We have made several visits to the dentist in the last few months with several children needing a little work on their teeth. A couple of the children have been back two or three times due to the severity of the treatment required.
We will hopefully start to make dental visits on a more regular basis, checking for decay and so preventing the need for extensive treatment later on. Unfortunately, all the local dentists have private practices and the cost does add up. Saying that, the lovely dentist who has been looking after the children is doing a fantastic job and the children have coped really well with the dentists' chair.. Children living in the slums rarely visit a dentist without our intervention. Even when there is a problem, they tend to suffer in silence due to being afraid of the dentist and the thought of needles. Well, we all are a little afraid or needles aren't we... Hopefully by introducing the children to dentists early on (when they don't have any health problems), it will reduce the fear and encourage them to let us know sooner if there is a problem.
We will continue to supply toothpaste and toothbrushes to the children along with other hygiene products to encourage them to look after their health and this will hopefully reduce the need for emergency visits to the Dentist or Doctor.
As you can imagine living in the slums can be difficult, especially for the fairer sex. Often girls are married off at an early age and these are generally as arranged marriages. Many live loveless lives with a partner who is forced onto them. In a society where divorce is a dirty word, suicide is often seen as an easier option. Two older children were at their home when they heard signs of distress coming from their next door neighbours house. A young woman of 27 years had wrapped her dupatta around her neck and was hanging from the roof. The two boys grabbed her around her body, one taking her weight and the second untying her dupatta and saving her life. She had a mark around her neck where the dupatta had tightened but thankfully that was all. Unfortunately that was not the end to her attempts. A few minutes later she attempted to drink poison. The easiest available item to her was the mosquito liquid used in the plug in the mosquito adaptor, thankfully again, one of the boys managed to stop her. If it wasn't for the two boys quick actions the outcome might have been very different. They were worried about her and decided to call Robert for help.
Robert arrived about 10 minutes later as the woman was being sick and convulsing on the bed. At this point Robert didn't know what she had swallowed, so asked to see the bottle. The bottle had been opened but it was still looked full, so Robert didn't think she had really taken any, or if she had it was a very small amount. To be safe Robert wanted to take her to emergency and casualty at the district hospital in Mapusa but the woman was unwilling to go. She was still very emotional but Robert explained that if she had drunk the liquid then she must get checked over but she would not go. We settled with allowing her to be sick to regurgitate anything she had taken.
Robert sat and talked through the problems with her and this is when she told her story of being married when she was 15/16 to an older boy and never being happy. She has two children from the marriage, who were, thankfully, at school during the whole episode. As the woman and the boys explained it was apparent that the husband would beat her and waste the family's money on gambling. She was in a loveless marriage and was looking for a way out.
Robert told about a women's hostel where she could go but she thought she was too independent for that so the next option was to rent a separate home and split from the husband where her troubles might feel a little less intense. They talked for a good hour and she became quite calm and even smiled, if only on the outside.
We can only hope that she can find a way to live her life which makes her happy. We will check up on her and hope that it was just a cry for help, rather than that all hope had gone. Robert visited her during the next two days just to make sure she was doing ok, and for the moment at least, it seems she is calmer and more relaxed.
I would like to pass on my thanks to the Home Schooling Goa families who very kindly donated second hand books today. In total 3 boxes overflowing with books were donated.
It will take a couple of days to sort through the new donations and organise them into seperate grades/abilities and then we can provide these to the children and give them an extra resource to work from to help with their continuing education. Thanks again to all the children and families who provided this great resource.