Children's Home: The children 

Stories from the "go-ahead kids"  

Suman's broken leg

Two days after the official opening of our second children's home, we got word through Manoj that Suman, a six year old girl from Sankat Mocan who was on our application list, had probably broken her leg and suffered terrible pain and fever.

We immediately had her seen by our orthopedist, who had bad news: the leg was broken in several places, there was a blood clot and infection had set in. He immediately punctured the leg and extracted as much fluid as possible. He then ordered the girl to lie still and sleep as much as possible with the leg elevated. He informed us that there was a real chance that the leg needed to be amputated. We were deeply shocked! We brought Suman to our first children's home and arranged for round-the-clock care. As she could not walk to the bathroom, a bedpan was organised. During the first two nights, Suman was unable to sleep and our social worker and night staff kept awake all night to hold her hand.

We then asked Suman's mother to stay with her daughter overnight, and the girl finally relaxed and slept for a few hours. After extensive treatment, many examinations and several plaster casts, we learnt with great relief that the leg was not lost and that Suman would be well again. Her leg remained however in a cast for another two months. While she still had to stay in bed, she was quite content, as she had already settled in with the other children at the home. The girls and boys went out of their way to look after Suman, who was resting on a large timber bed, propped up with pillows, under the Mango tree in front of the house.

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Raju's operation

In 2004, Raju had to undergo surgery. He suffered from a deformation of his urinary tract, which had been completely blocked by accretions so that a second outlet had appeared at a most unusual place on his body. During the operation performed by two surgeons, this opening was closed and a new outlet for his urine was created. This procedure required Raju to stay in hospital for ten days. Throughout his treatment, Raju was very brave.

And there is even a funny story to be told about his surgery: The day before the operation, Raju was all exited and couldn't wait for the big day. I was somewhat surprised by this. It turned out that, during our consultations with the surgeon, Raju overheard us talk about the fee for the operation of 6,000 Rupees (about 120 Euro), and he was very proud that anybody would consider investing so much money in him! He just needed to tell everybody! When I promised him to see him straight after the operation with a present of a new top-brand toy car, he was the happiest child in the world.

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The surgery took place at the private clinic of the doctor, and Raju was to be cared for afterwards in a small ward with only three beds. When we arrived at the clinic, Raju was still in great form. Sheela, Ram, his mother Indu Devi and his sister Poonam accompanied us to offer moral support. We all sat down on the bed and waited a while, as the doctor was still in surgery. At some stage, Raju needed to go to the bathroom. He stood up, left the room, took the wrong door and suddenly stood in the operating theatre. He watched in horror as the surgeons rummaged around in somebody's open abdomen, with blood and guts all over the place. Where would one find an unmarked door that brings you straight into an operating theatre but in India! The poor boy was now of course terrified and did not recover from his fright until everything was over and he regained consciousness after the operation.

At that point, he had forgotten all about it and enjoyed being the centre of attention. All in all, the operation cost us 10,000 Rupees, or about 250 Euro. Raju fully recovered and can now lead a normal life.

 

Monica plays hide and seek

Last year, we refurbished our children's home and ordered ten large timber beds with stow-away boxes for the bed linen from a local carpentry shop. One day, we noticed that three small girls – Monica, Archan and Kushillya – were missing. We searched everywhere for them. When we could not find them anywhere in the house or garden, panic set in. Then we suddenly heard muffled giggling and scratching. It turned out that the three girls had squeezed together into a stow-away box and somehow managed to close it, but were now unable to get out again. We were relieved to find them safe and well, and then nailed the boxes close, as it would have only taken another day or two until another one of our children would have tried the same trick.

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Mohit's and Aakash's blue letters

One day, we received two "blue letters" from the school. Such letters are sent out to parents and guardians of children who misbehave. The first letter concerned Mohit, who was eight at the time. Mohit is a very bright child who does extremely well in school. He finds learning easy and has never caused any trouble. One day, however, he was extremely hungry, and the packed lunch from the children's home was just not enough. He therefore grabbed the lunch box of another girl and ate everything in it. Realising that this had probably not been a good move, he then placed a note in the box, with the words "thank you!". It was his handwriting that gave him away...

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Aakash's on the other hand was in much more serious trouble. We received a stern letter from the headmaster of the school. He told us that he valued our work and was aware of the high moral standards that we instilled in our children. He however also informed us that Aakash had been expelled from the school due to repeat misbehaviour of the most serious kind. He made it clear that he could not tolerate the boy's licentiousness any longer and that he had received several complaints about Aakash from other parents. I could not believe what I read and immediately called in Aakash. I asked him what he had been up to, as the letter gave me no clue to his "crime". Aakash, who was thirteen at the time, told me what happened. One of the girls in his class found the words "I love you" scribbled onto the last page of her schoolbook. In India, such a note of affection is already seen as morally depraved and licentious. Aakash claimed that he was not the culprit and challenged me to compare the written note with his own hand. He insisted to be innocent and said that everybody had just ganged up on him. While I believed him, I still asked him to apologise to the headmaster, the girl and her parents. He was eventually readmitted by the school.

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S.D.