By looking at 12-year old Nisha Singh, a slight child with a wide smile, you wouldn’t guess she’s been walking around with a golf-ball sized stone in her bladder. I cringe just thinking about it.
A few months ago the usually happy girl began having pain when she urinated. Her worried parents spent a fortune for them: 500 rupees-around $7.00- getting her treatment at a private hospital. But the pain got worse. They didn’t know what to do. Then, in a stroke of luck that her mom Hashkua sees as a sign from God, a nephew told them about the Medical Missions Foundation group coming to Bhopal.
“We did not have the finances to pay the public hospital again,” said Hashkua. “This camp was free so I was very happy.”
Nisha is one of a dozen or so children the Medical Missions Foundation team operated on today along with their normally large case load of adults. All of the parents have similar stories. They are farmers and day laborers. They are also moms and dads who care deeply about the well-being of their children.
“These parents love their children and are in a hard place.” said Dr. Pratibha Khare, an Indian-American doctor who helped bring Medical Missions Foundation to Bhopal. “But they don’t have food for the evening meal. They can’t think beyond that. They have no options.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates more than 30 percent of India’s children under the age of five are underweight. Poverty of course leads to undernourished kids. Kids who don’t have a proper diet or enough water to drink are more susceptible to bladder and kidney stones. Because they live in poverty their parents can’t afford to treat it.
That’s why the Medical Missions team here is so desperately needed. “If we did not come most of the people we see would never have surgery, said Dr. Brandon Pomeroy, the surgeon who removed Nisha’s bladder stone.” They would live with treatable and painful conditions until they die. Traveling here is something I can do easily and it’s so important to them.”
You could sense a little extra energy in the hospital today, especially the pre and post-operative area where the nurses and volunteers did everything they could to put the little ones at ease before surgery and gave as much comfort and love to the children and their concerned parents afterwards.
This is also an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves that no matter where we live or how much we have, we share a common love of our children and want the very best for them. We need to help each other.
Nisha’s surgery went well. The stone was removed; they even gave it to Nisha’s mom in a plastic container. I asked what they will do with it but Hashkua says that will be up to her husband.
Understandably, Nisha was in quite a bit of pain after the surgery. She will stay in the hospital for a few days before she goes home to her parents and five sisters.
Her mother explained through translators that she is a simple woman who never went to school, and she doesn’t have big words to describe her feelings. But she wanted me to pass along her gratitude to everyone who made this operation possible. She sends you her blessings.