24th August 2015
Arriving with no hope...
This week we met a girl and her granny. The story was one of heart break and sorrow, and all hope had been lost. This is the story of Dhuki and how she has inspired us all into action.
Dhuki was born at home, an unattended difficult delivery where sadly her mum died in child birth. Dhuki's dad ran away shortly after the delivery.
Dhuki was cared for by her grandparents as best they could manage, with no medical input or support. Dhuki has cerebral palsy as a result of the difficult birth, and yet there was no services on offer to help this family. No paediatrician to give advice, no physiotherapist to intervene at an early stage, no family support in any way.
Dhuki's grandfather had an accident 2 years ago and died. Dhuki's grandmother was widowed at the age of 70 years, and is now the sole carer for her granddaughter. They live outside, on the veranda of the family home, whilst the grandmother's other son and their family live inside. Dhuki and her grandmother are not welcome in the house and they have to manage alone, rejected and unwanted.
Granny has to work, cleaning three houses each day to earn money to survive. Dhuki is left alone on the veranda until her grandmother returns. Dhuki, 18 years old, is unable to move, speak and eats very little. She has not left her veranda for the past 5 years. She has pressure sores and twisted limbs with fixed deformities in her bones, causing her pain and distress as she lies for 24 hours a day on the dirty concrete floor, with no soft mattress to lie on.
She weighs 9 kg, less than the weight of a healthy 1 year old. She is literally wasting away. Our hearts broke and the team shed tears as Granny poured out her story to us. Tragic and seemingly without hope.
As the clinic team chatted to Granny, our visiting medical student, Christine, started to interact with Dhuki. Eye contact was made, a comfortable cushion mattress was brought in and Christine began to stroke Dhuki's forehead gently. Dhuki responded for the first time, with a beaming smile. A spark of hope ignited in the room, Granny looked overjoyed and the team began to move on from the past onto concentrating on Dhuki's future, and the future of other children and families who face the same difficulties ahead of them.
Dhuki's will to live, despite her tragic circumstances has galvanised our team into action.
We opened our Children's centre earlier this year to offer community based rehabilitation support, through our therapy weeks to many families in need, but we want to offer more. We cannot turn our eyes away.
So we are really excited to speed up our plans and as from next week we will be opening up the Children's Centre on a daily basis as we invite our children with special needs to their very own special day care centre. As well as medical care and special feeding, Dhuki and others will have 1-1 play therapy, comfortable quiet places to sleep and rest and hopefully have lots of fun!
So thank you Dhuki for the privilege of being able to meet you, hear your story, and be inspired again to ensure all children can be cared for with excellence in Orissa. We can't wait to have you join in on all the fun here!