At one of our clinics in Kolkata, the families of the children whom we treat, have formed a small help-group, where they discuss their problems, and exchange tips on how to look after the children and specifically care and maintain of the plasters and foot braces; and how to multi-task, since most of the mothers are left alone to care for the babies at home, and do the housework. While at the clinic, every Tuesday, they help each other by getting the photocopies which the doctors need, and sharing the food brought from their homes. It was one of the grandmothers from this group, who told us that there was a young mother and an extremely flustered grandmother with a tiny baby with clubfoot in the waiting room. They had seen the doctor but the doctor refused to treat the baby, saying that she was too young for treatment, and that they need to return in two months. The mother, adamant on meeting a more experienced doctor, refused to go back home until she got a second opinion.
That was when our District Program Coordinator met her. The mother and grandmother required a bit of convincing to enrol in our clinic. The grandmother explained that her daughter had been suffering from jaundice while she was pregnant, and the baby (Mishti) was born prematurely. The mother was still recovering, but wanted to ensure that the treatment was going to start at the correct time. We learned that Mishti was barely two and a half weeks old when we enrolled her (she hadn’t even been named yet, we all used her nickname), the father was unable to come to the hospital because work was a priority, and the family had temporarily shifted to the city to start treatment.
We counselled them on the treatment, and assured them that we would be there for the entire process, and all they needed to do, was come to the clinic every Tuesday, take care of the plaster and be aware of any issues which might pop up. If there was an issue, we would guide them on how to fix it. The grandmother accompanied her daughter and her grandchild on each visit. After the first plaster, we saw much improvement. On her fourth visit, we were able to give her the Foot Abduction Brace (FAB). She has been coming regularly, and both the mother and daughter are doing well. Now, even the father accompanies them at times. They have also been able to give her a name: Sangina Khatoon.