Krishna, a glimpse into the life of a 17 year old.

Krishna

NAME: Krishna

AGE: 17 years

PROFESSION: Student

FAMILY HISTORY OF TUBERCULOSIS: His brother suffered from tuberculosis

TYPE OF TUBERCULOSIS: Positive (contagious)

TUBERCULOSIS STAGE: CAT I, Intensive phase

 

When I first meet Krishna, a 17 year old boy who suffers from tuberculosis, he tells me that it has been hard to live a normal and happy life. He looks frail, his chest bones are very prominent and he has deep sunken eyes. Those who know him, tell me there is a big difference in his physical appearance from before he got tuberculosis and now. Since being diagnosed with the disease, his friends have completely isolated him and refuse to be near him, talk to him or offer him their support.

 

Unfortunately the stigma attached to tuberculosis is very common in India. But when I talk to Krishna, I realise how wrong this isolation of tuberculosis sufferers is. Krishna is just another teen who is unfortunate enough to suffer from a disease like tuberculosis. Instead of isolating him, his friends should be there with him every step of the way. Because of this isolation Krishna has stopped studying, his grades have dropped and he cannot concentrate on anything for long. Imagine putting yourself in Krishna’s place, imagine how it would feel to suffer from tuberculosis and be isolated by your friends. It would be heart-wrenching.

 

People have this false illusion that boys are very strong; they can do anything and need no one. When I meet Krishna, I can see the opposite. He says he wants to be with his friends and feels for the first time in his life that he has no one to turn tofor help.

 

All over the world, more than 530,000 children like Krishna, suffer from tuberculosis and at least 1/3rd of them suffer from contagious or positive tuberculosis. Is it right to seclude these children at a time when they crave the support of friends and family?

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

 

Make a donation which will treat a tuberculosis patient and save a human life today. http://www.testing.opasha.org/donate-now/

 

Written by: Karmishtha Seth

Mahmood, the rickshaw puller

A rickshaw puller by profession, 61 year old Mahmood Khairati was earning a meager salary and barely able to make ends meet. 

Mr. Mahmood Khairati

Mr. Mahmood Khairati

 

His condition has been deteriorating steadily for the last few months. He has developed a persistent cough, suffers from a fever every evening and frequent night sweats. These symptoms and his growing weakness has now forced him to stay at home and rest.

 

Despite the obvious symptoms, the disease wasn’t detected, as he couldn’t afford to consult a private doctor or lose out on an entire days’ salary by standing in long lines at a government hospital.

 

One day an Operation ASHA provider visited his house, interacted with him and immediately recognized his symptoms. After a lot of persuasion Mahmood agreed to visit a lab and get tested; the test came back positive. However, because of the intense social stigma associated with TB, he denied the situation and refused to take treatment of any sort. The Operation ASHA provider formed a personal bond with Mr. Mahmood, connected with him on an emotional level, spoke to him as a friend, and finally convinced him to take the medication.

 

During healthier times, Mahmood had a lot of friends with whom he spent hours. However, during his time of illness no one even wanted to stand on his door. Even his family turned against him. He became a social outcast, left all alone to cope with his disease.

 

He went through a difficult time, lost all hope and felt like quitting the treatment in between. However, Operation ASHA’s well trained provider was his continuous companion, as his Doctor, his friend and a family member. The Use of eCompliance ensured that Mahmood adhered to the treatment.

 

He followed the standard 6 month long dots regime and now, he is healthy once again. Regaining his health has made him happier than ever and he is extremely thankful to Operation ASHA and the Government for the same. Sickness had made him so weak that he wasn’t able to stand on his feet but getting back his strength after successful treatment, has been no less than a miracle for him. He is now working hard and supporting his family, to the best of his capability.

 

Mahmood’s story had a happy ending but there are many more who are struggling with TB & the adverse effects of poverty. Operation ASHA’s providers are working round the clock to help them regain their health and happiness. The Active case finding done by Operation ASHA providers has increased the detection rate & reduced the gap between detection of disease & initiation of treatment. eCompliance has eliminated human error & ensured that every single dose is taken by the patient thereby, reducing default

 

Till now operation ASHA has successfully treated more than 30,000 patients. It has created jobs for more than 190 semi literate youths and has given an additional income to 175 Micro-entrepreneurs/Community partners in disadvantaged communities, which serve as the locations for Operation ASHA treatment centers.

The humbleness of a suffering TB patient!

urban_construction

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 

― Mother Teresa

 

It has been a month since I left the comfort of my home in Montenegro and moved to India for my internship with Operation ASHA. New Delhi’s streets buzzing with life and constant noise have penetrated my quiet world and woken me up from the monotony of day-to-day life. I became rather vigilant while faced with challenges that were foreign to me. I recall initial powerful, unsettling feeling that would take over me and would preface even the smallest task I solely had to do.

Last week I met people who experience such and worse unsettling feeling 100% of the time. Living in the slum at the corner of Delhi, people in Meethapur have shown to me that human’s ability to adapt is truly amazing. In the epicenter of the world’s failure to provide better life for disadvantaged, I have found myself standing still and taking in what was around me. In many ways the time there has stopped and real life-changing action has yet to start, but curiously life carried on: students were on their way back from school, shops were crowded with people and traffic was as hectic as usual. For them it was a typical day.

 

We were visiting MDR-TB patient who has been taking TB medication from OpASHA since 2012. Before meeting the patient I had no idea what to expect or what to do or say once we do meet. In fact, I knew I could not say much more than “Namaste” or “Thik hai” – none of which, I thought, could really sound comforting to a person with MDR-TB. By the time provider took us to the patient’s house the crowd on the streets declined and I was able to peek into the people’s homes. I saw shy and curious looks in the children’s eyes as we were walking down the street. Soon we stopped in front of the house of our patient. The house was in the basement of a building and right at the entrance there was a long pipe, which was leaking out the green contaminated water.

 

To enter the house we had to bend and jump down a tiny bit. I remember thinking how easily it would be for that green water to flow in during the monsoon weather. The flies were everywhere: on the floor, on the dishes, on the furniture. I thought to myself: What would it be like to spend one night here? For these people though, it was lifetime of living in same conditions. As we entered the room I saw a child lying on the bed and I thought to myself: “That’s our patient”. I was looking at the child and I was amazed to see how peacefully he played on the bed. Then in an instant, a woman passed by me.

Child

She had a friendly smile on her face and welcoming eyes. In fact, she looked so healthy and strong and to my surprise – she was the patient we came to visit.

Anita

Her name is Anita. She is 30 years old and is a mother of three children – two sons and a girl. She got married illegally when she was 15 and had her first child a year later. When she was declared as a MDR-TB patient in 2012 her husband, who worked in export factory, showed no support and was treating her poorly. Illiterate and helpless, Anita could not even dare to show her misery or voice her issues. Living alone she shared the destiny of many women in this community. Yet, when I saw her, I could not read any of it from her face.

 

She started of as a regular TB patient. She took CAT I medicine at her villager for 6 months. She relapsed and had to go through another 8-9 months TB treatment in 2009 in Delhi. Once she was declared MDR her only hope was Operation ASHA. She left her home because of the safety of her children but like any mother, could not stay away from them and came back. MDR-TB is a two year long, painful treatment. Initially she responded fine to the medication but soon the side effects brought in a lot of pain. Once she tried committing suicide because the pain was becoming unbearable but the thought of her children’s future stopped her. Since then she has been taking the medication regularly and is feeling so much better. In another six months she will be cured. She hopes her story can motivate other TB patients to follow their treatment fully.

 

If there is something I will remember from this visit then it is certainly the kind reception we received in her modest home. Her humble acts of kindness have made me realize that despite her socio-economic situation, in my eyes she was far wealthier than many who have it all.

 

She echoes the sentiments of Dr Shelly Batra, President and Co-Founder, Operation ASHA, who firmly believes that kindness and compassion can do wonders, and give the extra ‘push’ to work done by well meaning individuals and organizations across the world.

Nababa’s Story- The vicious circle of TB & Poverty


“TB is the child of poverty – and also its parent and provider.”  – Archbishop Desmond Tutu 

 

This is certainly the case with Nababa, a 40 years old TB patient living in a very interior rural village of Madhya Pradesh.

 

He is just 40 years old but his body shows as if he is in his late fifties. He’s become frail, can’t walk properly, and it seems like tuberculosis has consumed his whole body.

 

The combination of illness with his pitiable economic condition has made his life even more miserable. Every day, Nababa has to swallow seven tablets, many times without taking a single bite of bread. As the only person in his family to earn, not only does he suffer from malnourishment, but those who depend on him do as well.

 

He used to earn his daily wage but now earning anything is impossible in his present physical condition. There are times when he does not get food for three consecutive days. He is actually starving; other basic necessities are out of question.

 

His wife died long ago. While he has a son and a 13 year old daughter, his son has abandoned him. Nababa is left to provide for his daughter and together they struggle.

 

Eventually, he should be fine and be able to return to work, earning his daily wage and caring for his daughter. However, there is no sudden cure, no sudden relief. Nababa has months of drug therapy ahead.

 

The lingering question is how will he and his daughter survive throughout the treatment? What will she need to do to feed themboth? With no income, no savings, no one to help them, there is plenty of fear and no hope.

 

This story of Nababa is, sadly, not unique. Many other persons are in a similar situation, living in such a miserable condition due to disease and back-breaking poverty.

 

An old Arabic proverb states, “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” We can bring health and hope to him, his daughter, and others suffering similar conditions. How?

 

Please visit our website and learn more about our efforts to eradicate tuberculosis. With even a small donation, you can improve the situation for Nababa and others like him: http://www.testing.opasha.org/donate-now/

 

With your support there can be a happy ending to this story.

 

Written by Shubhika Dwivedi

Saraswati Kumari

Saraswati

Saraswati Kumari

The center Saraswati Kumari attends is located in Meethapur I. The entrance is at a dusty intersection, between stalls selling fruit and car parts. Inside the center, the walls are painted blue, and I can see the shelf stocked with OpASHA patient medication boxes in a back room.

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Payal: A positive attitude can win any fight.

Payal comes to the Prahladbur center in the morning, accompanied by her mother. She is wearing a white and brown kurta, with bright red flip flops and blue-painted toenails. She appears to have recently lost a couple of her front teeth, but otherwise closely resembles her mother, who sits next to her in a bright blue and yellow kurta.

 

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Ram Shree: An XDR Patient

On my way to Ram Shree’s house, a 50 year old XDR-TB patient, I was a bit scared as well because XDR-TB which is an extensively drug-resistant form of tuberculosis,  spreads bacteria very rapidly and therefore everyone at office instructed me to take all the necessary precautions.
I met Ram Shree in her dark, isolated room- the doors and windows closed. It immediately sent a message to me that she does not want to see the world around her. I greeted her and was grateful to OpAsha for providing medicines from our center, which is really close to her house. We slowly started talking about her health, her family and then gradually she started to open her heart to me.

Ram Shree got married 35 years ago and started living in Delhi with her spouse. Her husband worked as a watchman, and she worked as household help. This was the story of a couple who were together with access to basic amenities of life, working hard and supporting the family and striving for  a better future.

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Nisha

Nisha lives at the end of a row in the slums of Meethapur. Just beyond her house lie dusty fields interspersed with green pools of stagnant water, filled with rubbish. Dogs lie in the shade, trying to keep cool. We enter her home, and her mother brings over plastic chairs for us to sit on. As my eyes adjust to the shadows of the tiny room, the first thing I notice about Nisha, who is seated on the bed, is how thin she is. She is 18 years old, in the 12th class, but looks much younger. Originally from Buxar, in Bihar, she found out that she had TB when she was admitted to the hospital for a ruptured vein.

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