RMF India Program Manager – Health and Nutrition Pratik Phadkule writes about his experience with CommCare and the challenges of treating Malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh.
Living in an age of extreme technological advancement certainly is a boon for mankind. This technological advancement has helped us in all the fields – communication, space travel, medicine, and engineering. Most importantly, with the help of this, our lives have become so much easier. I think, on this point, no one would disagree.
By Nyamat Bindra, Director, Education, Real Medicine Foundation, India
How to make the children not get bored in the summer? How can I make them enjoy staying at school? What can I make them do that is new, exciting, cost effective and something that the children would learn new skills from? What could it be …. Then it struck me! The one thing that Indians love…. Cricket!
I decided to organize a camp for the boys at school and art class for the girls!
RMF Community Nutrition Educator, Samoti, and a child recovering from SAM. Photo Credit: Ximena Prugue
In March 2009, when I was conducting the initial field visits to develop RMF’s Malnutrition Eradication Program I visited a village called Shali Dana, in Kalwa block of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh. I remember being shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of children with severe acute malnutrition I saw in this village and the complete apathy and absence of government services in this village. We saw dozens of glassy eyed children with thinning hair, bulging stomachs, and protruding ribs, empty anganwadi centers, and children who had been tortured by traditional healers in the name of recovery because of the absence of government health services. Seeing this village convinced me that RMF had no choice but to do something drastic about this problem.
I’m often asked what keeps me going in the face of the hardships and emotionally taxing situations we face working on issues such as childhood malnutrition and HIV/AIDS day in and day out. My answer is simple: it’s all about finding inspiration in the most unexpected of places and circumstances.
Caitlin, and the mothers and children at the Malnutrition clinic
On Tuesday while out on a village visit we came across a little girl, Gila, who was extremely sick and dangerously malnourished. She and her family had just returned from a month long stay at a private hospital in Dahod, Gujarat where Gila was properly diagnosed with tubercular meningitis, but unfortunately was not given the proper treatment. Over the month she was there the family spent their entire savings and then some only to see Gila rapidly deteriorating. After a month when the family could no longer afford “treatment” they were sent home. This is when we found the family in the village, desperate for us to help in any way we could. As soon as I saw Gila I knew she needed expert medical care not available in the state of MP. We told the family that we would have to bring the little girl to the hospital immediately and they eagerly agreed without a second thought.
Naiara joined me on the second day and we began the day with a quick trip to the toy store. Luckily, the toy storeowners had just gone to Indore and had some more toys for us! We picked up a couple of our CNEs and headed back out to the villages, this time starting with some of the kids living in villages outside of our program’s reach.
Every morning, when I wake up to the honking horns, howling dogs, and bustles of morning life I wonder how the day is going to be. As I lay out my yoga mat and dedicate my practice to what will be, I try to take a deep breath for all that I can not anticipate. See,life in the field is a constant state of uncertainty, a question of what will happen next, and a sequence of highs and lows, equilibrium a state I no longer know.
Phil Ebner has written for our blog before on his time spent volunteering with a team from Loyola Marymount University, in Madhya Pradesh, India with the Revitalizing and Empowering Villages (R.E.V) team. The following article was just published at Loyola’s online paper about his team’s work:
Manoj and his friend Sunil (names changed) strolled into the link-ART office today and quietly sat down, neither of their feet touching the ground as their skinny legs and knobby knees dangled over the chairs. At 7 years old Manoj is one of our youngest HIV+ patients, but also one of the most responsible. Manoj and Sunil walked 15 km to get to our office today so that Sunil could pick up his ART medication from us for the month. In his high little voice he told me how important it is to take his ART medication every day and says he follows all of our instructions strictly.
Manoj was extremely sick when he was brought to Jeevan Jyoti Hospital over a year and a half ago. Malnourished with a vicious fungal infection across his face, he was never able to attend school because he was always out sick. Both of Manoj’s parents died when he was young so his older sister has been raising him. She couldn’t afford to care for him anymore and had no idea what to do.
We put Manoj right on ART and now a year and a half later he’s a healthy, little boy with bright eyes and a mischievous grin. Manoj (and our counselor who visits him regularly) says that his sister takes very good care of him and monitors his medication and nutrition daily. With RMF and Jeevan Jyoti’s help she’s set up a small convenience shop near their home where she makes enough money to take care of their modest household expenses.
Very good article published in Sunday’s New York Times about the malnutrition and food crisis in India. This focuses specifically on the crisis in Jhabua and Madhya Pradesh where our Malnutrition Initiative and Team India are based.