The story of
success story :
the outcome of Community Service Program| SEHER
picture of Mida
Mida, an old and fully recovered client from the Seher intervention program came back into our system of care. She was a middle aged woman who had survived severe post partum depression, tuberculosis and a series of relapses thereafter having emerged as a strong individual in her own rights. Mida was registered in the Bapu trust in 2010. She lived in a family
of four sisters, two brothers and parents. She lost her father at a young age. After her father’s death, Mida took the whole responsibility of her family and started working immediately as a sole breadwinner. She got her sisters and brothers and so did she, after settling them. But, her husband was not good to her. He used to beat her up a lot. She could not take it anymore and left him.
Eventually, she took a divorce. After her divorce, she started working. She wanted to get married again but, her family didn’t support her decision. One of her relatives helped her out. She met someone who she thought was a good match for her.
They got married. She started living in the Lohiyanagar on a rental basis. Days were going smoothly, soon enough she got pregnant. She was regularly going for a checkup in the hospital. In her seventh month of pregnancy, she started having too many problems.
She was frustrated and started saying that she doesn’t want the child. She used to sleep on her stomach; She used to slap her stomach. She gave a birth to a healthy baby boy, but did not seem to be happy. She couldn’t pay attention to her
child, had long periods of silence and gloom. Doctors gave her diagnosis of post-partum depression. Her mother and sisters supported her in this phase. She had frequent episodes of relapse. Her deterioration was very profound.
At that time, one of the community workers identified her. She befriended her. She used to shut herself in her room and isolate herself from everybody. She did not attend to the child, the child used to be crying for food,
but she would not attend to his needs. There have been times when the child used to scratch on the walls and consume the ‘chuna’ when hungry. She never gave bath to her child or cleaned him when he soiled his clothes. She never took a bath for days together.
She soiled her clothes, did not maintain menstrual hygiene and refused to eat, drink or sleep. Her husband used to attend to these needs of her when available in the house. She was so weak that one could hardly hear her voice coming out of her throat, she never spoke a word. She had no strength in her body.
She contracted tuberculosis and her condition further deteriorated. She did not get any support from her maternal family.
Her neighbors were very supportive of her, but they were not able to engage her. They did attend to her child’s needs as much as possible.
Intensive work was done with Mida and her family including: family interventions, confrontational panchayat meeting with both families, support and follow up sessions, providing food through tiffins, linking child to childcare services, assisting her for checkups and medications and
intensive individual sessions with her husband.
She was referred to group services. She missed the initial few sessions, but started attending sessions thereafter. She was one of the most consistent members of the group.
Initially she used to be very quiet in the group, not speak to anyone including the facilitator. She just attended the sessions by virtue of her rapport with the fieldworker. Slowly she started waiting after the group sessions.
When everybody left, she would ask the facilitator questions like: “Do you know me, do you know
how I was, I don’t remember much of what I did when I was unwell, have you worked with me? “Etc.
The facilitator sensed she had a feeling of stigma and that was one of the reasons probably why she did not speak openly about herself to the facilitator or other group members.
Once she got to know that the facilitator too had worked with her along with the other team members, she was relieved and started sharing her story in the sessions with everyone else. She tried through her sharing’s to motivate people and gave them messages of hope for change. She developed a feeling of oneness with other group members and also looked out for some of them.
This was an entirely different Mida. She was very confident about herself and was no longer scared to speak in public about her feelings. She had along with her husband’s help, bought about changes in her diet to improve her physical and mental condition. The diet feedback and tips were regularly provided in the sessions by the facilitator, while the fieldworker kept a regular tab on this during her follow up visits.
She had started going to work, as a domestic help and was able to undertake most responsibilities of her household and her child with a little assistance of her husband and support from the fieldworker. She also reported of ‘feeling good’ by attending the sessions, and probably received emotional agency
and support from the group members. A number of negotiations were done with her husband on ending the cycle of violence and neglect and with her maternal family on issues of neglect and caregiving. She made speedy recovery from her depression and from TB.
She moved on in life, moved into a new rented house and reconciled with her husband. She took charge of her life with a new refreshed zeal. They along with their young child were quite settled, having also moved into a small household business of sorts, tying up with wedding caterers and bands on their uniform maintenance. Life was good and her case was closed.
Tragedy struck yet again.
Around early October 2016, we received a call from her. She reached out to field team members, those who had worked with her intensively in the past. She sounded quite bad on the phone and requested for a meeting. She said that she was in great pain and her relation with her husband, Mirza was not going well either. Our team immediately got in touch with her and was shocked to see the level of deterioration she had reached.
Her tuberculosis had struck with a vengeance; She was completely addicted to Misri, skipping her meals even and just consuming misri through the day. She was very sick and hardly had the strength to stand up on her own. Her husband Mirza informed the team that she had not complied with TB treatment
as per what the Doctor had suggested to her and though she felt better for quite some time, it had relapsed on this account. He had taken her to the doctor on several occasions in the past few weeks and tried getting her to take the medications, but she would refuse and just not take them. Frustrated he had hit her.
At the moment, getting her to the hospital was most important. The team members somehow managed to lift her put her in the rickshaw and reached Sonawane hospital which had a TB unit.The doctor advised immediate
admission to Sassoon Hospital without any further delay. It was a matter of life and death in his view. A stretcher was called for and the team along with Mirza and the Doctor from Sonawane took her to Sassoon in an ambulance.
The doctors there refused to admit her unless her addiction stopped and called her on another day; though at the continued persistent and strong insistence of the Sonawane Doctor and the field team they finally gave in and admitted her. The team worked closely with Mirza
through her admission on how to care for her and was also providing her support round the clock. Mida, however, being the strong spirited woman that she was refused to continue being in the hospital and insisted on being discharged. She wanted to be in her house, with her child and with Mirza.
The doctors gave her discharge against their consent and she headed back home.
Through that day and days after that Mida continued to be with us, there was a constant struggle between going by what she wanted as against what was deemed best for her in her situation, by her caregivers.
She continued demanding for Misri and managed to source it from somewhere or the other. What was little understood at that point of time was that given her health condition, and the TB treatment, her depression had also probably relapsed!
There were constant fights in the house, continued verbal and physical abuses thrown back and forth, not just between Mida and Mirza but also with people from the neighborhood. Her neighbors got to know of her TB and were quite concerned about its spread.
They were ‘tired of her’ and one day just ganged up and threatened the family. They warned Mirza to either move her away from there or be prepared to be thrown out. They also roped in the house owner.
They had many complaints against her and refused to budge unless a resolution was reached in this regard. Our team stepped in and tried negotiating with them, sensitizing them to her condition and requesting for their support to her through this time.
But none of this worked and they refused to let the team go unless they took Mida with them. With much difficulty, the matter was resolved for the moment, with the team committing to working with her maternal family to make space for her and care for her.
We reached out to her mother and brothers only to be hurled with abuses there and they refused to have to do anything with her. They threatened the staff of dire consequences if they persisted the visits to their house with such requests. Within a day, conflicts with the neighbors resumed more intensively than before
and Mirza took Mida to a place near Dulhadulhan Kabrastan and left her there on the streets. This was at a time when she had severe infection, was not on any medications and it was freezing cold outside with the onset of winters in Pune. As soon as the team got to know of this, they rushed to her.
She was settled on the pavement with other homeless people. Someone had given her alms and something to eat. She said that Mirza left her, because she was being difficult. She would continue to stay there till he came and picked her up.
When offered shelter in the office she refused, she said that she would like to be in the same place inspite of the dangers to her
- her health, no food, no shelter, danger of abuse, danger of police- she understood everything, yet she wanted to be there. This was a very challenging moment for all of us and we just could not comprehend why someone would make such a choice, knowing very well that it may go either ways- the choice to not want care, not take medications, refuse food, and the choice to be on the streets.
All she wanted she said was to be at home, with Mirza and with their son. Our talks with Mirza continued meanwhile and he took a house at another place. After much insistence he gave in to our pressure and he bought her home. She was so happy that day. But this was not to last either.
For a few days after, she took medications, we consulted the homeopath and started her on homeopathic treatment, she showed some positive changes, including eating on time, cooking at home, and caring for her child. Yet again, there was a slip and things went back to where they were.
She kept oscillating from home to the pavements at Dulhadulhan Kabrastan, to the parking lot of where her mother and brothers lived. All this while she survived by keeping her connect to people going, people who knew her, who supported her in small ways like offering her foods, water, blankets, people who took a few minutes to speak to her,
some who cooked for her at times, including people from the field team- all of them. They cared for her as one of her own. It was extremely difficult and disturbing to see her like this, being on the streets when she had so many homes to go to, having no one to care for her, inspite of having a huge family.
There were constant negotiations and arbitrations with Mirza, her maternal family and the community people through this period. Her health was deteriorating day by day. There was a feeling of helplessness in the team, having to see her in this pain, making sustained and intensive efforts in every possible direction,
yet to see that her state was worsening and there was no breakthrough. Eventually after about two months Mida expressed the need to be taken to safe place.
There was a surge of hope once again. A number of organizations were contacted to provide her shelter and care for a brief period, while the work with her and her family continued.
However, most organizations who agreed to take her initially later declined on hearing about her TB status. Already a great deal of time had been lost. An organization in Mumbai was identified and they agreed to offer her shelter for nominal costs. Mirza, Mida's brother and Mida along with a senior person from our team booked a car and took her to this place.
As soon as they saw her, they backed off!! They cited many reasons for not being able to house her there. Negotiations continued with them well through the evening and night, they owed an accountability to what they had committed, yet this was of no use.
That night everyone returned and Mirza left her once again on the pavement!
Another organization was approached within the next 2 days and after an intervention by the Director, they agreed to take her in. But, sadly we had lost far too much time in this process and Mida was lost forever.
She breathed her last on 2nd December 2016.
In our work in communities we continue to see a few Midas, some our own clients, some from bastis who are driven to the point of no return.
This was story 18. It is a true story.
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