First medical camp of this academic year was on 13th August 2017. We checked almost 270 odd kids from 5 schools during the camp. Seniors kids showed very good results in terms of hygiene, cleanliness and health. De-worming did show good results in most of the cases. Seasonal cough and cold, ear infection, stomach ailments and untreated wounds were the main health related challenges, we observed during the camp. As per our doctors, almost 80% of the problems can be addressed easily if the parents follow the basics and an access to a primary health care center is in the vicinity.
We also had arranged 10 used cycles from a society in Thane which we distributed to our schools.
We started our NGO activities in 2012 in the Vikramgadh area and got associated with Janathepada, a small school in the area. The teachers described the story of a student Eknath and his sister Alka. Eknath is slightly handicapped due to improperly treated polio. Both the kids have forgettable childhood since their parents are completely irresponsible, mostly drunk and leave kids alone for days together without bothering about their food or other needs. Both the kids were under tremendous depression in the initial period and were not able to communicate. While teachers used to help by making the neighbors feed the kid, this was not a good solution. Within the first year of our association with them, we could see major changes in both the kids. Nutritious meals, proper medication, availability of lots of books and sports material and proper care by us and the teachers made huge changes in their lives. Eknath became more expressive and active while Alka turned into a chirpy and naughty girl, which suited their age. The transformation within short period was extremely drastic! Eknath left the school after 4th and moved to another school. He used to to be around during our visits. Since Alka was in our supervision, we could see her progress very regularly. However, Eknath’s health showed degradation in the absence of healthy food and care in the other school. Our interactions reduced over a period. Incidentally, Janathepada was the first school in this camp.
We happened to meet Eknath after a long gap. While he has grown from a kid to a teenager, we could see the old depressed Eknath in front of us with blank face, expressionless eyes! His body language did show his instant mood uplift seeing us there. However, he was just not able to express. Almost back to square one. These kids live in a society, which has its inherent limitations. NGO’s like Suhrid Foundation become a part of the system along with teachers and try to bring in the positive changes. We do see the reflection of same during their stay with us. However, the moment the kids are out of the school, they go back to the same surrounding which is not conducive for their proper growth. We have observed positive changes in parents in many villages after our involvement in schools of their villages. However, it is still long way to go in terms of institutionalizing the process. Moreover, we are still not in the position to act as reformer at the village level.
Eknath’s poor condition reflected the handicap more at the society level rather than his own physical handicap. When we look at it from the kid’s perspective, the moment the two important entities viz Suhrid Foundation and caring teachers are out of their system at the tender age, their well being is only dependent on their parents, who are not very responsible in many cases. At this stage, kids leave us at the age of 11 to 12 and are quite vulnerable to the negative environment. If we are able to take care of them till the age of 15 or 16, they would have had almost 8 to 10 years strong association with us, which would help them take care of themselves. We may be working on this model in future.