While in India, we had the opportunity to participate in a small “medical clinic” at a school that serves “the poorest of the poor”….children whose families live in tents or small shacks along the overpass nearby. The “school” is actually a small rented building housing a few classrooms. Due to limited space/resources, there are no desks, the children sit on the floor and rest small boards on their laps to provide a steady surface for writing. There’s also a tiny “kitchen” area that consists of a sink & a couple of burners upon which large pots are used to prepare vast quantities of rice and a small amount of dahl (lentils & broth) to top the rice. A small group of “trustees” has joined forces to fund these meals, building rental, a few teachers & a cook (who prepares 3 meals/snacks per day for the ~65 children in attendance).
The “clinic,” organized by our partners there, involved their neighbor (a doctor who donated her time to conduct cursory exams) and a couple of their friends (who took height & weight stats and passed out toothbrushes/toothpaste while teaching the importance of regular brushing). I (Trina) served as Dr. Laskshmi’s scribe, jotting down notes as she described each’s child’s condition. Our partner is maintaining all of the data electronically for on-going analysis of the effectiveness of this clinic & related wellness programs we hope to offer these students.
It didn’t take long for me to begin organizing their medical sheets into piles, based upon medical urgency, dental needs, anemia &/or malnutrition status or “OK” (the latter being a very, very small pile). The clinic took place during the morning hours and by lunchtime children in urgent need were given antibiotics. Nonetheless, I am dismayed to report that 87% of the children were in the “anemic &/or malnourished” category, some of whom also needed dental attention. Further, one of the students brought her x-rays, showing a rather severe case of TB (she was an orphan who 4 months earlier lost her brother to TB). Immediately after the clinic, we began looking into how she could be helped and how to best address the anemia & malnutrition issues (updates will follow).
When designing our website, I felt very drawn to write “A drop of water, a drop of food, a drop of knowledge” mainly because the inclusion of the fundamental needs of water, food & knowledge seemed to best summarize our mission of “fulfilling an ocean of needs, one drop at a time!” Little did I know at the time I was writing it, that the “Drop of Food” would literally come in fluid form initially! And I’m not referring to soup!
Yes, their needs are so extreme (tiny, underweight, under-nourished & anemic), that they literally require liquid vitamin supplements and (in many cases) alternative protein sources, such as “Ensure”-type beverages. Suffice it to say - with our partner (and the blessing of the school's trustees) - MTRF has begun making contributions to address the immediate needs at this school in 2017 and beyond!
…….drop by drop……student by student……day by day……