A Bhopal Diary- Final Week at Sambhavna

f00000856I am in my final week of work at Sambhavna and it is raining. Not that I think the two are related but it has been something like the wettest winter ever and the coldest.
I remember when I went to live in Greece that it was in the wettest winter for something like 80 years and the following year was the coldest for about 50.

 

Maybe they are related.

 

On 19 Feb, I wrote in my diary that it seemed as if my final two weeks were going to be a series of ‘Indian’ days as I had another one today! In the end that day, I did 9 sessions but the first two didn’t come, though Sunil, who should have come at 08:35 and had missed a couple of sessions, came at about 11:30 but had to wait until 13:00 as Anwar and Saligram were on time. Amzad also came at the same time – he had missed two sessions also so I had put someone else in his old slot and had to reschedule him for tomorrow. I rather suspect that he had been pain free but the pain has returned, as I could expect if we haven’t had enough sessions to complete fully. So he came along again saying he felt a burning sensation down the right side of his neck. His symptoms go back a year but flared up a week or so ago.
Then I slotted in Sunil and arranged him for 08:30 tomorrow so he can go to work afterwards. Will he come? Then Shabnam came over to say there was a new patient waiting! Shabiha is a very serious case so I hope we can help in the seven days I have remaining. Her MRI report shows neck and lumbar spine problems with disk desiccation and bulging as well as several other issues.
Surprisingly, the next day everyone turned up on time!
This week, my final before I am off to Vietnam on a course and the ‘Indian’ flavour is getting hotter. Not only that but I have had three new patients this week! I’m not sure what I can do with such little time. However one has not even come for his first appointment.

 

*****

 

Aziza said “you have a patient waiting. An old man.” That ‘old man’, I said is a year younger than I am! That set me to thinking about the appearance of people here because this is not the first time for this sort of remark.
What is it that makes some people ‘older’ than others? Often not just in appearance but also in attitude and behaviour? I would guess that poverty has much to do with it, especially here. Then how about expectation? Lifestyle, family and work, nutrition, opportunity and the way s/he is treated?
Maybe there is an entire book in those thoughts.

 

*****

 

Some more things you might not know
·         it was between 3,000 and 15,000 that died on 3 December, depending on who is counting.
·         that at least another 20,000 have died since as a direct result.
·         that many families had only one parent surviving and some families were wiped out.
·         the compensation went to only 573,588 of the victims. About $500 equivalent each.
·         the compensation works out to 3p if spread to all the people who should have received it.
·         these people will suffer* for the rest of their lives. And some of them are still in their early 30s.
·         about the water pollution because toxic chemicals dumped on and around the site have been washed into the ground water source.
·         that these poisonous chemicals and heavy metals are still being washed into the soil and spreading the water pollution by 200 metres every year.
·         that people still have to drink this water.
·         that babies born to parents exposed to the gas or water are several times more likely than babies in the rest of India to have some form of congenital malformation**.
·         that no-one knows when this inheritance will stop. If ever. Probably never.
·         that Dow Chemical bought UCC in 2001 and refuses to accept any liability.
·         that Dow still will not tell the Indian Government the exact gases to which people were exposed to and their effects on the body.
And it’s raining lots here!

 

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.