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Voices from the Field: Goals for the New Year in India

January 19, 2011 - India

by Jamie Shaff

photo: Pankaj walking

Happy New Year!

I finally arrived back to Jhabua after several planes, trains, automobiles, rickshaws, and countries. Go ahead and throw a bicycle in there for good measure. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for skis, but it was definitely worth sacrificing the slopes for some family time. The United States showed me a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with as much family, friends, and food as I could cram in my short reprieve from India. And don’t forget the hot showers!

As I sit on my porch and watch the sunset across the valley, I find it hard to believe that just a few days ago I was sliding around in the snow. Globalization is truly remarkable.

My time in India began with an all-to-typical “doh!” moment as I heard my glasses tumble down the squat toilet on the train from Delhi. I write “heard” as I am quite literally blind, with vision of -7. I thank the Lord and every deity for the gift of contact lenses, for saving me from being absolutely handicapped, but life without glasses is not one I wish to live much longer! I do hope that some poor blind person finds the specs and is given the gift of sight. Note to self: from now on, I will only get large dark frames so that, if such an event is to ever reoccur, I will have a greater ability to see where they landed and stop them before they end up on the tracks!  However, my friends, glasses are not what I want to discuss.

My first days back in Jhabua left me with enough smiles and cheer to cover the glasses and more. Some of my absolute favorite patients came back for follow up with nothing but good news!

photo: Twins

*Pankaj (4) has finally started walking, running, and saying, “Hello!” He enjoys playing with the toys at the NRC, and his 9-year-old aunt, Maria, is still taking excellent care of him. He eats with fervor, and has turned lethargy into attitude. We are still hoping to find a school for the two of them, but for now we are happy with his health and steady development.

photo: Naiara and Pankaj

*My goal for the New Year was to make Basanti (3) smile (a girl who presented with full body edema November 2010, requiring an intraosseous blood transfusion-sans anesthesia- and NG tube). Not only did she smile (with teeth!) but she is also trying to walk and talk! Basanti needs an operation for her cleft foot, so my new goal for the year is to fix Basanti’s foot. It shall be done!

photo: Basanti

*Our serious measles cases-Sangeeta (3), Pannu (1), Jaimuna (2), Gunga (2), and Mahima (2)-all came for follow up happy and healthy. They had plump little cheeks, were smiling and playing, and are altogether doing wonderfully! As we jump into our new year, we have some serious follow up to do post-measles outbreak, but I’m ecstatic to start off the year with some success cases.

photo: Sangeeta and Pannu

Altogether, a India’s welcome has been filled with miracles. As we begin to get new programs started, old programs revamped, and future programs conceptualized, these miracle cases give us hope and inspiration. I guess we did something right in 2010—here’s to 2011!

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