My First Journey to Meet Little Hearts: Notes from my First Screening Camp
December 5, 2023 | Contributed by Rubiya Bano
I have always been fascinated by the idea of working at the grassroot level as it gives one a lot of exposure and experiences that one remembers for the lifetime. Being part of the social development sector, grassroot activities are imperative to be in touch with ground realities and plan effective and doable strategies that can have the desired impact on the people on the ground.
At the Bathinda junction with my team member for the screening camp
Conditions related to a Congenital Heart Defect(CHD) are much lesser-known area as compared to the incidence and prevalence of these defects among children. There is a great need to focus on building awareness about the probable causes, symptoms and course of treatment. Awareness is the stepping stone to a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Genesis Foundation being one of the best children’s charity working for the treatment of children with Congenital Heart Defects gave me an opportunity to be a part of my first ever Screening Camp at Bathinda. Genesis Foundation regularly conducts screening camps in areas which have limited access to pediatric cardiac care to ensure that children living in these areas can being diagnosed and treated on time.
This was the Foundation’s second camp at Bathinda. The experience has helped me get a sneak-peak into the place and to learn from the prior experience of the team. I was all excited to meet the little hearts, interact with their families and finally be able to support some of them to breathe a new life.
Colours progressing from Grey to Green Taking Inspiration from nature, we continue to glean #MittiPindDi
Each opportunity is a pedestal for a new learning and thus, I tried to extend the scope of the camp beyond just screening. I was very fortunate to have a supportive leadership at Genesis Foundation who encouraged me to go with the idea of building awareness about CHD at the camp. Awareness about CHD is extremely low and camps provide us the opportunity to interact with so many people at once. Our venue for the camp being a heart hospital gave me an added advantage to utilize this camp for building awareness about CHD, free heart surgery for child in India in addition to the screening of the children.
We started off our journey from Delhi to Bathinda via train. Train journeys have so many stories associated with them and this train journey from Delhi to Bathinda was even more special for me. I believe very few people actually get a chance to do what they love and even fewer could actually live it. I was immersed in the transition of nature on our way, the cultural diversity that we have and was eager to be at Bathinda. Though all cities might seem to be the same, I believe that there is a vibe that is peculiar to each city. Bathinda was very lively and colorful with people interacting in Punjabi.
Upon reaching Bathinda, I went on a recce of the venue to ensure all arrangements like seating area, refreshments, LED display, Volunteers, Echo room etc. were in place so that the camp could be executed smoothly.
The next morning was much awaited. I was flooded with emotions of anxiety and excitement. The families started arriving at the camp venue from 10 a.m. I, along with my colleague had distributed our roles and responsibilities in advance and we worked accordingly. The registration of the families was followed by an Echocardiogram. I was assigned the tasks of taking photographs of the family post signing of the consent in our application form, taking video testimonials and giving away Genesis Foundation Balloons to the children as a token of our love.
Ensuring all systems are in place for a smooth execution of the camp
Interaction with the families to know about their journey from diagnosis to reaching the camp venue was so full of emotions. Many parents could not ask for more but a good health of their child. I tried capturing these emotions of love, concern, anxiety, doubt, nervousness and HOPE through my photographs and video testimonials. The parents just wanted to hear out that their child will be able to get fine and be like any other kid of their age. Many parents could not control and broke down while sharing their stories of courage and resilience. At this time being available for just hearing them out was surely a great stress buster.
For building awareness, I with my team worked on including symptoms of CHD in our standee, banners and hoardings that were used as marketing collaterals. All collaterals were in Punjabi language for easy understanding and ensuring that the families understood our mission. As visuals can have lasting impact on the minds of people and overcome the literacy barrier, we went with the idea of playing a film explaining the work Genesis Foundation does and how we have been working to provide free heart surgery for child in India. The film caught the attention of everyone in the waiting area as people who had turned-up for the camp could relate to the video and those otherwise waiting for their regular appointments had something to get engaged in. Thus, the film turned out to be a good engagement and awareness tool at the camp.
In total, 65 families turned-up for the screening camp. At last, when the last child got screened and camp came to a closure it was a feeling of accomplishment, joy and satisfaction. We were very fortunate to have cooperative volunteers who supported our children’s charity thoroughly during the camp. As it is said that similar energies add up to create unprecedented output, similar was the case with volunteers. Many of them supported us despite not being officially part of it. This further convinced me that good work knows no boundaries.
With plethora of emotions and learnings, I left Bathinda to return to Delhi with a promise to grow as a person and contribute to best of my capacity in our mission to #SaveLittleHearts.