Roshan is a 40 year man who lives in Lalitpur (All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals). He made his living by working as a labourer. He and his wife Rajni live together with their parents and do not have any children. For many years, Roshan would go to work and return home in the evening without incident. While at work he smoked and chewed tobacco. This practice went on for a long time. But in October of 2016, he felt a stinging pain in his throat. His family was frightened and rushed him to the hospital. After a long treatment, he did not get any relief. He visited many practitioners and they were not able to diagnose his problem. One of the doctors he visited suggested that he go to a specialized hospital in Bhopal because he was not able to swallow food. At this hospital they inserted an NG tube for feeding. In January of this year, he went through a surgery and had a tracheostomy done.
After the surgery, they suggested that Roshan receive chemo therapy. However the cost for this treatment was Rs. 50,000/- and they do not have the money. Because of this, they came back to their home and started treatment at the Government hospital. The Government hospital referred Roshan to H.B.M. and Roshan came to us with his whole family.
Our palliative care program is designed to meet the needs of those who are suffering with terminal illnesses. We offer home care in a 50km radius around Lalitpur. It is our joy to serve and assist those who are suffering in this way with dignity and respect.
After an initial evaluation, we decided to enrol him in our palliative care program. Now we are visiting him frequently in his home and during a visit, we came to know that he and his family are going through a very difficult time. They do not trust each other and because of this, Roshan and his wife are going through an emotional crisis. His parents do not take kindly to his wife because she is unable to bear children. Roshan is worries about his wife’s future after he passes away.
A few weeks ago, his neck started swelling and it was difficult for him to bear the pain. During several visits, we were able to spend some quality time with his wife as well. She was deeply moved during these visits and wept freely. She said that she will have to sell her house after her husband’s death because of her in-laws. She doesn’t know what she will do. We asked her that if she is interested in becoming a shopkeeper and offered to help her to open a small shop so she could support herself after her husband’s death. She was very grateful for this and said she would thoughtfully consider it.
Each week we get the privilege of going to Roshan’s house and to do our best to provide physical and emotional support for him and his family as he nears the ends of his earthly journey. His family happily prays with us at the conclusion of every visit. What a blessing to be able to serve Roshan and his family in this way.
This past year we have had the privilege of working with families in 15 different villages in the Bar Block of Lalitpur District to see transformation take place in every area of their lives.
This village, like each one of our project villages is in a drought-prone area, and many of the population are trapped in a cycle of seasonal distress migration because the land that they have is unable to support their basic food security needs. The CHDP has been working for 3 years to see local communities manage the God-given environment through village level cooperation in land-treatment and agricultural enhancements.
Six farmers from this village all had land, but were not able to use it. Being from backward castes, they had earlier received land by the local Panchayat, but it was unproductive as it was full of rocks. Thus they migrated 6-8 months of the year in order to survive and feed their families.
The Village watershed committee, together with our CHDP staff decided that this land should be rehabilitated during the cash-for-work drought relief that took place during the 2nd monsoonal failure in 2015. A total of 20 acres of land was rehabilitated with rocks being removed, and members of the local community also received the benefits of labor work during this phase.
This year (2016/2017), for the very first time, crops were grown on this land. The good rains allowed the farmers to grow crops of urad, moong (pulses) and makka (maize) during the kharif season. Then, during the rabi season they planted mustard, vegetables and wheat using the SWI (systemic wheat intensification) method. The results were spectacular, with one of them demonstrating that his 10 kgs of grain sown with SWI yielded 8 quintals of wheat harvest! When we first started promoting SWI for wheat, people did not want to use it as it meant more labour intensity. However, we as a team persevered and prayed and were to convince the local famers club members to take up this challenge on their fields.
The results were a blessing with crops being grown where none were grown before. This allowed all these 6 beneficiary farmers in the village to work on their own fields and not go for distress migration this year. Their children are also reaping the benefit of this first harvest as they are now stable students at the village school.
Two ladies, one of them pregnant, came to the HBM hospital one afternoon and were met by Dr. Tony Bishwas.
During the course of the consultation, one of women asked Dr. Tony to do an ultrasound so that they to find out the sex of the child. Dr. Tony shared with her that at the HBM hospital we would not do ultrasounds to find out the sex of the child as it is against our values as Christians – since every child is precious.
Most people want to know the gender of the unborn child so that they can abort it if it is a girl. The Lalitpur district has only 901 women to every 1000 men in the 2011 census, which shows that systematic sex selection and female foeticide has been rampant.
Having concluded their consultation with Dr. Tony, the two ladies left the HBM hospital. But they had scarcely stepped off the premises, when they returned – along with police and government authorities! It was a trap to catch unscrupulous doctors who would tell the gender of the unborn child for money – with the parents performing abortions if the child was a girl! But we passed with flying colours!
The authorities also asked Dr. Tony to show our ultrasound registers – which we were happy to do as the registers were kept up to date. We are glad that the HBM hospital was able to be a witness through passing such an ‘integrity test’ conducted by dummy patients to find out doctors who conduct female foeticide.
As we work together to improve the health profile of the Lalitpur district, we trust that the work of the HBM hospital will be further appreciated by the various government authorities. On a more sober note, we must see a social revolution to see families value girls as much as they do boys. We long for a day when there will be the same number of women in Lalitpur as men! That will only come when everyone treasures girls as being just as much God-created and valued as boys.
The HBM hospital is not only a place for the healing of the body and soul – it is also a place to see the great beauty of creation. And amidst the stately trees that adorn the compound we are blessed with various species of birds.
Will you come along with with us for a quick visit to our own biodiversity park in the middle of Lalitpur town?
We would like to introduce you to probably the largest bird to live on the HBM hospital campus: the Indian Grey Hornbill. We see these handsome birds fly in pairs or singly around the campus in the early morning or just before dusk.
The Indian Grey Hornbills need to be form pairs, because once the breeding season starts, the couple finds a hollow in a tree for their nest. If the hollow is small, they enlarge it and then the female enters in and is ‘enclosed’ using mud pellets and faeces. The birds leave only a small vertical gap open. The female then sheds her feathers and lays the eggs and hatches them in the nest.
The male Indian Grey Hornbill’s task is to keep bringing food. This he does faithfully, passing the food for his mate and the small ones through the small hole that was left in the nest. Eventually, when the chicks have grown large enough to take to the out-doors, the nest is broken by the parents and they fly free.
The female has in the mean-time grown her feathers back and is able to fly again and find her own food. All this while she was helpless inside the nest and dependent on the male’s hard work and careful hiding of her nest from other predators.
What an amazing picture of faithfulness and cooperation as parents. And a real lesson for us as well. The Bible says in one place: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you” (Job 12.7). The Indian Grey Hornbill have much to teach human parents about loving faithfulness to each other and mutual help and cooperation.
So here is another picture of our dear teachers the Indian Grey Hornbill, taken on the HBM hospital campus.
Laxmi (name changed) is from a potter family and was married when she was 14. She lives in a village outside Lalitpur town is now 58 years old and has 2 grown children. A year ago Laxmi found a lump in her breast. She went to a local Baba/healer who told her not to worry as ”everything is OK.” Six months ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a govt hospital and went for treatment to Bhopal but did not start cancer treatment as no guarantee of cure was given. Looking for further cure she went to a doctor in Jhansi who did an ultrasound and told her that ‘there is nothing, you are fine.’
But Laxmi was not fine. The lump grew and became more painful.
In January Laxmi sought help from the HBM hospital and was admitted for a day. Here she came in touch with the Palliative Care team. However, she insisted that she wanted a cure for the cancer. On discharge, Laxmi went back to the Baba. He gave her some oil and guaranteed her that she would get better with it. Two months ago the tumour in her breast burst. Though Laxmi was in pain, she continued to refuse the HBM Palliative Team’s offers for help and instead continued to apply the oil believing it was curing her.
Finally last month the pain grew too much and she agreed to be cared for by our team. The palliative care team cleaned her putrid wound and taught her family how to dress it. They also started her on oral morphine which provided her with a great amount of relief.
Today Laxmi is so grateful for the loving care that she is receiving from the Palliative Care team – and our hope is that we can meet more people like Laxmi – and help them to access care earlier! Working with cancer is hard, especially as there are so many different opinions on what to do, and people often listen to what they believe is best for them.
Thanks to the patient follow-up and loving service of the Palliative Care team, Laxmi and her family today have received precious relief after having spent much on ‘treatments’ and suffering under the lies and deceptions of fraudulent ‘healers.’
The HBM hospital Palliative Care team is there to help. We want to reach out and work with people with life-limiting illnesses as early as possible. Do contact us if you know someone whom you feel needs palliative care.