2nd March 2013
This may be one of the most heart breaking stories of a child that we at Love the One have ever experienced, but amongst the heart break though, there IS hope!
Here's Bhuri's* story...
Bhuri is 4 year old little girl and one of 8 children. She has lived by the side of the railway track all of her young life, with her parents and siblings. They have no shelter or home, they simply sleep in a wooden box next to the rubbish tip. Bhuri's parents have lost all hope due to their terrible circumstances and being at the bottom of the caste system. They dull their pain in the only way they know... with drugs and alcohol, and sniffing whitener.
In 2012, Bhuri's parents were out late at night, working as rag pickers, rifling through the stinking garbage to collect anything they can sell for a few rupees. When they arrived back, at 3am, to where the children were sleeping, Bhuri was missing. Neighbours alerted to them that she was dead on one of the rubbish tips. Bhuri's parents rushed over and found Bhuri stripped naked, covered in blood and unconscious on top of the garbage. They rushed her to the nearest government hospital where she needed to be admitted for emergency surgery.
She had been stolen and so badly gangraped that she was damaged internally and needed some of her bowel to be removed, resulting in her needing a stoma - bringing the bowel out through her stomach wall to allow the bowel to heal.
After 3 days Bhuri regained consciousness and recounted the events to her father: she had intially been given breakfast to eat by one man whilst another man raped her, and then they gave her alcohol to quieten her down whilst the raping continued, and finally they put their hands over her mouth and suffocated her to keep her still and she lost consciousness. Bhuri's father told us that the same man had attempted to rape Bhuri 3 months prior to this but Bhuri had managed to scream and her parents had come running to rescue her. With a chaotic lifestyle and no permanent shelter, so many of these young children are so vulnerable to being sold, kidnapped, raped and trafficked. On the day we found Bhuri, her mother had reported another man had tried to steal her 1 year old baby girl the night before!
So how did we find out about this little girl?
Well months before, after this terrible incident, a wonderful couple, Paul & Jintu, living in the same town came alongside the family and offered much love, care and support. This couple are heading up an organisation working with the children who are neglected or abandoned, living on the railway stations.
Bhuri's parents asked them if they would take Bhuri's 6 year old sister into their small family foster home to protect her and give her an education, stable family life and hope for the future. It was decided at this time that Bhuri would be too upset to leave her mum so she remained with them with regular visits from Paul, Jintu and their other daughter.
Despite Paul advocating and trying so hard for many months to get more medical help for Bhuri, the system was failing them and Bhuri remained living with an open stoma, no stoma bags with running liquid faeces down her body, living on the streets. She had no place to be washed down, and life became too difficult for the parents to even begin to care for her. Bhuri's dad reported to us in tears that he had lost all hope that anything could be done to help his daughter and he felt it was better for her if she just died. He had no voice and no ability to change things for his daughter.
During this time, Drs Mary & Cat from Love the One were visiting family in Australia and during this visit connected with a lovely lady who has been working in the NGO setting in India for many years... Enter Bev into the story! Bev simply loves the people in India! She is such a warm and inspiring lady who has been travelling out to India for many years now, and together with Paul and Jintu had helped to establish this amazing work with the Railway Kids. After we chatted and shared lots of stories, with tears in her eyes Bev then shared with us the story of little Bhuri and asked if we could help her.
So in a foreign country, far from India, with strangers meeting for the first time... Bhuri's story broke all of our hearts and connected us all up. 2 months later... the Indian, Australian and UK teams all met together in India and together Bhuri and her parents were found!
Bhuri was withdrawn and covered in faeces, Dad was very sad and distressed and Mum seemed indifferent to her daughter. Over the day we were able to wash her down, put her in clean clothes, play with her and hear more of her story. After checking her over medically we then began to make a plan together.
What happened next was amazing!
Paul and Jintu agreed with us that Bhuri needed more care than her parents could offer alone on the streets so offered her mum and some of the young siblings to come and live at their house whilst we got Bhuri medical help. Jintu spent much time with Bhuri's mum, hearing all her struggles, and gently counselled her as to how best care for her daughter. Bhuri's mum has been blossoming under Jintu's tuition and started to wash and care for her daughter at their home.
From a medical point of view, we were able to get a bowel contrast scan that day and met up with a paediatric surgeon to discuss her case. He agreed that he wanted to help Bhuri at a reduced rate and admitted her that week for the operation she desperately needed - to reverse the stoma and make her bowel with normal function again! Bhuri's surgery was successful and has made an excellent recovery!
From an emotional point of view... coming into a warm, loving family home had an immediate impact on Bhuri. The other young children welcomed her with open arms and within minutes Bhuri was laughing and playing with her new teddy bear, tucking into her lunch and chatting with her sister as if she had no worries in the world!
So from a simply horrific event, where Bhuri was used, abused and left to die, many others gathered around and did all they could, just to help one little unknown 4 year old girl on the streets and her family. Bhuri is now continuing to rebuild her little shattered life with much love and play!
Love the One team are so thrilled to play just a small part in her story, help with her medical care and to meet her, her family and those caring for her, and to continue to visit and check on her progress over the coming years.