ROMA'S NEW HOUSE
This is the story of Roma as told by Andrew Pulger-Frame who owns the Karmi Farm Guest House and runs the Karmi Farm Clinic in India:
"In January 2012 I was expecting a visit by a Dragoman group, so a couple of weeks before they arrived, their group leader , Anja, got in touch to mention that there was a nurse in the group, and knowing that we had a clinic at Karmi Farm, asked if there was something that she could do to help.
I asked Saroj, the clinic health worker, if there was something specific that he needed help with and he straight away mentioned this girl Roma, who had recently been in a horrible accident. She needed something doing to her catheter, which needed a female nurse. Although this was not a complicated procedure, the local culture made it difficult for Saroj to see to it himself.
Back in October 2011 there was a large mela or fair in the local town of Bijanbari. The fair was set up on both sides of the river and the only means of crossing was an ancient suspension foot bridge. This bridge was only designed to take a handful of people at a time but on this day, the last day of the fair, the bridge was overloaded with hundreds of people and the inevitable happened.
The cable snapped, sending all that were on it down to the river. 45 people were killed with dozens more injured. Roma was on the bridge at the time… she survived, but broke her back. She is now paralysed from the waist down.
Roma is 21 years old and is the oldest of 6 kids. She had to leave school early to help support her family and was, up until October 2011, the main bread winner for her family.
When we went to see Roma for the first time in January 2012 everybody was struck by her tragic story and the Dragoman group wanted to help by donating some money that could help her in some way.
At that point I did not know what would be the best way of helping her. After talking to her again a few days later I was told that the local authority was going to give her a wheelchair. She was very excited about it but straight away I thought that, great as it would be, a wheelchair would not be much use to her in her present house and surroundings. She would only be able to sit in it and would still have to be carried in and out from the house.
Then came the idea of building her a new house that would have wheelchair access to all parts, inside and out.
It was estimated that a new house with bedroom, washroom, and kitchen would cost approx.Rs80000, about £1000 . By April 2012 after donations from three Dragoman groups, we had raised approx.. Rs40000, about £500. This was enough to start getting materials together and start the actual construction. By May 2012 the main structure was finished at a total cost of approx.. Rs60000. There is still some finishing touches to be done but the house is now more or less ready.
The typical Nepali rural house is always built up on a platform with steps up to the front door. The kitchen is always a separate unit as it houses an open fire for cooking, without a chimney… the smoke is used for drying and curing produce.
Romas' new house was designed all on one level with the kitchen at one end which will be used by the whole family. It will still have an open fire, but built up to a level Roma can access from her wheelchair and with a vent in the roof for the smoke to escape.
She will now be able to get herself to the kitchen and maybe even do some cooking again. The ramp leading down from the house will give her access to the area outside where we plan to build her a raised flower and vegetable garden.
Roma in her new wheel chair
Drs Tripta & Paul Schur have been regular volunteers at the Karmi Farm Clinic over the last few years. While Dr Paul Schur has worked tirelessly alongside Saroj diagnosing and treating day to day health problems and managing the high local hypertension problems, Dr Tripta Schur has set up a family planning programme for the women. This started with an education programme, consultations and examinations with each lady. The Karmi Farm Clinic was then set up to provide regular contraceptive injections for partaking women alongside the supply of other forms of contraception. More recently the Karmi Farm Clinic has funded trips for the women to take advantage of the sterilisation programme at the main hospital in Darjeeling. The clinic follows through with post-surgical care. This is a continuing activity by the Government and so far the clinic has provided transport and after care for over 50 of the local women.
Waiting for the family clinic