Day 2 – December 21

After the first days successes, Fili and I found ourselves a little better prepared for the second day. We went in to Nai Disha’s administrative center (which had been the original site for the school until they’d gained so many kids, they had to move their class sessions to a government school nearby) and spoke with Sangeeta maam about the kids’ access to medical services. Sangeeta maam tells me that Nai Disha has always been more concerned about this because they value holistic support and fortification of their students. And since Dr. Daga, a professor of medicine at a university in Delhi, is one of the founders and board members of Nai Disha, it seems natural that Nai Disha has had a special interest in the health needs of their students.

What’s at first a simple question regarding the mysterious ambulance program, turns into an interview about Sangeeta maam’s opinion Nai Disha and its position in providing the students basic medical checkups and how far Nai disha has come in reaching i
ts goals. Apparently only a year or so after the inception of the program, a student, who was well-liked, abruptly stopped coming to school. When the absence grew prolonged, Sangeeta maam and others inquired the family and found out that the girl had died. This event had apparently spurred the organization to search for and implement some basic checkup schedule, which would give some warning to the administrators and family members that students are ill. Since the girl had died of TB, there was an additional scare of risking other students to exposure.
Nai Disha succeeded in enlisting Shakuntala Singh and her mobile medical van. She comes every other week with an intern from a local medical college and they distribute vitamins and cold medicines and mild antibiotics for certain problems. They keep track of what they’ve given and the medical history on yellow cards that they pass to the kids and take back from the teachers –the whole system seems to work out all right. I’ll get to meet them
on Wednesday.
In class today the kids are much more excited and attentive, since they know me and Fili a little more. The night before, Fili and I had blasted out a plan that included simon says and the body parts, the nutrition diamond or pyramid, drawing healthy meals and lunchboxes, introduction of the tobacco avoidance material (because it would be easier
with a hindi speaker around), and forming a presentation on tobacco avoidance. We start out with a recap on nutrition and surprisingly the kids have remembered Salman Khan and
protein and breads and carbohydrates — in fact, while they’re shoving kaddi and chawal into their mouths before class, they tell “hey look didi (sister) im eating daal, im eating protein, im gonna have muscles like Salman Khan.”

They get bored of the review and I introduce the Simon says game and they start hoping around and accusing each other of being out. We eventually break for the tobacco avoidance portion of the day.
Surprisingly all the kids are very familiar with the notion that smoking and using tobacco is harmful for you and that it causes cancer. In fact one of the kids explained that his mother had died because of tobacco related cancer. They don’t seem phased though. I give them a sheet drafted by the Public Health Foundation of India and have them the read it in English and then translate it back to me in Hindi so that I know they’ve understood. While Fili is here, we get them to organize a small presentation. I pick Muskan and Jyoti to narrate because I want to make them feel like they’re important contributors to class and education–and since their parents will see this presentation, I want them to know that their girls are worth educating. I make sure everyone has some sort of part, but Fili and I can’t get Devashish or Kanchan to participate – I don’t force them or anything or make them feel bad, it’s their choice and maybe they have a really good and terrible reason not to want to participate.
By the end of the day, Fili and I are exhausted but smug–we’d finished everything we’d set out to accomplish for the day. I’m sad that I’ll be losing Fili to a wedding–but I hope that since the kids have gotten used to me, they’ll be good for the rest of the week.