Saving the life of a tribal mother and her children

Our Centre recently invested in a tiny 100cc 8 seater Suzuki van to take children to hospital, act as an ambulance, buy large supplies for our community centre etc. The van was ‘christened’ when a 22 year old Tribal woman’s waters broke on the backseat. We had been taking her 10 month old baby who was near death after 2 weeks of diarrhoea (the baby is 5kg and should be 8kg). Megha got pregnant immediately after having her last child. This little girl is her fourth. She is almost illiterate and married at the age of 17. Her husband is an alcoholic and her mother in law supports a family of 8 on the meagre wage of a house cleaner (barely enough to buy food).

Only two weeks before we saved Megha’s baby boy Sahil from death by getting him hydrated with saline and much needed food and vitamins. Megha didn’t realise that babies need to be fed several times a day (as opposed to the adults in her family who eat once or twice) and their food should not be placed on the floor. Our organisation started feeding her children as they are severely underweight (her 3 year old girl is only as big as a healthy one year old and her 5 year old boy has behavioural problems and often fails to go to school). We have created an infrastructure so that several malnourished children in Megha’s area receive food and tuition (because their parents are alcoholics and unable to care for them and their schools have 70 children in one class).

Megha had no blankets to wrap her new born in, so we gave her some. We took food everyday as her family live too far to bring it and we paid for much needed medicine (which is not provided by the government hospital where up to 30 women in one ward, 2 in each bed give birth simultaneously with a few doctors looking on. Shilpa was then moved to a mattress on the floor of the hospital amongst the cockroaches. The hospital refused to discharge her until someone from her family offered blood to replace the blood she had received. Her husband was rejected because he was too drunk, and everyone else in the family was rejected because they were under 40kg. In the end Ayya Yeshe had to donate to free Megha from hospital!

Miraculously, Megha’s new baby girl was born normal and healthy. Both mother and child are well and are taking medicine and food sponsored by Bodhicitta foundation.

Normally our foundation tries to take what is called a ‘sustainable’ approach to social work – that is we don’t just focus on one individual, we make programmes that will help many needy people at once. But there are frequently desperate cases of people who are clearly unable to help themselves such as the elderly, children or those who are mentally or physically challenged. These cases require special care.

Megha’s husband agreed to have a vasectomy (as Megha was refused for tubal ligation as she was too anaemic), but then got drunk and refused the operation. Our social workers chased him down the street trying to question him about why he’d changed his mind! It is sad that we live in a world where children still starve, where girls are so ignorant they don’t know how to feed their babies, use birth control or keep themselves clean. Your kind donations saved the live of this young mother and her two babies and her other children who are severely underweight. We have also given the family clean clothes, blankets, painted and baby proofed the house and assigned them a social worker. Now these children have a chance.