Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Victims of Endosulfan

  Cashew plantations were not part of the flora and fauna of Kerala. They were brought to India by the Portuguese. They brought many wars and diseases to the shores of Kerala. But of all the things brought on by the Portuguese the cashew plantations were never considered harmful, at least not recently. Now the least harmful has become the most evil and violent killer of all. The indiscreet use of a pesticide called Endosulfan in cashew plantations has lead to genetic diseases and death. A large section of the people in the district of Kasaragod is affected by Endosulfan in one way or other.  

  Last week I went to Kasaragod, the northernmost district of the southernmost state Kerala. I was on a journey to meet a few of the victims of Endosulfan poisoning, so that our organization can give medical aid to a few of them. My initial plan was to meet ten to fifteen families and shortlist five to dispense the medical aid. I knew it was not going to be a pleasant journey. But I am not a naive person going to meet the first Endosulfan victim in his life. I have seen many victims before and had my fair share of horrors. But this journey was something more than I ever bargained for.

  First I went to a lady who is a teacher in a special school. She is a social worker as well as the mother of an Endosulfan victim. After the initial pleasantries I went inside the house and saw the child. But there I was mistaken, though I thought she was a young child; she was in fact 23 years old. Not more than three feet, weighing may be 30 kilograms, there lies an epileptic child with cerebral palsy and physical deformities; a classical case of Endosulfan poisoning. She is also half paralyzed, dumb, with problems to eye sight and hearing. Yet she was able to identify people. She responded to her mother by laughing (I don't know whether the strange sounds made by her qualifies as laughter). I suddenly realized what was in store for me for the rest of the day. I simply wanted to run away. But her mother didn't allow me. To prove their case she showed me the treatment details. I am no medical expert, but I can say this much; the child do not even have a single organ doing its function. From there I was taken to the next victim of this brutal pesticide. There I saw another child. She was also a 20 years old, but no more than four feet tall. There was just an old lady to look after the child; her grandmother. The mother has gone for work so that she can feed the child at least twice a day. I asked about the father and understood the gentleman has abandoned the family long back. Well, who can criticize him? Looking after these children is a very difficult task and he took the easy path. Well poor mothers, they are the victims of double betrayal, betrayal by the state and their loved ones. But they were all willing to go to any extent to protect their children. 

  From there I was taken to the third victim, another child. This time for a change a real child; she was just three years old. I love children and usually a three year old will make you happy with their laughter and pranks. Not this one, she was in absolute agony with pus coming out of her ears. She was biting her grandmother and aunties while her mother explained her plight to me. Yet another house abandoned by its master when the child was born. I felt ashamed to call myself a man when my lots were running away in such a cowardly manner. From there I was taken to the next victim like Christ bearing his cross. The next victim was a boy of 7 years. He too was similar to the other three victims, epileptic, half paralyzed and having cerebral palsy. They didn’t even have a bed for the child. He was lying on a plastic sheet. The child talked to me in a language only he and God can understand. Definitely he was not asking for help, he was too proud for it. I believe he was accusing me of inaction, inaction in the first degree. I felt secure because I don’t believe in God, I absolutely don’t want to stand in front of such a powerful being and answer for my inaction.

  The icing to the cake was made when I went to the next victim. I was accompanied by a blind social worker and two others to the next victim. The blind social worker herself was a victim of Endosulfan but she is one of the most courageous, optimistic and happy person I have ever met personally. She was being hopeful about the whole issue. But then I remember she was blind. She doesn't have to see what is happening around her. We reached the house of the next victim. I won’t call it a house. At least not in the normal sense, may be as a euphemism we can call it a house. The house was locked from the outside. An old man; a neighbor told us that the mother of the child went for work and the usual practice is to lock the house from the outside. I didn't ask about the father of the child because I already knew the answer. Then the other lady who came with me had a look through the window. She was looking shocked, and my brain told me not to look. But my heart overruled my brain like many other times and made me have a look into the room. There I saw one of the saddest human beings I ever saw personally. I have seen young children with AIDS; people with terminal illness, mentally retarded children and many more. But this was too low even for my standards. There I saw a child (She was 26 years old, somebody told me later, but looked like a child), she was half paralyzed and mentally retarded. She was lying on the floor soaked in her bodily wastes and wearing torn clothes. An aluminum plate was kept near her (my dog eats from a better plate and definitely better food) and she was trying to drink from the plate by licking. Well, I had enough, social work or no social work I don’t want to see anything like this. I told the others who came with me that I had enough and I will inform them about the project later.

  Now I am back in my room in front of my computer and thought I will write down my experience so that I can post it in my blog which has a monthly readership of 5 (Including myself, I always read what I write). May be by some accident if there is a God and if he asks me what I did. At least I can show him this post.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Yet Another Victim of Endosulfan

   The godforsaken lands in Kasaragod (Kerala) has been devastated by the indiscreet use of Endosulfan (A pesticide used in cashew plantations)  for the past four decades. Yet another child has fallen victim to Endosulfan in the recent days. A child born in the village of Balamthodu is born with severe malformations. The child do not have upper lip. Yet another proof for the genetic diseases spread by the widespread use of Endosulfan. The authorities are continuing their drowse while countless people are suffering for ages. The parents of the who can't even afford three square meals a day is struggling to cope up with the medical needs of the baby. It's high time that the authorities should address this problem.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Special Education Should be Made Free

   The article given below was taken from a national daily in India.

   The article clearly shows how difficult it is for the differently abled children to obtain an education. The cost for educating differently abled children is so high that many often end up in dark cells without any training or care. The article also raises serious doubts about the treatment of these children by the successive state and central governments. The constitution of our republic bestows equal rights to all citizens irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and ethnicity. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) enacted by the Government of India on 4th August 2009 grants the right of education to all the children in our country. But sadly, a section of the society is still lacking these fundamental rights. They are no less citizens than any other person in the republic. But their rights are ignored and brush aside by the same society responsible for protecting them.   


Monday, 10 June 2013

Special Education Q & A Site Proposal on Stack Exchange

  Stack Exchange is the World's most popular site on which Question & Answer forums are created and maintained. I have proposed a Site for Q & A on Special Education. But in order to set up this site a lot of followers are required. I truly believe that such a Q & A forum will help a lot of children with special needs. If you are interested please follow this proposal. It will be a great help.

Here is the Link to the proposed Special Education Q & A Site.

Please Click the image below to follow the Proposed Site.
Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Special EducationEducation

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Myths about Differently Abled Children

  Many often I have met people who believe that children with profound mental retardation are inherently happy all the time. Many still believe that those children are always laughing blissfully chasing butterflies. But to my utter dismay and disbelief, I found out that it is not the case. Studies have shown that these children are often severely depressed, many even requiring medical attention.

  But the society is negligent and I believe they do so because of the myths that surround these children. I have seen kids who sit in the darkness without any hint of happiness in their face. But we the society prefer to believe that the children are happy and doesn't require our attention. It is wishful thinking in its extreme form. We do not want to share their problems, we just hide our heads like Ostriches.

  Two to Three percentage of the total population in this world suffers from mental retardation. But most of them are having a very mild mental retardation. If found young and trained properly they might have a chance at life. Let us not forget our marginalized brothers and sisters who are in need of our compassion. Let us at least acknowledge the fact that there are such people, depressed, unwanted, scorned and ridiculed. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Hunger ?

  Well today I am going to write about Hunger, The oldest of all the problems ever faced by human beings. Many of us are unfamiliar with hunger. I tell you it is not the pleasurable sensation you feel when you are on a diet to reduce a few kilograms of your flesh. Hunger is the feeling you will have after living on two meals a days for your entire life. Yes there are such people in India. Well some studies suggest that three meals a day is still a luxury for a third of our citizens. Let us hope they have exaggerated the results. Even if one third is too high an estimate, it is a sure fact millions are hungry in our country. Each day thousands of children are nearing the end because of malnutrition.

  What can we do to solve these problems? Obviously we can't depend on our government for that. They have been trying to do that for the past sixty five years. I am not going to criticize the government for their action or inaction. All I am interested is in solutions. I absolutely believe that as citizens of this great nation we can solve this problem even without the interventions of the ruling class. My favorite solution involves the upper class in our country.

  Let us assume for arguments sake there are 300 million people belonging to the upper class in India. That is the same number of people not having three meals a day. If every one in our society who can feed one extra person other than his family is ready to do it.Then the problem of hunger is solved overnight. All we have to do is feed a child otherwise on a journey to his grave at an accelerated rate. Yes all we need to spend is less than Rs.100 a day to care for a child who might be living a block away from you (May be in a slum or in the side walk). We must not forget that Rs.100 is what most of the middle class and upper class Indians spend a day to eat junk food, which in turn will add unwanted calories to our body. For these unwanted calories, we again have to spend time in Gymnasiums, if not in hospitals.

  So all we need to do is say yes to the children in need of our help.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Things to do when you see a child beggar

 When you see a child beggar in front of you (It is not an uncommon sight in many of our cities) please try to follow some of the suggestions I put forward (Only if you find them genuine and trustworthy)

1. Most of the children are forced to do what they are doing. Some even have to achieve targets stipulated by child traffickers. These children will not benefit from the money you give to them. So never ever give them any money. It might be a bit difficult to digest. But if they don't bring money back home, this practice will stop sooner or later. So the golden rule is never to give any money to the children.

2. If you feel sad about the situation, try to give the child something to eat. It is very easy to do, because you might be in a Bus Stand, or a Railway Station where there are plenty of snack bars, tea shops etc. Buy a glass of milk or Tea along with few chocolates or some snacks to eat and give it to the child. You will see the difference. If you were giving money to him, he will be hungry still and some one else who runs the whole racket like a business firm will benefit from your kindness.

 3. If you have time (You might be waiting for a Bus or Train) try to have a chat with the child. Be careful, If you are too inquisitive defenitely the child will run away.He has received special instructions from his master to avoid such queries (I used the word master because these children are treated like slaves). If you feel that the child is ill treated please contact some child help line number and report the abuse. These child help line numbers are toll free so you can call them free of cost. One such number is 1098 maintained by a foundation called ChildLine India Foundation.

                     Let Us Give Them a Future, Not Just a Few Coins

If you have any suggestions or corrections please post a comment.