I was born on a cold winter morning against all the odds and my life won the battle against those three deadly words ‘It’s a girl’. I am Kavita and this is my story though many say it’s not real, it’s fictional but it’s mine nonetheless.
In India approximately 31 children are born every minute so a birth of a child shouldn’t have been a big issue but it is because I am a GIRL. And being alive is certainly a big accomplishment. Very few girl children survive every year in the small village I am born and I have my parents to be thankful to bring me in this world.
Some might say being alive is a blessing but visit my village someday and you’ll think otherwise. We grew up playing in sand but never making sand castles, we didn’t know what that were. We grew up playing with tyres, it’s the game I loved the most, as long as you keep hitting the tyre with a stick it keeps rolling and hit has to be precise just like life here. Everyone keeps pushing their limits to live and it isn’t easy. My rural village is in Rajasthan state.
Being blessed with well aware parents I started my education at the very young age, I used to love going to school and my books. I was a sincere student until one day my mother fell and broke her hand, I was ten years old then so naturally I took leave for few weeks and helped in household chores and the biggest task was of getting water for the house. We don’t have direct supply of water at our huts so we have to travel 1 kilometer to the common water point to get domestic water daily. My family consumes around 40 liters of water every day, I managed to bring only around 10-15 liters each day and that wasn’t the worst of it. I started having back pain but we don’t have any health facility we could afford so we did what all others children do, we let it pass without treatment and also my mother told me that back pain is a pert of life, I must accept it. With time I won’t even realize it’s there as I’ll learn to live with it.
After couple of weeks my mother was now able to perform daily chores but now that I know the pressure on her I decided to help her so I dropped out of school. I spent Five hours with my mother daily to bring water to our house and that is tiring enough to make me indisposed but we don’t have any other option. And then I spend rest of the day reading books I have from the school. Someday I just want to dream but I don’t know what to dream, we don’t have televisions to give us visions or any other medium. One day Radha, my friend fell ill, she had typhoid and gradually she died. I got very upset, last month we lost Raghu as well. Many children fall ill, some survive some don’t, that’s the way of life I learnt. Matron who came to visit told me Typhoid is water born disease, I looked at the water and wondered how it can give birth to disease when all it does it quench our thirsts. But then I remembered my constant back pain now a part of my life and I know water can be as deadly as a poisonous snake. But it shouldn’t be? Should it?
Radha wasn’t the only one to died because of a waterborne disease, many children die every month some because of typhoid, diarrhea, Hepatitis A etc. and there is next to nothing anyone could do about it because we have only one source of water which is apparently contaminated.
One day we all were asked to gather around the common water point and a man with silver hairs explained about this water purifying system he installed to the hand pump, he said it will reduce the death caused by water and it did. That Zimba worked. But we still have to carry gallons of water on our heads until we were introduced to Wello. Now my life was much easier, I was happy to see my mother in less pain, I was happy to see that my little brother was gaining health as now the water had minerals as well and we had plenty of it as it isn’t tiring to carry it. Now that I seldomly make trips to collect water but I love rolling Wello with friends , I readmission in school and life felt better. Those kind people who gave us these life saving devices made me realize that there is nothing which can make one feel better than to save lives and I am going to do that when I grow up.
Someday I still wished I could dream, I liked my course books but they were not enough, they made me happy but they never made me laugh until I was given a story book by a kind lady from Pratham books.
I asked her “Why are you giving me this story book?”
“Because every child deserves to have their own story, their own book, their own dream. And we are going to put it every child’s little hands.” She told me sweetly.
I clutched that book to my heart and devoured it; it gave me dreams, visions, power of imagination and I know I can too have sand castles.
Today I am the Matron of my village, I always wanted to save lives and now I do save many lives.
“Why isn’t the baby crying doctor Saab.” Though I know the answer but my mind won’t comprehend that.
“They are both dead.” That’s all doctor saab said. His eyes were bleak.
“Post partum hemorrhage. Undiagnosed anemia.”
“But we have subsidized iron tablets available then why did she die? Why didn’t I know she was anemic?”
“This happens, Kavita, We don’t have the machines available here that detects a pregnant woman’s hemoglobin level.”
I understood that, then made sure that every pregnant women get’s iron tablets regularly but it isn’t easy. Iron shouldn’t be consumed in access and it is hard to prevent something when you don’t know that it exist at the first place. And women and children were still dying.
After few years all matrons were introduced to ToucHb, a miracle palm size machine that detects hemoglobin level, blood saturation and heart rate without pricking skin or taking blood. I have been using it for a while now, it’s easy to use and I have heard of very few pregnant women dying of undiagnosed anemia during child-birth. Now being alive is a blessing and I feel it in my heart. My family is proud of me, my mother even got her Wello painted saying ‘I am proud of my daughter’ in our regional language so that everyone reads it and learns and girls don’t deserve to die, they are to be treasure as they have the power to change and be the change.
I know I am not the one who save lives but I am content to be part of the cycle. I know you’ll say the same that my story isn’t real but it’s mine. It can be real only if you dare to dream, only if we dare to change. Only if we dare to take a stand and help as those who have helped my village, who helped me.
Now lets discuss Kavita’s story:
Kavita is a girl whose birth is a big accomplishment, but not every girl is as lucky as her. She is a GIRL born in poor family living in rural village of Rajasthan where life itself is difficult, where girls are considered to be burden because of the dowry system in India, because after their marriage are not able to support their family they were born in or because life is too cruel for them. Her family refused the dark side of those 3 deadly words ‘It’s a girl’ and embraced the power of those three words. But (there is always a but) not everyone accepts the miracle of those three words, United nation estimated that there are 200 million girls “missing” in the world today and not only poor but well-doing families of the society have a hand in the disappearance of those 200 million girls.
What is their reason? Just that boys are more preferable over girls. This genocide is gender specific hence ‘Gendercide’ as Evan Grae Davis named it in the video below.
Evan Grae Davis traveled around the world and witnessed many crude realities but what truly broke him was Gendercide and what is more tormenting is the reason a woman killed eight of her own gild child. How can we prevent Gendercide when girls are mistreated, they become victims of this merciless world. When many mothers believes that their baby girl is better off dead then face such fate as her?
Is there a way to put a stop to all this, make sure girls are safe in every possible sense. It is an utterly difficult job but not impossible. We need more people like Evan Grae Davis to stand up for this pressing issue because it is indeed a high time now because every girl deserve to live.
Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody ~ Mark Twain
Can water really not hurt anyone? What about those who don’t have water purification system installed at their homes? What about those who don’t even have direct water supply and have no means to purify it. Statistics says every minute a child dies out of waterborne disease. It is something which can be easily prevented that’s where Mr. Suprio Das came into picture. He invented a devise Zimba, a cheap reliable water purification system.
In Kavita’s villages children death rate decreased after Zimba was installed at the hand pump from where every one collects water. Zimba made chlorination feasible with proper dosage to treat contaminated water. Zimba has no moving parts to break down, runs mechanically so no dependency on electricity and a blessing to those who live in rural areas. If Zimba is installed in each and every rural area, can you imagine the wonders it would do. Now that Kavita’s little brother was consuming purified water, his health was improving as well.
Suprio Das is the inventor of Zimba and we can not thank him enough for that. His engineering skills and zeal for social work is saving many lives now and will continue to do so. By the end of the video he said that he isn’t the one who is doing all the work but the Gravity. Yes it is the gravity which is doing all the work, gravity of his emotions, his zeal, his dedication to provide safe drinking water to each and every house hold around the world.
Now that Kavita’s village have clean water to drink, they don’t have access to portable water easily, women still have to carry matkas on their heads to fulfill their domestic water needs and as Cynthiya Koenig quoted ‘Water is heavy’. Many village girls drop out of school to help in daily chores and carrying gallons of water on head is very injurious to health. Each women carried on an average 20 kg water daily over 1 kilometer, and in 69% of cases they get spinal pains, and in 38% cases are of back pain.
Cynthiya Koenig with the help of skilled people invented a device ‘Wello‘ which will help villagers to carry water for miles without holding it on their heads. Wello is tough that it can roll on sandy-rocky terrain. It saves time as well. Ask the one who have used it and you’ll know how useful it proves to be. Wello is the invention that will help women’s life much easier and much less painful.
Rohini Nilekani, Founder chairperson of Pratham has a mission to give a dream to every child, give them a chance to explore the fantasy worlds, give them wings to fly, give them happiness to live . Give them visions and imagination so lets help up in putting a book in every child’s hand. She helped our Kavita and numerous children but she can’t do it along. It time we all volunteer her in her the noble cause. Lets join hands to put that smile on every child’s face.
I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it. ~ Marilyn Monroe
Being a woman is a blessing but it has turned out to be a curse as well, when she isn’t killed at her birth, and not abused by someone to death, her blood fails her. That generally happens in villages where there are very few heath facilities available. Do you how precious a woman’s life is? Still many women lose it at the time of childbirth along with the life of their child and the reason is — undiagonised anemia, low hemoglobin level in their blood. The very talented Myshkin Ingawale when saw that happening, he decided to do something, to invent a lot cost device ‘ToucHb‘ that will find Hb level without using needles so that matrons at villages can use it, Kavita has been using it.
These inspiring people along with others, in total 18 were gathered last year in an event organised by Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012, where they narrated their captivating innovations which will indeed become the backbone of a developing nation, which will help a common man numerous ways.
Visit their page : www.ftideacaravan.com and help them in making this world a better place.