A Game-Changing Lesson

By Kim Saam

Amidst the densely populated streets of Mumbai, we met Sumanji and Pinku, two parents who are intensely committed to giving their daughter, Jhanvi every chance in life -- and that includes bringing her to regular vitamin distributions!

 

Just 25 cents can improve the health of children like Jhanvi.

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          Jhanvi loves going to preschool. When she comes home at the end of the day the three-and-a-half-year-old recites the rhymes she’s learned to her parents, Pinku and Sumanji. Understandably reserved around newcomers, Jhanvi comes across as a very pensive child. Though she has friends at school, she is the happiest when she is by herself. She does her homework every day without prompting and loves to play with clay and create things out of it.

        The family lives in a modest apartment on a narrow street. Friends and family members are always stopping by to share news or a meal. The market is just down the block, so basic staples and vegetables are readily available. The local hospital is only about fifteen minutes away.

          To Jhanvi, one thing is always in short supply, time with her father. Sumanji’s schedule is erratic. He is away most of the time, working as a driver for a travel company. Jhanvi misses her father a lot when he’s gone, but tries to make light of it by teasing her mother about who she loves more.

        For children growing up in Mumbai, even the simple childhood joys of playing can pose a threat. Exposure to illness and infection from close quarters, lack of sanitation, and bare feet coupled with limited access to the types of nutritious foods that can promote a healthy immune system can make for a dangerous combination.

        When Jhanvi was two, she fell ill with dengue fever and had to be hospitalized. The mosquito-borne disease is all too common in their community. It was a scary time for the family.

          A few months ago, Pinku learned about vitamin A and deworming distributions happening nearby and brought Jhanvi. Since then, Pinku reports, Jhanvi has been in good health. “By the grace of God, she is a very active child and does well at school. She has only become more active and stronger since receiving the vitamins. She also eats well and is gaining weight. She is happier,” Pinku said. Good health, Pinku believes, will keep a family together.

        Lately, Jhanvi misses fewer days of school due to illness and is looking forward to starting Kindergarten next year. Pinku hopes to enroll her daughter in a good school that is close by where Jhanvi can continue to nurture her dream of becoming a teacher or a doctor. 


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