4 th June 2009, Deulbari , W Bengal
Cyclone Relief – West Bengal 2009
The next two days went off similarly. One the 3rd day some senior government officials came to visit the camp and were generally happy with the work that was being done. While discussing they mentioned that there was some local talk that our doctors were not administering saline to the diarrhea patients. Than the doctors and self explained to them that there were several reasons for this kind of talk that was going on. Firstly the doctors said “saline is administered to a patient only when the patient is totally incapable of taking oral medicines and is in a completely dehydrated condition. In such a condition the patient would normally not be able in a walking condition. But in the hundreds of patients that we have treated there has not been a single patient who has needed the assistance of someone to come here or who had to be carried and brought in. Though there were many cases of diarrhea, the patients were well within the critical limits and so the need for administering Saline did not arise at all”. The Doctors also explained that saline was not a treatment for diarrhea, it was only to overcome dehydration and recoup them. Another reason was that there was also a local village quack that had been giving saline to all the diarrhea patients irrespective of their requirement and charging a hefty some for it. This made the villagers believe that all diarrhea patients needed saline administration.
At this point I remember a story often narrated by Amma: Two patients in a hospital were discussing amongst themselves. The first one said what kind of a doctor is he; I told him that I had a tooth ache and he has admitted me and started administering saline. The second patient replied.. arre Bhaiyya at least you had toothache, in my case I am a postman who came to deliver a letter and he got me admitted and put me on saline. Amma was narrating this to highlight the issues of quack Guru’s, but this applies to quack doctors also.
In our case all the medicines were being given free and so the villagers thought that it would not do any harm if they got some saline also free.
Women of the village were friendly and happy that they could tell her their problems without any inhibitions to our lady doctor. Some women underwent diagnosis for breast tumor, others for scabies etc. The last two days the no of patients reduced greatly showing a marked improvement in the health of the villagers, due to the untiring efforts of the medical team.
Intially the stay was difficult but after few days everyone got mentally adjusted to the physical hardships. The heat, the smoke from the raw firewood, the humidity, the mosquitoes, and the occasional rains; especially when we were sleeping in the open, did not deter the will of the devotees and they worked hard steadfastly. When the government officials felt that the villagers were in a better condition health wise they decided to end our stay in Naginabad village in Maipith Aanchal, and decided to move us to another needy village.
So on 4th morning we packed all out stuff and all the leftover provisions etc and had them carried to the place where the launch would dock, as this was the only to reach the other village. It took about three hours just to get the stuff loaded onto the launch before we set forth for our three hour journey. We bid farewell to the villagers and distributed sweets and biscuits to the children. The villagers exhorted us to come back soon. On the way we came across some beautiful scenery with everyone keenly looking out to the Sunderban forest on both sides of the river, in the hope of spotting a famed Royal Bengal tiger.
We reached the new village called as Deulbari and just docked the boat where we could and started offloading the luggage. The villagers were taken surprised with the quantity and variety of our stuff and eagerly helped us carry the goods to the place of work. The roads here were even worse and completely washed away at several points and so most of our goods had to be carried as head luggage over distance of 3 kms to reach our destination –a school building similar to the one at Nagenabad.
– Sadasiva Chaitanya