Community Health Adventures
June 26th, 2007 by INMED
I’ve been dying to share some things with you. It seems way too long since I last wrote. A lot has happened in the past week or so. I went out to see what the community health programs are doing. One group teaches midwives safer practices, a skill here that’s passed down generationally with no formal training. I think maybe I told you about this already, but women are so ignorant about deliveries. It’s a really good target to reduce maternal deaths.
There’s also a physical therapy team and these guys are so cute! They’ve trained two or three guys on exercises to do with disabled kids and they go out on their motorbikes to visit each kid weekly. The families are generally very receptive. It’s really important to motivate the family to take interest in their kids; otherwise, it just doesn’t work. On my last trip to the community I remember the last two houses clearly. The first was such a cute baby! Dipa. She’s a cerebral palsy patient. Once they started coming out and made some progress with her the family got so excited. When I was there, the grandpa came running and couldn’t wait to show us that she could stand by herself. They work with her every day and are so proud of her. I couldn’t wait to find a connection that worked so I could write home about the poster child for physical therapy success. Then I got to the next house. The girl that we had come to visit died four days before. I stood there like a total intruder, a foreigner in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if I’d known the language, I wouldn’t have known what to say. I wanted to cry with them.
I spent the first part of this week in OB/GYN. One patient that came in a few days ago is still haunting me. Asha Devi (everyone here is either a Devi or a Khatoon). Anyway, she’s 20 years old, married, 30 weeks pregnant with her husband’s child, and her chart reads, in broken English, ‘wants to abortion’. Dr. Anand counseled her for a long time and gave her a track about Christianity. She cried and cried. It was obvious that she doesn’t want an abortion. I learned something new about the culture here. Girls are married off as early as 13, but they don’t join their husbands until later; they continue to live with their families for some time. When they do come together, there’s a ceremony and until then they are not supposed to consumate the marriage. They hadn’t had their ceremony yet. It’s so sad. She’s so far a long. The next president of India may be a woman. Things may be changing for the better!
Now that I’ve written a novel for you, it hit me yesterday that I’ll be coming home soon. I’m going to miss Raxaul. At the same time, I’m really excited to come home again with a new appreciation for the things I’ve taken for granted. Even here, I think I take things for granted, like electricity and food and showers and toilets, things that aren’t an issue for us in the hospital compound, but are hard to come by on the outside.