Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2 year old boy expires due to severe undernutrition (negligence)


Shreya, a Law student from Noida, joins us for the month-long internship during her vacations.


7 pm:
Impressed by her day-long dedication, skills and past experiences, I call her up to assign the specific (& challenging) task of streamlining our 5 girls of Airoli-gaav community- Madhuri, Sheinki, Durpata, Einnetti and Laxmi. One by one, we visit all the houses and finally land up at Einnetti’s door. Her mother stuns us by saying,” Doctor has given his words. There are hardly any chances for the survival of my son now (2 yr old Ganesh)” Further shocked by the highly mal-nutritious state of the child, we ring up our well-wisher pediatrician Dr.Gitanjali immediately for her availability in Airoli Municipal Hospital & then instruct Einnetti’s (i.e. the child’s) mother to be ready on Friday at 10am to go to the hospital for the child’s proper check-up, this time under our supervision.

9pm: I request one of our most reliable & senior citizen volunteers (morning batch) Kartha madam and Patel madam to look after this special case on Friday. As usual, they take up this job instantly.


Knowing about the shifting of the hospital to a new location at Sector-15, Kartha Madam drives down to confirm its exact location to rule out any next day hassles, while being with the child.

7pm: Kartha Madam goes to Airoli gaav to confirm the next day’s plan with Einnetti’s mother. After couple of louder & clear instructions, she leaves the place with some worries and doubts in her mind, whether that lady (in a totally drunken state) will listen to her.


Shreya happily updates me about the attendance of Airoli-gaav girls on Thursday (her field-work efforts paid off :-)

9.45am: Kartha Madam & Patel Madam reach Einnetti’s home, only to find her in a completely drunken state. I get an SMS update. But I request them to not delay the matter further and so they leave for the hospital with Einnetti & the child i.e. her brother (& not their mother). Doctor diagnoses this case as a very serious one and suggests Urgent Admission of the child to Vashi Hospital with her recommendation note. The team comes back to take the permission from the mother. Mother (in a drunken condition) strongly condemns this decision and refuses to budge, despite a million requests made by the 2 senior ladies thus making them leave the premises utterly exhausted, disappointed & dejected. I get the bad news, and hence the job to be done.

3pm: I receive another blow – All the Sector-17 children are absent since 2-3 days. I decide to visit Sector-17 with Shreya (having noticed her keen interest on Field work)

7pm: We first go to Einnetti’s home and find her in a complete unconscious (drunken) state with her poor baby too sleeping nearby. Shreya further updates me that she had seen Einnetti’s mother in the afternoon with a bottle of alcohol on her way. (Disgusting! It means she had woken up from the drunken state, then went back to the wine shop and again got drunk!) With no traces of both the girls- Einnetti and Durpata, we too leave the place, worried, instructing their neighbor i.e. Laxmi’s mother, “Call me immediately as soon as the elder brother of Einnetti comes back from his work”

7.30pm We head for Sector-17 community now. Meet Musoba’s & Anil’s families. They bring to our knowledge the reason for children’s absence – Families have left for the marriage at their native place (scheduled on 2nd June!) Even these families will leave on Sunday. Will be back on second week of June!!! We then meet 2-3 new families; try to convince them about the importance of education in their children’s lives. We tell them about the support extended by other sector-17 families to us & the tangible change in their children now. Hurray, we get 4 new students!!

8pm: I still don’t hear anything from Einnetti’s elder brother. Musoba & Anil lead us to Bharat’s new home at sector-4. We meet his mother and instruct him to be regular.

8.30pm: Shreya, who comes to our centre daily at 10am, leaves for her home (Kopar Khairne)

10.30pm I still don’t hear anything from Einnetti’s elder brother. I ring up the helpline– Dhaval. He picks me up and we reach gaav-devi ground where we literally give a closer look to all the people sleeping over there, one-by-one. We find out Einnetti’s mother, but again in a comatose condition, with her 3 children sleeping around her, but her elder son is still missing. We catch Rahul’s father, a person whom we can trust a little bit in this community. We explain him the entire matter. He points us out towards the Wanted Person. We find Anil, Einnetti’s elder brother, enjoying the FM Radio! I lose my nerves and burst out. Warn him to be ready at 10am on the next day or face the dire consequences of loosing his younger brother within a week. He feels the heat and gives the word. (I realize, I could have controlled my temper a bit. But then, sometimes, these people just take us for granted. How can they simply ignore the life of their own child? )

11pm: Kartha Madam is not there on the next day. So Dhaval & I rush into her home to collect the Airoli doctor’s recommendation letter, needed for Vashi hospital. We find her family still awake and pondering over the same serious matter!! She suggests me to involve our senior citizen volunteer Padale Sir for the next day’s hospital work. I ring him up immediately and again, as usual, he too agrees instantly. (I strongly feel our ‘young’ volunteers really need to derive some inspiration from the inexorable efforts of our ‘senior citizen’ volunteers – the zeal & vigor with which they do the Field work, and mind you – that too Regularly, their all-time higher enthusiasm levels, their willingness to accept any kind of responsibilities, that too almost instantly – (I am so happy that at least some of us have started ‘working’ on the meaning of LEADership)…. Let’s ‘learn something’ from these wonderful senior citizens,


I find Rahul and couple of other children waiting outside my home as the class is still not open. Rahul says,” TulsiRAm and Govind wont come today. They are going to someone’s marriage. But I don’t want to go there. How can I bunk the class for marriage? I love to be in the class daily on time. I enjoy here so much. I told this to them. But they don’t listen to me.” We reach the centre. Children & volunteers – Dhaval, Shreya, Dipesh, Bhageshree, Padale Sir trickle down one by one. Our Kuheli teacher too arrives by now. Pravin reaches on time with the rifles and other stuff for the scheduled workshop. I get calls from Einetti – twice – “Sir, We are waiting for you!”

10.30am: I and Padale Sir leave for Airoli-gaav community, handing over the workshop responsibility to other volunteers. All 4 of us (I, Padale Sir, Einnetti’s mother and her elder brother Anil) take an auto for Bus Depot. Then take a Bus for Vashi. Reach the hospital at @ 11.30am. Padale Sir’s senior citizenship comes to the rescue. We could bypass the long queue for getting the case paper. Ward no.17 OPD. Pediatrician too gets stunned on seeing the condition of the child. “Immediately admit him in the Pediatric ward” We rush down again to grab the admission papers for making the file. Child weighed. Just 5.5kg!! Expected: 10-12 Kg. Doctor lashes out at the mother for her inept handling, “What the heck were you doing till now? Are you his actual mother?” We explain the matter. Tones change. They appreciate us for our efforts. Two Glucose salines inserted immediately. Oxygen ON!! Mother’s eyes well up in tears now. Consoling starts Family History gets noted. Severe! Doctors are not so positive about the condition of child. “Treatment is ON. We will do our best. We can reach to some conclusion only by Monday.” We give them our contact details. Families already have it. Doctor is initially reluctant to give her cell number. After some assurances and requests, she passes it off finally. We also take the hospital’s number. I offer some money to Anil. “No Sir, Thanks. I have it”

1pm: We leave the hospital.

5.30pm: Meeting with Yuva-Parivartan NGO

8pm: I & Chaitra head for Einnetti’s home. “Oh! What about the 2 girls’ food?” She has already prepared the food. She is packing Mutton curry and Rice in a tiffin for her elder brother (Anil) and mother. Anil has come back to home at 5.30pm. He says the treatment is going on. Doctors are not saying anything. He leaves. We ask Einnetti if she needs anything. “No!” comes the pat response from the brave girl. “You won’t be afraid sleeping alone, right?” The same response comes again but with little more confidence. Time and again, LEAD has always been witness to the fortitude of this beautiful girl. I drop an SMS to the doctor about the health of our child. I am still waiting for the response.


I call up Shreya requesting her to visit the Vashi hospital for the updates. She agrees immediately.

11.30am: She reaches our centre. Child is still under Oxygen & only Salines. Condition is little bit better. Blood Transfusion is being done. Results of the tests expected on Monday. Chances are high for HIV +ve as his immune system is highly affected. If it responds, then he may recover in minimum one and a half months. Mother repents for her negligent behaviour. We wait for Monday now, praying for the well-being of child!


Shreya reaches the hospital to know the condition of our child and his tests' reports. Finds him in a very critical condition. She updates me that the child is unable to breathe and is being rushed into ICCU. Doctors raise their hands about his survival but still keep trying. Mother is kept out of the loop. Condition still not improving and tried for the artificial respiration. Chest being thumped. Mother does not having her elder son Anil's contact details.
11.15am: We lose him !! Mother informed after some time to avert the shock. I request Kartha madam to go to the Airoli-gaav community to check out if there is some one over there. Meanwhile, I could connect to Madhuri's mother through Raja's dad's mobile. I inform her about the sad incident and pass on Shreya's number to her for any communication with Einnetti's mother. She zooms out to inform the concerned people. Meanwhile, Kartha madam could also pass on the message to Anil through Govind's mother (Her elder son and Anil work together)
11.45am: Anil reaches at the hospital. There is no Ambulance. Anil's Boss arranges for the car in which they can take the child's body to Airoli. Shreya goes out to purchase the white cloth to wrap the body while Anil stays with her mother. Meanwhile, other relatives too arrive at the spot.
12.45pm: Shreya leaves the hospital after collecting the death certificate. Blood test reports to come on Tuesday. She tells me that doctor has suggested for the blood test of child's siblings(Einnetti and Durpata) as soon as possible.
7pm: I go to Einnetti's home to take the stock of the situation. Einnetti looks normal playing at the premises. Durpata is not there. Mother, who was cooking, starts crying after seeing me. "Its my mistake. I have killed my son. I should have admitted him long back. The hospital is so good. It has all the instruments. He would be happily playing on my lap by now. I did not listen to the 2 madams. I am paying the price. I am grateful to that madam (Shreya) who was there for the whole day. She had come on Sunday also. Else it would have been difficult for me to understand what the doctor was speaking in English. I promise, I will not touch the liquor now." Einnetti silently listens to our conversation. Her honest confessions and repentance largely cools off my resentment against her. Still, I give her my piece of mind and call up Dr. Gitanjali if we have the HIV/TB testing facility at Airoli Hospital. After confirmation, I strictly instruct the mother to be ready at 10am on the next morning with her 2 girls. Embarrassed now, she agrees instantly. I call up Kartha madam and Shreya to take them to sector-15 hospital the next day. As usual, they agree immediately. Other children - Rahul, Tulsiram, Mallesh, Govind, see me walking away from her home. But this time there were No calls from them. No Smiles. No Greetings!

I leave with a positive note - Its all for the Best! The child has been relieved from his severe pains which he was not able to express. Einnetti and Durpata are relieved from their motherly responsibilities. We can admit them to school now in June and will ensure their bright future. And hopefully, the mother will leave her addiction.

They leave for the testing. Laxmi's mother also joins them saying she is not feeling well.
12pm: I get the updates. Blood samples, etc taken for the testing of mother and her 2 daughters.They have a tough time to control Einnetti for the syringe(the same problem that I and Manisha had faced some time back) Reports expected on Friday. Durpata gets some medicines for some boils on her skin. Mallesh's mother too get hers dose and complains to Kartha madam about the lady's negligent behaviour towards her baby."I told her many times to follow your instructions. She doesn't listen to me at all" Mother has returned to normal. Interacts confidently with the volunteers. Cant make out that she has lost her baby just 1 day back!
2pm: I ring up Vashi Hospital to know whether child's reports have come. After being transferred to 3 different departments - Ward, ICCU, Casualty - Five times, I lose my temper and finally get them on their knees.

Child has mainly died because of acute under-nutrition. His appetite was totally lost. So was not able to eat anything. Haemoglobin level was much below the normal. Blood transfusions were done but didn't help much. Lungs were totally destroyed. Suffered with a Cardio-Respiratory arrest in the morning and the survival became difficult. HIV test is negative but he may be in the window period so cant be sure about that. TB test couldn't be done here due to time shortage but mother says child's father died because of TB and even child's medication for TB was going on in their native place, but the course was not completed.

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