Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Starving patient at our clinic

Monday, 17 May, was our last clinic day til it opens again 2 June. One of the patients Monday I remembered from a few weeks ago. I remembered her because, although younger than I, she is ancient, almost unable to walk. When she came in Monday, I asked the doctor to see her on the bench in the waiting room where she was lying. To make a long story short, the diagnosis was malnutrition - "poverty." I was so upset to find that there was no food bank here. No place to go for food. When I told the other women working with me, they surmised, because her brother brings her to the clinic, that she was a widow who had come to stay with her brother, where she is probably expected to do all the work and eat what is left over, if any.

Starvation is a very bad way to die (or live, for that matter).

This is where cultures clash badly for me. I wept and expressed my outrage. We talked about the pitfalls of doing a food bank here. Then, I started the whole conversation again with Gopal when I got home. We have to do something about food for the very poor here. So, we're going to find out if anyone is doing anything we don't know about, and maybe we can help there, or help get the word out, and learn what may be standing in the way of access. Religion and caste could be two reasons why a food bank may not be accessible for some people, for example.

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