I met with Poornima Goswami, Ahana's grandmother and Mrs. Ratna Hiranandani at Jaslok Hospital yesterday. The meeting lasted for an hour. Mrs. Hiranandani said it was best I speak with Poornima and proceeded to call her to her office.
I did tell Poornima I was part of Shyaam and Aparna's team (gave both my card) but she gave me all the case details of her own volition, many of which I was already aware of, but it was cathartic for her and I let her speak. She frequently broke down and provided information from her daughter's past but spoke lucidly enough about the present and future as well. Here are details from our conversation (some of which we may already know). Not all may be relevant at present time, but may give us a clearer larger picture:
1. Ahana's only caregiver in the city is Poornima. Her father abandoned the family when she was a year old and now lives in Delhi and has no contact with them.
2. Ahana was helped by Dr. Devashish Vishwas when she was born in Durgapur, West Bengal. Dr. Vishwas, from what I gathered, practices in Calcutta. When in Bombay with her mother, Ahana used to receive physiotherapy at the cerebral palsy centre in Vashi, but that had to stop due to the family's financial constraints. They even had to move homes because they could not afford the Rs.6000 rent they were paying. Money was tight, but Anindita was aiming to be promoted to a managerial position in order to draw a higher salary and would put in long hours at work. She was eventually promoted but shortly after, was murdered. Reliance, her employers, gave the family Rs 9 lakhs as life insurance. The amount was doubled as it was a case of accidental death (at least that's the phrase Poornima used). She will need to access Anindita's provident fund account in 6 months' time.
3. A lady called Nemat Jabbar has been helping Poornima and Ahana after reading about them in the news. She just showed up in their lives and has helped them by putting them in touch with Dr. Shilpa Aloskar and Dr. Nitin Kadam at MGM Hospital, Vashi. The hospital did not charge her for their services and Poornima voluntarily gave them Rs. 41,000 from the funds she has received. An unused apartment at Mahim was offered to them but Poornima has decided she will stay close to Nemat while she is in Bombay after all she has done for them.
4. In addition to the Rs 9 lakhs that have been received and invested in Ahana's name, Poornima mentioned that she received Rs. 5000 from numerologist Sanjay Jumani, which she used to pay rent. One nurse for Ahana is being provided by Sonu Nigam, who has promised that he will continue to pay for a nurse wherever in the world Ahana may be relocated. The 2nd nurse's fees are split by Vikas Nandlal and Nemat Jabbar, with Poornima contributing to the shortfall, if there is one. Ahana has received a nebulizer and body splints. No further cheques have come in at this time. Mithun Chakraborty has promised help once they arrive in Kolkata. Poornima repeatedly expressed gratitude for help given by complete strangers. Mrs. Hiranandani said that expenses are mounting, so they would be grateful for any aid they receive from donors or Poornima herself.
5. Financial aid received has been used to purchase the following equipment for Ahana: 1. suction machine 2. oxygen cylinder. Poornima has ordered a wheelchair from a certain Mr. Joshi (she said she couldn't remember details like his company's name at the moment) for Rs. 7000. It has special straps that will hold her in place, an attached pot, and a high back so she can use it even as she grows taller. This wheelchair is being paid for by Poornima herself.
6. Medically, her situation stands thus: She currently has high fever and the surgery she was to undergo has been pushed to next week to give her body time to recuperate. Her team of doctors at Jaslok comprises of Dr. Anahita Udwadia Hegde and Dr. Fazal Nabi. Mrs. Hiranandani contacted Dr. Nabi to have him attend our meeting but he was out of the hospital at the time. I spoke with him and he said he would be back 2 hours later and could meet with me then. I had to get his number and let him know I'd get back to him about a meeting since I was due to head back to work very shortly. We will need to call him very soon and set up a meeting.
In the future:
7. Poornima acknowledges that the facilities and aids she receives in Bombay may not be duplicated in Kolkata, but plans to move there eventually. She is the sole caregiver at this time and will fare better with family support.
8. Dr. Udwadia Hegde has a doctor friend in Kolkata and has informed Poornima that she will be referring the case to her. One of Ahana's nurses, Ranjana, has developed a good rapport with her and plans to assist the family's transition to Calcutta by travelling with them, settling them in and supervising the training of the new local nurse. Poornima mentioned taking a train to Cal, at which point I suggested flying, given Ahana's condition and the risk of medical emergencies on a 36-hour train ride. Perhaps if we could seek donors for 3 flight tickets to Calcutta and one back (for Ranjana, who Poornima refuses to send back alone by train) it would ease the burden on them.
9. If an IH member in Kol can pick up the case and coordinate when they arrive, it would further aid their transition. As of this time, Ahana's health has to stabilize and physiotherapy resumed when possible. I mentioned Dr. Nasreen's offer to Poornima and she was glad to hear about it.
10. Set up a meeting with Dr. Nabi to assess medical situation and possibilities for assistance.
11.Get specific aid for medical expenses, post operative care and the wheelchair.
Pray. Poornima and Ahana need all the help they can get. It took all my social work training to reign in my emotions and not let them rule the moment. I would like to put in a request to remain on this case for at least as long as Ahana is at Jaslok, as I believe I have established a positive bond with Poornima and Mrs. Hiranandani in particular, who was very warm and responsive when I departed.
That's it from my end.
Edited to add: Kind souls who would like to help out please do email us at email@example.com.
We are seeking sponsors for three air tickets to Kolkatta and one return ticket to Mumbai.
As also funds to offset expenses incurred at Jaslok.
Anyone based in Kolkata who could offer any sort of assistance when they do relocate, please do write in too.
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