Emotional tale of a newborn brings safe future for others
Sujan Adivasi and his wife Jasoda, 20, of Jakhnaud village in Pohari block of Shivpuri district were expecting their first child in the year 2016. Sujan’s mother Rajkumari decided not to go to government hospital for Jasoda’s delivery. The reason behind such decision was hospital staff will take atleast Rs 500 for performing delivery which they don’t have. Rajkumari’s decision was accepted by everyone in the family as financial condition of the family was extremely poor. Providing nutritious food to Jasoda during pregnancy was a distant dream as managing sufficient food for each family member was a tough task. There was no Anganwadi centre in the village and closest one was quite far.
It was August 5, 2016 and monsoon season was on its peak in Madhya Pradesh. Entire family of Jasoda used to live in a small hut, where her delivery was conducted amidst heavy rains. Within 3 days after she delivered a girl child Jasoda’s condition deteriorated. The newborn was extremely weak and was severely malnourished. On the other hand Jasoda was shivering and started suffering from breathlessness. It was fourth day after delivery Jasoda died and left 4-day-old severely malnourished child behind her who needed her mother the most.
Jasoda’s husband Bhuvan used to remain out of state in search of work and entire responsibility of taking care of the newborn was on his elderly parents. Rajkumari used to borrow milk from neighbors to feed the newborn. Her condition was worsening with each coming day. When the family was going through this tough time, a social worker visited their hut to know about Jasoda’s health and delivery. Jasoda’s father-in-law Banwari Adivasi informed the social worker about Jasoda’s death and the newborn girl’s condition. Banwari, who himself was a patient of Tuberculosis said his son has migrated to Jaipur in search of work and couldn’t come at the time of delivery as well. On the other hand Banwari and Rajkumari had to struggle to arrange milk for the newborn. There is no one in the house to take care of the girl child as Rajkumari had to leave home every morning for work. Rajkumari works as a labourer and earns some money to feed the family. But since death of Jasoda she had to skip her work for most of the days to take care of the newborn.
Banwari urged the social worker to give the newborn for adoption but when he saw the girl for the first time, he was extremely shocked. The girl was on death bed and giving her for adoption was not possible. Social worker decided to discuss condition of the girl with Block Medical Officer (BMO) who asked him to admit the girl in Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) immediately. Both Banwari and Rajkumari rejected this suggestion and again showed desperation to five away the newborn. Social worker didn’t lose hope and urged the authorities of Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) of government hospital to admit the girl but they refused. However, one of the doctors at SNCU suggested asking Childline Shivpuri to intervene in the case as they can admit an anonymous newborn through them. This gave him slight hope and when he approached Navi Ahmed of Childline Shivpuri he immediately agreed to extend all support.
On August 28, 2016 a senior journalist from Bhopal Sravani Sarkar visited the same village where she met Jasoda’s family. During her visit only Banwari and the newborn were present in the hut. Sravani wanted to see the girl child but couldn’t figure out where the newborn is lying in the hut filled with darkness. When she found the baby lying in the bamboo basket, totally covered with a blanket folded in layers and a totally unused milk bottle placed near her head. In Sravani’s narration “her shriveled chest was heaving unusually and I and the social activist accompanying me could see the fatally bad shape the child was in”.
On same day on August 28, 2016, the girl was shifted to SNCU at around 8.30 pm. With the help of Childline all the formalities of the admission of the girl were done smoothly. But unfortunately the girl couldn’t survive and died on same night. When the case was prominently published by Sravani Sarkar on her portal, the emotional tale received great response. Many people shared the story on different platforms of social media and even raised serious questions over government’s intentions. Social activist also did advocacy on it at Shivpuri district as well and the case was shared with local media persons. The death audit of Jasoda and her girl child was conducted which revealed total negligence of administration being the reason behind their death. The report revealed absence of timely antenatal check up and proper health services being the reason behind the deaths.
District collector of Shivpuri also took cognizance in the case and almost after 2 years an order was released to start an Anganwadi centre in the village itself. The collector also ordered to conduct camps for TB in the village every month.
Media’s intervention helped in getting an Anganwadi centre in the village. After Sravani’s report journalists from Hindustan Times, Delhi and NDTV also made a visit in the village and covered the case prominently.
Pix: Women’s group activity in field area