes, action has to be initiated from our side as well, a nudge; a little hand-holding can go a long way. It does not have to be resource intensive, simple gestures and initiatives can make a world of difference.Untitled8

As I left their house, I left my frustrations behind and carried with me the image of his smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading, God Bless

(Consent was taken from his parents)

A Face in the Web

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A lot has been written and debated on the vicious cycle of poverty and disability and has always been of interest to me as well. Often we get lost in the academics of these concepts that reality doesn’t affect us as much. But during my field visit yesterday, I happened to meet someone caught in that web, a face in that vicious cycle.

Anshu is a 2 year old girl with delay in developmental milestones. I had met her during one of our assessment camps for Children with disabilities. She was accompanied by her mother. In the initial interaction, her mother seemed surprisingly knowledgeable. I later found that she was a trained health assistant and had been working for about 6 years. I even took the liberty to assume that the child was getting good care at home and that everything would turn out ok. But unfortunately, not everything is as we see it. A long interaction and a visit to their home showed the other side of their lives.

Anshu is the only child in her family, her father lives in Kerala in South India, where he with many other men from the village had migrated in search of jobs mostly unskilled labour. Her mother is hopeful that her daughter would recover. She had quit her job as a heath assistant to take care of her daughter and is dependent on her husband.

But this is not all, Anshu has a heart condition, when asked if they had taken any treatment, her mother explained that they had gone to Ranchi (about 150 kms away) but couldn’t admit the child as they did not have money and had to come back. She said when they had saved enough money there was no one to accompany them. Her father visits once a year and that could be a time for them to go for treatment but this year due to lack of rains, there has been no agriculture and it also means that her father would not come home this year.

As we observed the child playing cheerfully, it was heart breaking to watch her stop and gasp for air. I offered her a biscuit, her face lit up but she was too tired to come and take it from my hand. As we talked, am disturbed by the thought of how much longer would the child be able to hold on? I pried her mom on if they were planning to have other children, her reply was surprising, she said they wanted to wait till the child is independent otherwise they wouldn’t be able to take care of her properly. I am not sure what is the right reaction or suggestion. I left quietly with a promise to come back. I only can whisper a prayer that the family would win the race against time cause every time I remember that family, I am left with an image of little Anshu waving but her little heart beating so rapidly that it was visible from where I stand.

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Thank You

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: A Humbling Experience

It was one of our usual field visits, only a new village. But the reason for the post is quite different as it’s not the usual experience. It’s one of those instances which give you mixed feelings, heart warming yet cruelly disturbing.

Hope you feel mixed emotions too as you read on.

I was on a field visit to Nawagarh, one of villages with our physiotherapist. We were looking to meet children with disabilities, especially those with whom we could work toward some physical rehabilitation. These visits are especially painful as we get to see children with impairments that could have been prevented, disabilities that have been caused by lack of basic services or means and families undergoing lifelong suffering due to ignorance and proper guidance.

Today was no different, meeting hopeful families just to tell them that there is no cure or just encourage them to keep looking after their children. One of our visits was to Tamana Khatun, a 10 year old girl with severe Cerebral palsy affecting both her cognition and her movement.

Like every other visit, a group of women, children had gathered to watch us speak to the family and meet Tamana. When asked for her family an elderly man explained the situation of the child, emotionless as though he had read the facts of a medical chart.   I formed my own opinion of him as the father in law, the head of the household who hardly cared about a girl with Cerebral Palsy. His following comments confirmed my opinions about him (So I thought!!!). He blatantly announced that the family hadn’t paid attention to the child since she was a girl and it would be pointless spending money on something which would provide no return.

I was a little shocked that he spoke so openly, as people try to pretend to care in front of outsiders. We then asked to speak to her mother and the mother was not to be found among all the women spectators. She came through after a while of searching, a small frail lady in her early twenties. Although she answered our queries about her child’s condition, she didn’t seem to grasp the reality of the situation and the therapy plans for her daughter. It was only the old man who kept responding.

I was annoyed at the irony of the situation, a mother who cared but couldn’t fully comprehend the therapy plan and an old man who was able to understand but didn’t care. As we turned to leave, I stopped to privately ask the mother, how many other children she had and if they could help out in therapy. She said Tamana was her only daughter, that came as a surprise- ONLY DAUGHTER, Something didn’t seem right, so I enquired about her husband, only to find out that he had deserted her after their daughter was born. I just had to ask the next question, whose house was this? And who was that old man? Her answer humbled me, this was her father’s house and that old man was her father.

The man who said he didn’t care and didn’t want to spend on a girl was in reality taking care of two girls, his daughter deserted by her husband and his granddaughter who has cerebral palsy. His actions spoke way louder than his words. His words were from a deep rooted culture but his actions from a deep rooted love.

As we were driving back, various thoughts flooded my head ranging from embarrassment and guilt at assuming the worst of someone to knowing that humanity still had a chance as long as there was love and that no matter who we are, it’s our actions that speak louder than our words.

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Thank You