Welcome to the next part of our fourth edition of Bekind Update.This part focuses on the day my Dad and I (Shane) spent with one of our partner organisations, Sanchar. Sanchar is an outreach group, with its headquarters in a village outside Kolkata. Our visit took place on my 23rd birthday, June 4th 2010, and what a wonderful birthday it was! You can find out more about Sanchar in the "Our Projects" section of our website.
Sanchar “Lucky Kantar”? - A little boy with CP
Our day started when we were collected by Ashok, one of Sanchar’s representatives. Our first stop was Sanchar’s headquarters, where we met with co-founder of the organisation, Tulika Das. We had a brief meeting during which we hammered out the details for Sanchar’s first child sponsorship programme.
After the meeting we hopped into a jeep with Gopal and Neelu, members of the Sanchar team. My father had met Gopal previously and later on during the day I found out that Gopal had broken up his summer vacation to be with us for the day.
Our journey took us to meet four of the children, who Bekind would sponsor through our newly set up sponsorship programme. On our first home visit we met Arup Shil. Arup lives with his family in the rural village of Amgachia, about an hour outside Kolkata. Arup had several medical complications at birth and suffers from multiple disabilities, namely blindness and Cerebral Palsy.
Sanchar has been working with Arup since 2009. In this time he has learned to sit up by himself. He is also learning how to wash, dress and feed himself and how to walk. It was wonderful to hear how well Arup had progressed since Sanchar started working with him and to see how well he responded to Gopal.
Our next house was a bit off the beaten track, so much so that we had to walk several kilometres down a brick path from the main road to reach it. The heat and humidity were oppressive but we continued on. At the end of the road we entered a yard, complete with chickens, and met Riya Malik and her mother. Riya lives with her parents in the village of Uttar Bagi, about an hour outside Kolkata. Riya was born prematurely and has Cerebral Palsy. Sanchar started working with Riya in August 2009. Before this Riya could not sit up by herself, now she can sit up with little support. She is receiving physiotherapy and is learning how to walk and manage her disability.
On our third home visit we met Hasina, a ten year old girl, who also suffers from cerebral palsy. Sanchar are training her to manage her disability and are also helping her with her education.
Our fourth and final visit of the day brought us to the remote village of Gotberia. After driving down an extremely narrow road with sharp drops into green pools on either side, we reached “Lucky’s” house.
Laxmikanta Shee a.k.a. “Lucky” is eight years old and lives with his grandparents. Lucky’s mother suffered from jaundice while she was pregnant and he was born prematurely at eight months with cerebral palsy.
As we walked across into the compound I caught sight of Lucky for the first time. Lucky was in a cage, or what appeared to be a cage, it was actually a wooden play pen. The grandfather, skin and bone, was sitting on the steps of the house and put his hand hands together to greet us as we arrived. He remained there for the duration of our visit.
As we got to know Lucky, his grandmother disappeared to wash some glasses in the nearby, green lake and proceeded to fill them with a white cloudy liquid. Gopal and Neelu were quite happy to drink what they had been given but Dad and I tactfully managed to avoid drinking it. It is extremely difficult to decline offers of food or drink especially from people who have nothing.
Dad and I continued to talk to and play with Lucky, getting him to stand up straight and to walk around the courtyard. His legs were incredibly thin and he could not walk at all without support from us. Apparently he does not eat well and as a result his leg muscles have not developed enough to allow him to support his own weight. Sanchar will install a paralell bar, which will enable him to learn how to walk without support from another person.
As we were getting ready to leave, Lucky’s grandmother slipped off, unnoticed again and got a couple of the local boys to climb two nearby coconut trees and collect a couple of coconuts for us. It is truly remarkable how people with so little, go to such trouble to make their guests comfortable.
And so we left Lucky with heavy hearts and a very heavy bag of coconuts but secure in the knowledge that Sanchar are keeping a close eye on Lucky and all the other children they care for, helping them and their families to manage their disabilities and to have better chances in life.
We have thus far only managed to get direct sponsorship for 3 out of the 10 children that we agreed to sponsor through Sanchar. All of these children suffer from Cerebral Palsy with some, like Arup, suffering from multiple disabilities. If you would be interested in sponsoring "Lucky" or one of the other childen Bekind has committed to sponsoring, please contact us.