Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Straight from the Heart

Posted on behalf of Nivedita Moitra, Communication Coordinator for Children International in Calcutta, India.

A visit to the communities is always exciting, though for this visit I was a little uneasy. I was going to visit a sponsored father in one of our rural communities who had a heart surgery. On that hot and balmy August afternoon, while walking to their house through a sleepy village, a number of doubts assailed me – would the father be willing to talk? Would he be upset about his medical condition, or would he be offended that I wanted to talk about a matter that was not particularly pleasant?

I was surprised on all accounts. When I met Prasanta, the first thing that struck me was his optimism and positive attitude. He is a warm person who talked to me at length about the major heart surgery he underwent with support from Children International. His gratitude toward CI was palpable and it left me feeling proud to be in an organization that meets the different needs of the sponsored families.

Prasanta is a vendor who sells tasty snacks in his food cart outside schools in his community. He pushes his cart from school to school hawking his wares. The first hint of trouble came to him in twinges of pain and shortness of breath. Soon pushing the food cart became an uphill task and the family income plummeted, as he was the sole breadwinner supporting his wife, son and twin daughters. The future looked bleak for the two daughters who were not in the program. The specter of debt and sliding further into poverty loomed on the horizon.

Two months down the line, this scene has changed dramatically. A smiling Prasanta (Soumik’s father) greeted us with wide smiles and told us that he is back on the job that sustains his family after a heart surgery that required VSD closure and Aortic Valve replacement. To quote him, “Life had handed me a raw deal…but I am so fortunate that my son is in a programme that supports not only my son’s need but shares and meets the concerns and needs of the family too. Had it not been for Children International, it would have been impossible for me to undergo this treatment – and as for my family God knows what would have happened to them, especially my daughters.

“To load my van with food used to be a daily struggle that I had come to dread, not to mention the pushing of the cart, but I knew I had no options if I wanted to feed my family. Life for me had become one long tunnel of pain and despair till we got the great news that Children International would be meeting my medical expenses. Then on, I did everything in my power to ensure that I followed all the medical advice to the letter, because I had to become well for my family,” affirmed Prasanta.

When I complimented him on his positive attitude and told him that he was quite a hero in my eyes, Prasanta quietly corrected me and said, “I am not the hero; for me the real hero is my son’s sponsor, without whom Children International would not be in our lives and I would not probably be alive today”.

After sharing with Prasanta his joy and gratitude towards Children International for putting him back on his feet and as I walked back to the main road where transport was waiting to take me back to the city lights, I wondered at the power of sponsorship that is keeping the hopes and aspirations of many families like Prasanta’s in different countries alive and burning bright.

No comments: