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Meeting Vandana and Tani

When Vandana entered the doctor’s chamber, the entire room lit up. She was chirping away in her sweet voice about how she had been feeling since her heart surgery, which was just few weeks ago. I asked her what she wanted to become in the future, and she spontaneously replied that she wanted to be a teacher. Vandana’s inspiration are her mother and teacher, but she didn’t forget her father, whose determination to save his young daughter, made me feel prouder than ever before. As the summer holidays progresses, Vandana continues to attend the local English speaking classes and during my interaction only articulated in English. Before she left, she did ask me and the team to stop by her house for lunch, she did emphasise that the food will be cooked by her mother!

Tani, the youngest of these brave hearts that I have interacted was sitting in her bed, when the Genesis Foundation Team and I met her in the patient wards. Her parents at her bedside, Tani appeared shy to interact with us. But, soon appeared attracted and engaged to colouring a book brought by the team. There was a hint of a smile there, but a scared one. Tani was to be operated the next day. Shy and quite Tani, was diagnosed when a local doctor in Barrielly identified some abnormal heart beats as she suffered through long periods of fevers. Tani’s parents remained calm when they were narrating this story and were resilient towards the upcoming fight. If Tani wasn’t screened in time and brought in for consultation, we wouldn’t be able to see this young girl bringing in colours on a paper, but also in her own life after the intensive operations.

It is just amazing how in such grave situations these young children are so composed. Something many of us can’t. A lot of these young children are not able to participate in games due to their condition. But looking at Vandana and Tani, the playfulness comes with their positive outlook in life. These children have a renewed chance to live life and they grab this opportunity and run with it!

Vandana and Tani’s stories will be incomplete if we don’t mention the medical staff behind their care and survival. When I entered Dr. Awasthy’s chambers, I witnessed many young kids with their families waiting to be seen by the doctor. There was a sense of apprehension, but there was hope, one will live again. Interacting with Dr. Awasthy, one thing was certain, the journey of each children here started with the lives of such doctors. Dr. Awasthy narrated the story of him choosing paediatric cardiology in an era when no one seemed to hope for the survival of the children diagnosed with Congenital Heart Defects. But doctor’s like him and their professional and altruistic outlook has today saved hundreds of children through the Save Little Hearts Initiative. It is his and his staff’s hard work which keeps every heart beating in this hospital.

We all believe that these diseases and illnesses are someone else’s problem, until we become this “someone else” for others. Instead of waiting for this to happen to one of us, maybe we need to be more proactive in preventing and treating Congenital Heart Defects. I am very proud of the brave work done here. It is very gratifying and reassuring that WPP India CSR Foundation believes in these young stories and being a representative of the Foundation, which also holds a fund-raising festival in Kasauli as well as other fundraising events for childcare, for children with CHD. I feel truly inspired to work and support this initiative taken by Genesis Foundation to save little hearts.

- Contributed by Aayushi Chaturvedi, Research Associate, WPP India CSR Foundation