Paediatric Camp January 2013

Returning consultant provides sensitive and expert care for children in the local community.

On the morning of the 4th of January 2013, visiting Haven members and volunteers from Kolkata accompanied Dr Bimal Bhadhuri aboard the 6am train from Howrah Station to make the journey to Atla Village. A highly qualified consultant Paediatrician based in the UK and with many years of experience handling very ill children, Dr Bhadhuri was making his second visit to the Haven Centre to volunteer his medical expertise. Canvassing for patients for the Paediatric camp, scheduled for the 4th and 5th of January, had begun early in November 2012 and thanks to good organisation by MBCF Manager, Ashis Dutt, all patients had been screened and profiled in advance. Long queues of expectant faces greeted us upon our arrival at the centre, queues that had begun from the early hours of dawn with many of the patients and their families travelling considerable distances. 

Despite the gruelling early morning start and the long train journey, Dr Bhadhuri worked tirelessly right through to the evening seeing as many children as possible. Dr Bhadhuri's considerate and caring consultations allowed all the patients to feel completely at ease, which, in turn, allowed him to make a faster diagnosis and more accurately decide the best course of treatment for each case. The MBCF Medical staff provided excellent back up and were of great help; armed with their local knowledge Gopal, MBCF Pharmacist, and Rita, MBCF Nurse, were able to quickly and efficiently look after the patients following their consultations and help them to understand the correct dosage of any medications that had been prescribed by Dr Bhadhuri. 

A comprehensive databank containing all patient records, including referral requests, resulting from all of our medical camps was first created three years ago and has been painstakingly kept up to date since then. For this Paediatric camp, the very important task of collecting and organising all new patient information into the databank was taken up by MBCF volunteer Bandana. Haven would like to thank Bandana for travelling all the way from Kolkata and putiing in her time to keep our databank completely up to date.

A welcome break in the middle of the day consisted of a wonderful performance of song and dance enjoyed by all who were present. The young MBCF volunteers had put in many hours of rehearsal and their efforts paid off, the performances were brilliant and colourful. Our traditional "magic circle" formed once again in the open central courtyard around the children with disabilities, who were visiting the centre for the day. The children from our Learning Centre along with visiting Haven and MBCF members held hands to form a moving ring of bodies all dancing to the beat of the music. A lovely scene to watch and the children's smiles say it all!

Bearing in mind the long distances travelled by many of the patients and how long a day it would be before they got back home, a delicious vegetarian lunch was prepared for all the patients and their families on both days. The Learning Centre children, who receive a free lunch everyday, joined in for their meal the same time.

Haven would like to thank the members of the MBCF Youth Group who, with their new found sense of style and panache, not only served everbody with care, they also managed to inject a great deal of fun into the lunchtime meals. Haven distributed new winter uniforms to the children in our Learning Centre; carrying bulging carrier bags filled with their new wares they were ready for hometime. But just then, the two teachers made a grand claim to a visiting Haven member that all the children had been taught by both of them to say "Happy New Year" in perfect English. Well, this just had to be tested and, with the two teachers watching rather nervously, the visiting member soon had the children lined up so that one by one they could say the greeting they had learnt to her. Whether it was the hug she gave each child (they are all very cute!), or the chocolate she held out that gave them the courage, we will never know. But, to their credit, they all managed, even the very shy ones, albeit the greeting sounded more like "Huppy Nooo Yaah"!

The next morning on the 5th of January, Dr Bhadhuri began to see patients from 7am and did not stop till the early afternoon.  Over the two days, 85 very ill children, from families living in abject poverty with no access to any affordable healthcare in the surrounding area, received the very best possible care from a most sensitive specialist. There were five referrals and Haven will ensure all follow up treatment will be funded and carried out within the next ttwo months. Haven is indebted to Dr Bhadhuri for his generosity and kindness; his gentleness and patience will long be remembered by all of the children he helped. 

Our biggest thanks, as always, are reserved for the MBCF Staff members and the volunteers who provide the vital support so necessary for all of Haven's activities on the ground in rural West Bengal.


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