As result of Kabir’s illness last month, we fell short of teachers in senior school, but saw it as a window of opportunity to travel. So for three days, our older students visited schools and health centres in KG Halli, on Nagavara road in north Bangalore.
In my role as a doctor, I have been working in the urban health project of the Institute of Public Health with this community of 42,000 people since 2008.It would be described as a low income melting pot of humanity with three languages and three religions represented in 0.7 square kilometres of city space. It was interesting to see the context afresh through the eyes of these twelve young teenagers.
They had the opportunity to visit, with the field staff, Ms. Nagaratna and Ms. Leelavati three schools, where they interacted with students of classes five, six and seven. Some visited homes of people in these crowded lanes along with Dr. Mrinalini and all got a detailed tour of the Sarvagnya dialysis centre with Dr. Triveni and Jomon, the manager of the unit.
There shared their experiences with the students and some parents at Shibumi through a slide presentation with pictures and stories as well as a poem and essays which some of them wrote. The interaction was a rich with questions and answers and Ms. Nagaratna travelled across the city to attend.
Some comments from the experience:
“The streets were crowded and the lanes narrow, often we had to be careful to avoid stepping on garbage.”
“The classrooms were a quarter the size of our library and there were 40 children in the class!”
“The children were very creative in what they made from the newspaper rolling activity. I had never done it before, but I learned along with them.”
“It was clear that children were not used to asking for help or helping each other in the class, but were quick to respond when we encouraged it”
“In the big school there were 1, 500 children! And that was the only school in the ward with a playground!”
“Many looked like they came from poor families, but most understood English quite well !”
“It reminds me of my old school, where they would hit the kids.”
“It seemed clear they did not get to play games often, and they enjoyed prolonging the game. But they are so used to being instructed they could not think for themselves”
“The patients were so young in the kidney dialysis unit, and many very poor. And their old parents had to support them, because they cannot earn a living.”
“So is the diabetes caused because they eat too much sweets?”
“We found people did not know that you must control your diet in diabetes.” “And sometimes they would not buy medicines regularly because there is no money for it.”
“There was a boy from Bidar who had to live alone in a room in the city because there is no place close to home he can do this.”
And the one that touched me profoundly. “Roopa Aunty, How many years did you work in KGHalli?”
Me: “Five years, half the week. Why do you ask? “
“I didn’t sleep last night, thinking about it.”
You can also read the essays and poem written by the Isauras in response to the trip.