Monday, November 30, 2009

26/11: Looking back, Looking ahead 7

Dilnavaz Bamboat, Pediatric Therapist and Pre-School Educationist, is one of the pillars of India Helps. Always committed to giving her time, her energy to any case, she brings to the team a vibrancy and optimism, tempered with a quirky turn of phrase that spreads cheer. She has worked with Balaji Kharatmal, made home visits to the Ansaris (a family which lost six members at CST) and hand held Purnima Goswami (grandmother of Ahana Mishra, a special child and a non 26/11 case) through Ahana's troubled hospitalisation in Jaslok. Here's what she has to say:

Doesn't time heal all wounds? Not this one. One long year and the misery is alive and fresh, as if November 26, 2008 were yesterday. In the mass funeral that was the date and three days after, our spirits were burned alive and I, for one, am still maimed. What has changed, though, is my ability to sleep at night, knowing that I didn't just criticize, mope and move on. Whether it was picking my way through winding slum alleys to hunt down victims' families or holding a sobbing grandmother while she mourned the fate of her abandoned, disabled grandchild, I used addled head and broken heart to help the best way I knew. The bigger tragedy, often, is not doing one's bit, and thanks to our wonderful team at India Helps, I could plop my teeny drop into the ocean. Life changes when newspaper stories morph into real people with faces and needs and long-lasting ties, and this is a change I will continue to embrace in the days ahead, as I have this past year. So tell me again, whom have YOU helped today?

Dilnavaz Bamboat

Pediatric Therapist

Lavanya Karthik, Environmental planner and writer, was among the first to make home visits to the victims, even before India Helps became a team. She, along with another team member visited the home of Bhanu Narkar with groceries and help. She also visited Balaji Kharatmal and has been checking on his wellbeing periodically.


Balaji Kharatmal

Balaji Kharatmal was injured in the firing at CST station on 26 November 2008. His mother, who was boarding a train with him was killed.

Balaji was taken to JJ hospital, where he was treated for shrapnel wounds . He still has shrapnel throughout his body, which cannot be removed. Formerly an auto driver, he is now employed as a sweeper with the Central Railways.

His immediate dependents included his wife and two children, though he was formerly supporting an extended family of over 11 people.

Balaji received Rs 50,000 in compensation for his injuries, and Rs. 5 lakh for his mother. A Mumbai based NGO stepped in to fund his children's education.

India Helps volunteers gave him about Rs 2000 for immediate cash expenses. He was also taken for a check up with a senior doctor, and helped in filing paperwork to claim additional compensation, and aid from the Taj Trust.

Bhanu Narkar

Employed as a watchman at the Cama Hospital on the night of the 26th, Bhanu Narkar was killed in the firing. He is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter.

India Helps visited them twice, and helped with cash payments (about Rs 2000) and a month's supply of groceries. Additional support in filing paperwork ad finding employment for the sons was offered, but the Narkars declined. The older son subsequently took over his father's job at Cama, while the younger found a job as a cleaner. The daughter is in school and planned on finishing college.

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