The group of Indian children we cared for once grew up in an extremely harsh environment on the streets of Benares, often staying next to a dump without a roof over their heads, and exposed to any kind of climate or danger. The health status of the children was very poor. Due to the proximity of sick people, poor hygiene and sanitation, and no medical care, many of them had contracted tuberculosis and other serious infectious diseases. Conditions, such as diarrhea, worms, lice infestation, ear and skin infections had become almost normal to them. Early on they also suffered from often merciless physical and emotional violence and experienced abuse, neglect, and malnourishment. Only few received one meal a day, most of the children had to beg, work hard (i.e. smashing stones, hauling bricks, delivering coal, collecting garbage), or steal to secure something to eat. 

Health care for children

All children under our care regularly participated in screenings for diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV. If necessary, they received the appropriate treatment and vaccinations. The majority of children was burdened with several diseases or infections at a time, had a weak immune system, as well as kidney or liver problems. Thanks to the loving care and treatment of our staff and nurses, healthy nutrition, and the hygienic environment at the children’s homes, all of them recovered and have reached a very good health status over the years. In addition, Back to Life occasionally also provided medical care for the children’s family members, including treatment and medicines.

Here a few examples of our health care support: 

Amit recovers from skeletal tuberculosis (2012)

Amit (14) successfully completed his treatment for skeletal tuberculosis, which he was diagnosed with in 2011. Back then Amit fell off a bike, but despite severe pain, he did not seek treatment. As a result of their former life on the street, many of the children have a remarkable tolerance to pain. In particular, the teenage boys tend avoid medical treatments. As such, the brave boy did not ask for help until two weeks after the accident. By then, a fist-sized knot had formed at his hips. The nurse immediately took Amit for an examination and wound cleansing to the nearby Apollo Clinic. His test results showed that he suffered from skeletal tuberculosis, which, if left untreated, can lead to bone deformation and destruction of the bone substance. Gladly, Amit’s illness was discovered early and could be cured through an intensive twelve-month multi-drug treatment.

A worm had lodged in her head …. (2011)

For several weeks Meera (16) had complained about strong headaches. Specialists at the Benares Hindu University finally confirmed that a worm had lodged in her head (Neurocysticercosis). Supposedly, the parasite entered Meera’s body when she consumed unclean water or filthy food outside the children’s home. Under the supervision of Dr. Singh, Meera went through a two-phase therapy: first, the worm had to be killed and secondly, it was dissolved by appropriate drugs, so that its remnants could be flushed out of the brain with the blood stream. If left untreated, the worm could have caused irreparable brain damage or a stroke. Luckily, this could be prevented and the girl made a full recovery. 

Facial palsy – fate took another strike at Monicka (2015)

We have often shared stories about Monicka from our girls' home in Benares. Life has not always been easy for her. She grew up as a street kid at the Dasaswamedh Ghat dump and was abused by her alcoholic father. When she was just three years old, he purposely scalded her right hand with hot oil to make her look as miserable as possible when she was begging. In 2010 Back to Life was able to help Monicka to normal life and covered the costs of a reconstruction surgery for her hand. Monicka was very happy to be no longer different and disadvantaged. By then she was 16 years old and developing just fine under our care. Yet, fate took another strike at her. For the second time in just over 1.5 years she fell ill with hemiplegic facial paralysis together with strong fever and earaches. This was a heavy burden for a pretty and fun-loving girl. Unfortunately, her past as a street child still had many negative consequences. Amongst other things, her immune system often did not work well and she was prone to infections and illness. What exactly triggered her semi-facial paralysis could not be determined for sure; yet, bacterial or viral infections are usually the responsible for this condition. Of course, Back to Life took her to the Galaxy Hospital in Benares, ensured she was diagnosed and treated by specialists, and successfully completed her six-months treatment.


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