We began our 5 days of clinics with an unexpected treat. We came to care and we were cared for. Before we even started the day’s clinic, each of us had a garland placed around our neck by the children that we were to eventually see. Grace. Freely given, humbly received.
We were at The Life Center Academy which is a Christian run school located in at Satya Nikethan in New Delhi. It is located in an urban area but surrounded by many slums, that comprise of Ardak Pur Gaon, Nanakpura, Vasant Gaon, Bapu Dham, Sanjay Camp, Indira Colony, Tank Jhuggi and Shastri Market
The total population of the area is approximately 50,000 consisting over 10,000 families. More than 25% of the population in these slums falls below the poverty line and of these approximately over 40% of the children have no access to any kind of education.
The Life Center Academy’s primary aim is to cater to these children and help provide them with an education which they would not be able to avail of under regular circumstances. The Academy also has a special school where they take care of children with special needs. These children who are in the special school have certain disabilities like mental retardation, hearing disabilities and speech disorders, autism etc. Due to these disabilities, these children are not able to attend regular classes and the special school tries to help the child develop so that in future they can be integrated into the main school. This is one of the few projects in our 22 countries where a formal special needs program is established.
We worked long and non stop, breaking for 45 minute to grab a Chinese lunch, then back to work. The team worked together as if they had been doing this over and over again. smooth, cooperative, collaborative, and supportive. This clinic is to be the easiest of the 5 that we are going to run. The children for the most part were relatively healthy, but malnutrition effects almost 40% of them, We did a comprehensive nutritional assessment using a computer program on each child calculating their nutritional status. We learned that visual impressions are not what they seem. The most healthy child, turns out to be moderately malnourished. A fact that can go missed, giving that child the chance of delayed development, and possibly an early death. As a result of the assessment, I'll be putting together a comprehensive nutritional rescue program that will make as diffidence in the childrens lives within 6 months of taking part in it.
And the stories. Most are happy ones. Abandoned children who were found, rescued and cared for. Then there are the sad ones. To share the sad stories time after time, makes it seem like I single them out, but they do tell the harsh reality of life here. Like the 11 year old girl, who was found in a part of the city known for prostitution, and brought to MoM. She came to us today complaining of abdominal pain, and was seen by one our medical staff. I took her aside, and with a female interpreter, gently asked her some questions that would help me in determining if she was sexually harmed, and if she had a sexually transmitted disease. She tearfully shared her story, not one that I need to repeat, but simply to tell you that she is now being treated and will be counseled and loved as she should be. I held her for a very long time. She will do well. Grace. Freely given. We start again tomorrow.