Sunday, November 29, 2009

26/11: Looking Back, Looking Ahead 4

Sangeeta Irani, India Helps member, is our straight-talking,fund-raising whiz. With over 20 years' experience in communications, this president of an ad firm checks the veracity of India Helps cases by making home and hospital visits, actively raises funds and, in her own words, tries to help victims lead a better life. This is her piece:

It could have been me, no one was safe. These were my first thoughts. As I watched them attack my city, my country, I changed. I was angry and I wanted to do something that proved that those cowards failed. If they thought we would be scared they were wrong. This country, its people will only help each other and come out stronger. That is all.

I started alone in the wards of the JJ hospital, meeting victims and talking to doctors. I soon realized that alone was not enough. This needs people who give time, not just money. Along the way, I found India Helps. We started with 26/11 and have now morphed into something larger. India Helps has only had to post an appeal and people across the world help with money and time.

I met Poonam Singh and her husband Santosh Singh. Poonam was injured with bullets at CST and had lost mobility. I went to a slum at Vikhroli and it was hard. Hard to understand how people lived with so little and were so content. We got Dr. Vaibhav Patil to give generously of his time to give Poonam and conduct physiotherapy at her home. We mobilized financial help so that the family could move to the base of the slum. This means Poonam would not need to climb uphill. Her knee still buckles sometimes, but she walks. Sachin, her son has lost movement in a finger and we are in the process of finding a solution. I am happy when I hear Poonam is walking, or that the Taj Trust is training her.

I have a lot to be grateful for, including a family that does not grudge the time I put in. This one year has taught me that life is unpredictable. However, how we react is up to us. Most of all, I have the satisfaction of knowing - it is possible to actually step out and help. That I have met a bunch of lovely people at India Helps is a bonus.

For me, 26/11 is the day we got angry. It’s the day they failed to shatter our fortitude.

Sangeeta Irani


Case Update

The Singh Family

1. Name of the deceased/ injured, occupation and approximate monthly earnings at the time of the casualty:

Poonam Singh - 34 years old
Sachin Singh – 7 years old

No one died in this case, but they were injured – enough for life to change for the family. Poonam is a housewife and a mother to 4 children. She therefore cooked, cleaned the home, got water, washed clothes and is a mother and a wife. Poonam earns nothing but if anyone else had to do her work it would cost the family.

Sachin is a student.

(ii) Where did the casualty occur:

At CST station. Poonam was with her son and was going to her father's village to attend a function. Both Poonam and Sachin were injured. Sachin heard some noise and ran, Poonam ran to get him. She was hit by bullets and was unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she was immobile and at JJ hospital. Sachin was also at the hospital.

(iii) Dependents (number and details):
Husband Santosh Singh and 4 children, including Sachin

(iv) Details of the situation at that time:

IH met her first at the JJ Hospital on the day she was leaving. She was the last 26/11 case at JJ . It was February and she was not able to walk independently. The doctors told her that with therapy, she would walk eventually . In the interim she would start with a walker, do physiotherapy . Poonam lived in a slum on a slope and walking on a hilly area was a daily affair. The inability to walk meant she could not move out of the 5x5 foot home- not even to the communal toilets.

Her daughter missed school and between the husband and the daughter they managed the home. The daughter missed out on over 3 months of school and thus lost a year in education. At eleven, she also lost her childhood.

Sachin seemed fine but post 26/11 Santosh Singh said his son was rebelling and not listening to them as much as before. He also lost mobility in one finger and has a visible big bump on left hand .

(v) IH contact:

Sangeeta Irani

(vi) Details of help/ support provided by IH:

Donated a Walker, paid a visit to her home at Vikhroli. Networked to get her a doctor who could come to the slum to teach her the required exercises. Godrej Hospital did that twice and then we got Dr. V. Patil who comes once a month and helps the family. India Helps promised to help with increased rent if the family found a home at the base of the slum, as this would help Poonam walk more and hence recover faster.

IH asked and generated support for 11 months of rent and reimbursement for a few medical bills. We are now helping with doctor visits and x-rays for Sachin . We are seeking a second opinion to figure if we can revive the finger. We will also seek guidance for plastic surgery and be with the family through the process.

(vii) Media coverage:

(viii) Present situation:

To assist with the direction of Sachin's treatment; Poonam to continue the physiotherapy; provide monetary help for part payment of rent for a year.

(ix) Status of the case:

Help continuing until Nov. 2010

Part payment of rent for a year for Poonam Singh. To review her case after a year.

Payment for medicines as required .

Surgery and doctor consultation fees, X-rays etc for Sachin.

(x) Future requirements:

For Sachin, surgery as required

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