Our newsletter is called 777. The name arose from an attempt to capture the spirit of the Appeal. Someone suggested, ‘saat, saat, saat’, which in Hindi means ‘together, together, together’, but with a slight twist of the tongue could also mean ‘seven, seven, seven.’
‘We’ means all of us, all together.
In this edition, we focus on two main issues: the expansion of Chingari and the ongoing water crisis in Bhopal. We’re also happy to bring news of an important new documentary film – BHOPALI – a self-funded debut that has already won several awards for its hardhitting presentation of the complex story of the Bhopal disater and its aftermath.
In our previous newsletter, we reported on the trial of the eight Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) ex-employees, charged with causing ‘death by negligence’. The derisory sentences and fines imposed by the court triggered a nationwide outrage. This April, attempts were made to persuade India’s Supreme Court to reinstate the original charge of ‘manslaughter’, which carries much higher penalties. The request was denied.
Welcome to our new-style newsletter which reflects the many changes that have taken place in the last two years – both in Bhopal and in the life of the Bhopal Medical Appeal. We are aware that it’s a long time since our last publication; in future, we’ll be publishing every six months, in order to keep you better informed about the rapidly-expanding activities of the BMA – developments that are only made possible with your continued support.
We are intensely proud of the work of the Sambhavna Clinic and the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre, both of which receive the majority of their funding from the BMA. We celebrate them and their important work in this issue.
As the 25th year of sickness dawns in Bhopal, we look back over the years of struggle for health and a life of dignity, and the courage and spirit of the survivors who have endured two huge onslaughts on their health from the same corporation, whose gases slew them in their thousands and whose chemical wastes are now poisoning them in their tens of thousands. We also tell the story of brave Saira Bi, of the contaminated water of Bhopal. You are invited to join in the fundraising for the 25th anniversary year. As ever we thank our friends and supporters. So many now that it takes an extra page to thank you all.
This newsletter is a massive 32 pager – we have spent the long gap since the last one documenting the epidemic of children born damaged in communities neighbouring the derelict Union Carbide factory.
“What the people of Atul Ayub Nagar didn’t know, because no one had told them, was that the ground on the other side of the factory wall, yards from their houses, was severely contaminated by toxins. A private Union Carbide memo (above) never meant for publication, reports that samples of water taken inside the factory proved instantly fatal to fish. Fish died too, in water to which dry soil samples had been added. The causes? Naphthol (abdominal pain, convulsions, diarrhoea and vomiting) and naphthalene (anaemia, cataracts, retinal damage, liver and brain damage, possible cancer). Carbide had known of the danger since 1989, but it issued no warnings. Its bosses in India and the US watched silently as families already ruined by Carbide’s gases drank, and bathed their kids in, poisoned water.”
Where our last newsletter found its focus in the herbal work of the clinic, the Spring 2006 concentrates on allopathic (modern) medicine. There are articles on the work of the gynaecology clinic, mental health issues, the primary school we have started in the small hamlet of Oriya Basti, as well as news of FC United of Bhopal, the sports club founded for the benefit of children living in the poorest communities.
The special appeal for Mr Mohammed Idris, who was in great need of an operation to repair a hole in his heart, has met with a very warm and generous response. We now have the funds needed for the operation, and the surplus has gone into a fund to provide life-saving operations for those who would otherwise never be able to afford them.
Combined 2005 Newsletter
New Clinic commemorative issue
Because of the size of this newsletter, 32 pages, it was decided to have just one issue this year instead of two, so it’s like a two-in-one.
This issue was designed to give a very full picture of the continuing need in Bhopal, the building and work of the new clinic, and in particular the medicinal herb garden. We follow the work of preparing the garden, planting, harvesting, the making of medicines and their use in ayurvedic treatment.
In this issue too the visit of painter Jeff Stride to Bhopal and details of the forthcoming exhibition in aid of the Bhopal Medical Appeal. Plus of course, a whole year of thank-yous to our excellent friends.