We have lost seven children since I arrived. For these seven children, our best was not enough. They were too sick, adequate medical care too scarce, and their bodies too weak. We have treated hundreds of children at the NRC since I came here late July, but some of these cases were so terrible and challenging that our “best” was all that we could promise.  Most of them made it, their resiliency evident by the smiles we finally saw, but a few we just couldn’t save.

In honor of these children, I decided to stop ignoring my birthday and use it to grant the wishes of a couple of kids via the "Causes" application on Facebook. In just three days, I had surpassed my target of $1,000. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the giving nature of my friends and family who all pulled together to grant the wishes of these children.  I also figured that if we could grant the wishes of two children in three days, we could grant more wishes before my actual birthday—so I upped the goal!

February 3rd marked the beginning of Chinese New Year, and the year of the Rabbit. With all of the donations that had already come in, I decided to do a little Goong Hay Fat Choy celebration for our most serious cases. We made a list of the kids who touched our hearts—the most complicated cases of malnutrition—that could use a little bit of psychosocial stimulation. For about $100, Anjana and I purchased every non-motorized toy in the local toyshop and went out to the field with some of our Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs).

Oh yea, and keep in mind that the last time most of these kids saw me, I was having someone stick them with a blood test, IV antibiotics, malaria rapid test, or measles vaccination. They definitely do not associate me with toys….


Day One:

"C", our little HIV+ baby boy, got a truck and a coloring book. I also saw his mother smile for the first time ever. He just started ART (after months of battling the system) and is finally in the green of the MUAC tape! (Photo used with permission)

Lolita, a little girl we’ve been supplying with in-village therapeutic food, has chubby little cheeks and received a tea set, ball, and coloring book.

Sangeeta and Pannu, our post-measles SAM cases, got dolls, walkers, coloring books, and balls. Pannu, whose eyes are scarred from his bout with measles, needs to have a corneal transplant, an operation not covered by the government schemes for children below the poverty line. This will cost over 2.5 lakh rupees (approximately $5,500) and will require a donor and significant amount of hospital time. Even if we get the donation and the donor, it is unsure whether the parents are able to take that much time away from the fields. For now, we’re happy with the two little one’s being nice and chubby.

Salem, a measles/SAM/malaria/anemia case, received in-village TF and heavy-duty malaria treatment. He was very confused when we handed him a truck and ball instead of a malaria rapid prick and yucky yellow medicine.

Mamta, a little girl who had suffered with severe post-measles bronchial pneumonia, received a tea set and push toy. We also met her new little baby brother!

Kavita is a little girl who left the NRC without finishing her malaria treatment. She was severely malnourished and sick, but the family just couldn’t stay. We weren’t able to bring her malaria treatment in village, as she suffered from a type of malaria that did not have a simple form of medication, and it was too dangerous to allow the family to self-medicate. When we saw her in the village, we were all amazed! Her grandmother had taken our counseling and used it to start feeding her properly. Fortunately, the partial medication had worked on the malaria, and Kavita is now a healthy little girl!

Basanti, our intense case of full body edema and anemia, was woken up from her nap when we arrived. Her mother first introduced us to her new little brother, and then showed Basanti what we had brought her! We asked the mother if her husband would come with Basanti to Amedabad to have an operation to fix her foot, and her mother was so excited she ran into her fields and came back with a bundle of corn! It’s incredible how giving people are, even when they have nothing.

Pankaj and Maria are the epitome of inspiration. After all of the attention we’ve paid them (and plethora of field visits), the Anganwadi worker decided to bring them into her home for the past couple of months until we can all find a more sustainable solution. In just one month, Pankaj began walking, talking, laughing, and playing. Maria has started school. They’re both just incredible lights of my life, and what a joy it was to see the Anganwadi worker so active with them!

Vishal saw us coming and ran up with his arms wide open and cheeky little grin on his face. He immediately grabbed a little pull-toy duck and started pulling it over the dirt living space. He also reached for the MUAC tape to show off how much weight he had gained! We got to meet his new little sister and all left with huge smiles on our faces. What a wonderful day.

By the end of the first day, we had visited 12 villages and completely run out of toys. We had a whole list of children left, and decided to regroup the next day. Little did we know that Day Two would turn our lives upside down. Little did you know that your donations honestly would save two little lives.

Stay tuned for the Day Two story from Jaimie and further updates from the field!

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For more information about RMF’s Malnutrition Eradication Program in India, click here.

We can use any financial help you are able to provide on this project to continue our Education, Treatment and Outreach and help towards our goal of Malnutrition Eradication in this region of India.

To contribute to this initiative, please visit our website at realmedicinefoundation.org.

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