Working with Aroehan has been an eye opener for me. Actually, it delivers shocks when I witness the activities.
Aroehan is an NGO. In 2005-06, 169 children below the age of six died in Mokhada due to malnutrition. That led to formation of AROEHAN. It is striving to bring sustainable changes to the tribal communities. I got associated with Aroehan over the last two years.
With Madhuri, Ganesh (who work for Aroehan) and Sulabha, my wife, I went to Kurlod. It is a village consisting of many ‘pada’ or hamlets. Our vehicle took us to Pethecha Pada. Madhuri said that we had to walk to Shedyacha Pada where she had arranged meetings with the villagers. (More about our discussion with the villagers in another blog).
Shedyacha Pada is about two Kms away from Pethecha Pada, but you must cross a river. Pinjal River.
Presently the river does not have much water so one can cross it easily, jumping over the rocks. Then you climb up a tiny hill to Jambhul Vadi. Shedyacha Pada is a little further away. In the monsoon, both these hamlets get cut off completely from Pethecha Pada, putting the villagers’ life at risk in many ways.
We finished our meetings with people at Shedyacha Pada. Sarita and Meenakshi from Aroehan had arranged all meetings. We were walking back to cross the river when two persons approached us at Jambhul Vadi. They had some discussion with Madhuri and Sarita. They looked worried.
“A person is very sick. He must be taken to Hospital immediately. They were asking if he can be taken in our vehicle.”
“What did you say?”
“Yes, I said. If somebody is critically ill, there is no choice.”
“How will they cross the river? Can the patient walk?”
“They will carry him in a hammock. They do it – I mean they have to do it often. Sad. There is no way out!”
We crossed the river. And walked a few steps when Madhuri looked back and said “Look, they are already on the way.”
I turned back. They were crossing the river. It had taken me good time to cross it, balancing my way on the rocks. They crossed it as if it was as smooth as a runway! They walked incredibly fast with a fifty-kilo patient cuddled in their hammock! And barefoot!!
I reached for my mobile and shot the video.
“Where will they go?” I asked Madhuri.
“There is a hospital about twenty Kms away. Our vehicle will take him there and then it will return to pick us up.”
“What happens when the river is in spate during the monsoon?”
“HE decides if the patient must survive or die. No help is available.” She pointed finger to the sky.
“A PHC (Primary Health Centre) unit is sanctioned for us. Since 2014. But it has not come up.” A villager said.
“It will come up soon. We must not lose hope,” another said.
“Till then this river will decide the life and death issues” the villager said.
I was feeling relieved that our vehicle was available for the patient. That it was available was just a coincidence.
We walked our way to the Pada. No word uttered. Feeling helpless. And powerless.
Vivek S Patwardhan
PS: This is a true story. The patient was later shifted to a hospital at Nashik.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”