Perils of the Village
It is 11:10 p.m. when an 8 year old Dukhanadan is brought from a small village about 12 miles away.
It is 11:10 pm when 8 year old Dukhanadan is brought in from a small village about 12 miles away. He is cold, clammy and scared. His heart is racing at about 158 beats per minute and he has severe pain in the left big toe where he was stung by a scorpion about two hours ago.
His father is also scared. Father and son were brought by another villager who had them sitting on the back of his motorcycle. Dukhanadan’s father tells of his child who suddenly started crying as he was moving about in the house where the only light there was a small lamp hanging from the ceiling of their thatched hut.
The child was immediately put in the ICU and administered medication to start calming him down.
Similarly, 8 year old Manjeet was brought into the ICU at about 2:00am, frothing from the mouth and taking his last few breaths. He was in shock and unconscious, cold and clammy with a heart rate of 186 per minute. The child was also immediately put in the ICU, a tube put down his trachea, and placed on a ventilator.
Manjeet’s father, Mahendra, was petrified as he told of his child being bitten by a scorpion in their thatched roof house at 6:00 pm. He was first taken to a local healer who gave him some medicines. The father was told that his child would be well and so he took him back home. About 11:00 pm, the child started to get cold and his heart was racing. His parents saw that he was very ill. They did not know what to do and so they woke up a friend who had a motor bike and quickly drove the child to the government hospital in Mungeli. The doctor took a while to get there but when he saw the sick child he refused to take in the child as he was too sick. The doctor gave Mahendra a note and told him to go to the district hospital 40 miles away, but the doctor also told him that his only realistic hope was to come to the Mission Hospital in Mungeli as the child was about to die.
That is exactly what Mahendra did. They rushed into the hospital at about 2:00 am just before the child stopped breathing. It has been 8 days since Manjeet was admitted. He had a tracheotomy on the second day of admission and was ventilated for about four days before he could breathe on his own. His life was in grave danger but slowly he has improved. Now he is able to leave the ICU to see the world outside. His parents are at rest knowing that their son is doing much better and will live.
This is the story of Mungeli and the story of what it is to live in poverty, where even the house you live in is not safe for your own children. It is a society where people who are poor and uneducated look for the easiest way out. At times there are local healers that stand at the doorstep waiting to make a little money, not caring about the life that is at stake.
We in Christian Hospital, Mungeli, see this happening every day. We wonder what it will take to make a permanent change. Surely this cannot keep happening forever. In 2004, we lost 8 children a year due to scorpion stings because they were brought in too late. Now we are proud to say that we may lose only one child a year.
We have hope because people are getting educated. The number of scorpion bites and snake bites has not decreased, but the fact is that people are learning through word of mouth that it is important to go to the hospital if they want to survive.
We are thankful for what this hospital is able to do and the witness that we are able to give to the people around Mungeli by showing them God’s love through service. Yes, there is hope in this community because not only the hospital but also a school educates people about how to take care of themselves. We are making a change as slowly but surely, through the blessings that we receive.
Anil works with the Synodical Board of Health Services of the Church of North India. He serves as a medical doctor at the Christian Hospital in Mungeli, India.