On Education and Empowerment

In October, while I was away on a mission, I got an email from my co-worker/old flatmate/Pratyasha Foundation co-founder Rosie that she had found a very sick little boy in the slum. He was unarguably the sickest child she had seen and he appeared near death. Despite being around four years old, he was unable to walk. He ate mud and had chronic gastrointestinal upset. If he tried to eat anything, his GI system was so sick that he couldn't even break down food, it just passed right through him. The parents brought him to Rosie, knowing that we have access to pediatricians that will provide free health check-ups and treatment to our kids that need it. This family, even in the hierarchy of the slum, is easily one of the most poverty stricken they don't have access to clean water and were unable to identify their resources, let alone afford treatment. Rosie could see how much this family cared, they were scared and she was more than happy to help. 

She set-up an appointment with the hospital and met the father and mother the following day, she described how the father spotted her from far down the rail road tracks and ran to her. The mother and Rosie headed to the doctor where the little boy was treated for a severe gastrointestinal infection, dehydration and malnourishment. After seeing the pediatrician Rosie sat with the mother and gave her a long education session on hygiene, clean food and water preparation, diet recommendations and medication administration. The mother was extremely engaged and involved in the educational process and sure enough after a few check-ups in the slum she reported that he was significantly better. He was starting to eat and his symptoms were nearly non-existent. It has now been five months and the little boy is walking, talking, eating full plates of food and even fighting with his elder brother! 

No mother wants to watch their child suffer, but what do you do when you feel you have no support and do not know your resources? This mother always puts her children first on Sundays, they get their food and when all of the kids have been fed on Sundays only then does she take a plate for herself. She understands that is about the kids, and she believes in us as we believe in her. There is so much to be said for educating mothers, there is endless power in empowering them to take charge of their child's health and well being no matter what their economic situation may be. Seeing this family every weekend, seeing them beaming with happiness over their boys is proof that hopes do come true! 

There is even discussion of starting the older son in school soon. The father talked to Rosie for quite sometime this past weekend about how deeply he desires for his boys to escape this cycle and we all know that really can only come through school. It is so much easier said than done, we have faced serious challenges with getting our girls motivated to continue in the afternoon school. Things were going well until the police came through the slum a few weeks back and knocked down most of the homes. The kids understandably didn't want to leave their parents for school and for most of them, it has been really hard to convince them to start at it again. We have a star student, Khusitan, who goes every single day without fail and she is excelling. We're praying that she continues to be an example for the other kids and that the others will get back on board. Until then, seeing Khusitan so motivated puts the hugest smile on all of our faces!! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this story! Sometimes when everyone I know seems like a self-obsessed asshole, I read your blog to remember there are good people out there trying to make a difference. :) I completely agree that education is the best way to change the system and I know that you and your team can get those children motivated to go to school again!

    Peace & Love!