When two worlds came crashing down

The story of two families plagued by poverty

She held him in her arms and rocked him gently back and forth. The little one was covered in stitches and multiple wired sensors to track his vital signs and she had to wear a protective suit to avoid infection. She is the mother of a 10-month-old baby Tanveer from Agra. While the mother held on to Tanveer, the father eagerly stepped out to talk to me. The story he told me was nothing unheard of but in all it was a story of a lot many people belonging to the section of the society that still resides in poverty and are unable to meet the basic needs of their family. Add to that, the age-old thought process that “more the kids, more income generated” which is a major roadblock in the growth of below the poverty line families.

Tanveer with his parents at Artemis Hospital

23-year-old Roshan is the mother of Gohar hailing from Sant Nagar, Delhi. With a timid face and docile nature, she just needed a little nudge and she opened about her struggle as a girl child. She was married off at the age of 18 and a year later gave birth to her first baby. But her in-laws insisted on more kids and eventually she ended up giving birth to 3 babies. The last one, Gohar who is now 6 months old, suffered from breathing issues and high fever.

What was common and deeply disturbing in both the family scenarios was the lack of essential services, illiteracy, unhygienic living environment and uncertain job conditions.

Tanveer’s father works on temporary jobs and has no idea if he will get work the next day. He supports a family of 4 on a daily uncertain wage. They reside in unhygienic conditions which is the reason why Tanveer got a bout of pneumonia and simultaneously diagnosed with TAPVC (type of congenital malformation in the heart where the Pulmonary Veins terminate at the right side of the heart, instead of the left side). Due to the inability of certain local hospitals to provide treatment for CHD, Tanveer was then referred to Artemis through the Genesis Foundation, which is a foundation working for children.

On the other hand, Roshan who is Gohar’s mother, didn’t even get to experience her transition from a girl to a woman and she had to shoulder the responsibility of 3 kids along with her in-laws and a husband on a temporary job. She never went to school. Her life was limited to taking care of her babies. She not only shoulders the responsibility of her husband’s family but also that of her young brothers and sisters since she lost her mother. She wanted to do so much; one could tell but was held by the societal pressure inflicted upon her by her family.

Gohar, with her mother at Artemis Hospital.

While Gohar was detected with Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which is a heart problem that occurs soon after birth in some babies, they were rejected treatment from several hospitals because they couldn’t produce the legal papers associated with the baby’s birth. Finally, they were referred to Artemis and with the network Genesis Foundation has, they were connected, and this foundation working for children took complete responsibility for the baby. The baby was diagnosed with Gangrene and cataract later on. The Foundation trustees covered all expenses for the treatment of cataract in personal capacity. Roshan, who is Gohar’s mother, later informed us that her gangrene also healed and she’s doing fine now.

It is strange how we are striving towards long term and large-scale benefits for the society at large and yet are unable to provide the basic to all.
The result of this is that not only the child suffers because she acquired such deficiencies and illnesses due to the family she was born into but also the parents who were denied equal opportunity to educate themselves and choose a life based on their own interests.

With support from organizations like Genesis Foundation, I hope we can find and cure these little hearts of their ailments. However, I also hope we, as a society, work towards a future where every individual has an equal right to educate and provide for themselves.

–  Contributed by Neha Chandra

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