Time for another NCF Outreach, the eighth spent working in Nagpur with our partners, the Rotary Club of Nagpur West.
Much work has already been done in the UK mobilising a team of over 50 doctors, nurses and volunteers to travel to India to provide free corrective cleft surgery to children who otherwise could not afford such care. Whilst the team, equipment and specialist knowledge flies east, patients are assembling in Mure Memorial Hospital ready to be assessed for potentially life changing surgery.
The Rotary Club has spent months since our last visit advertising the Outreach and working with local medical agencies so that information about the NCF and the work that it does is cascaded as widely as possible.
Many of the children we see live in villages with few amenities, remote from city life and from information that could potentially help them. Accessing these communities to give children living there better life chances requires a multi faceted approach and much dedication – we are fortunate to work with partners whose commitment ensures such successful outreaches.
Manchester-Dubai, Dubai-Mumbai, Mumbai-Nagpur – a long journey for the team made better by a great welcome. Work starts the day after. The pre-op clinics are long with many families having travelled hundreds of kilometres to be seen.
Many children are anaemic and tiny for their age – the combination of poor diet and worm infestations take their toll. We hope to be able to address this issue from next year by treating children with Iron supplements and anti-worm medication prior to them being seen for assessment by the team. Such treatment is cheap, effective and will make a huge difference to their well being.
During the course of the Outreach over 100 operations are carried out bringing the total number performed by the charity since its inception to nearly 1400. Quite an achievement!
Part of the joy of returning to Nagpur is to be able to see the children who were operated on last year and to follow their story…
Rudra was eighteen months when he came to have his cleft lip repaired in 2015. It was almost impossible to recognize him as he looked so different this year – all grown up with barely a trace of his operation scar.
He had returned to have his cleft palate operated on this time; just as important a procedure. Clefts of the palate cause feeding difficulties, problems with hearing, due to recurrent ear infections, nasal regurgitation and difficulties with speech. Time and again older children with cleft palates have told us that their main concern was an inability to be understood due to problems with articulation leading to teasing and poor self esteem.
It is great to know as we say goodbye to Rudra this time that he has a brighter future as a result of his corrective surgery.
Rudra was one of many children who returned for palate surgery having had their lips done last year –remember Lucky? Such a character and now as big as his twin brother – have a look at how he is doing on Smile Stories.
Within a day of our arrival, Mure Memorial Hospital is a hive of activity. The theatres, recovery area and wards are full of children and their families. Usually the hospital is quiet; the old mission hospital has seen better days and is in need of some TLC.
The NCF wants to be able to address some of the most pressing issues affecting the operating theatres in particular, to ensure safety is maintained for all concerned, so this year will see a fundraising drive to try to raise money to improve some of the infrastructure.
The conditions are basic, very different to those in the UK and much of the equipment is brought from home. However, this does not daunt the team; David Laraway, one of the surgical trainees who came out to Nagpur this time wrote of his experience. “We also brought hope and enthusiasm, bags full of toys and clothes, and love for the work and the children.
“All day every day we would work. 12 hours a day for the duration of the trip. No-one complains. Out of that hospital came a stream of new smiles, new voices, and new hope for the future for these most impoverished of children.”
The bags of toys and clothes really do make a difference. Seeing a child’s face light up when given a colouring book or a teddy shows just how much the small things matter. Many of these children have never owned their own toy; some have never seen crayons! Blowing bubbles is a magic prescription guaranteed to take the mind off having a wound cleaned or waiting to go into theatre and having a smiley balloon is the best thing ever!
Eight days of operating and changing lives. The team have had little chance to experience India but they have the gratitude of parents like those of Atinesh who had his cleft lip repaired on this outreach.
His Mum told us “We have never seen this kind of treatment before. We are so very happy with all of the team.”
Another outreach over and work begins on organizing the next one in 2017. None of this would be possible without a dedicated, enthuisistic team who work tirelessly to see all the children who the Rotary Club of Nagpur West have brought to Mure Memorial Hospital. Nor would it be possible without the support of a great many people who donate and fundraise for the charity.
This year new initiatives mean we need funds more than ever. Every penny really does help. Thanks for showing an interest in the charity. We couldn’t do it without you!
Donating is easy. Just a couple of clicks can help to change a life.