Believe in Us: Bhubaneswar and Pondicherry

Greeting patients in Bhubaneswar
We flew in Thursday night (Nov. 14) to Bhubaneswar. I love Bhubaneswar. It’s small, colorful, intriguing, and poor. Paved roads give way to dirt roads; cars give way to bull-drawn carts. Sometimes it seems the poorer the place, the more intrigued and comfortable I am. If I dared to believe in reincarnation, as Hindus do, I’d say I must have come from the slums in an earlier life. I am at home in them, and am drawn to them.

The hotel is nice that we checked into last night. Clean, quiet. But no hot shower, again. Will I never have a hot shower in India? This time it’s because the water heater was “hidden” from view—my own fault. The food in the restaurant is also good. Indian food is just delicious!

Chittaranjan

Usha and I again pack up toys and factor to share, and Chittaranjan, the secretary for the Bhubaneswar chapter, picks us up at 8:30 am. We go to the medical college where Chitta is attending as a nursing student.

Chitta is an amazing young man. Only 24, but so unworldly mature. He has hemophilia, limited access to any factor, is going to college, doing well, and running a whole hemophilia chapter! He pulled together this entire event today. His demeanor is respectful, but he knows when to push to get an idea or suggestion across. I marvel at his diplomatic communication skills. This young man is a keeper.

Greeting from the Dean of the Medical College

The event was lovely. A large sign welcoming us personally was hung on the wall. A special plaque was given to us both thank us for our help. So many families had traveled from very far away, to see us. We got to meet them all, one by one, and ask some questions related to their lives.

For example, one, Jitendra, is 14 years old. He receives money from Save One Life and spends it on education and treatment. He lives 150 kilometers away. His father works on a farm, and must travel far away daily. The father had an intense countenance, a combinaton of fear and desperation.

Laurie with young beneficiary of Save One Life

When I asked him what one thing would make your life easier (expecting him to say free factor) he said emphatically and without hesitation: a vegetable selling business, to open a roadside vendorship, to be near his son. Awesome answer. He needs 50,000 rupees to start ($1,000). Through out chat we learned that a storm ruined his house and he now lives in a tent!! He only earns $100 a month. We stressed to our partners that they must inform us when disaster strikes our beneficiaries! We can help this man, and I promise him we will get this money for his business.

We took photos with each child, recorded their progress and needs. The dean of the medical college came in to meet us, and greet the children. After a few hours, a take-away lunch was served, and we set out to do some home visits. One obstacle to our work is language: communication is really confusing here. India has about 70 languages, so when we travel to different cities, we have to speak English, translated into Hindi, translated into the local language and then back again. So three people are needed to ask questions and translate! When 2-3 people are speaking simultaneously, explaining, talking over each other, questions and answers are easily misunderstood. We must be über careful when interviewing so correct information is taken. Some things are almost a given and are never misconstrued: most families earn about $10- $40 a month, nothing when you think of what they have to buy. And add hemophilia on top of this… life is a day to day struggle to survive.
This is one reason why education is paramount. When you meet a child in the States, you often ask, “How old are you?” In India, you must ask, “What class are you?” Education trumps anything else in their young lives. Education is a key to a future. This is one reason why we stress that Save One Life monies be considered for funding education costs.

Bikram wants to be a doctor

We head out eventually to visit Bikram, a young man who is sponsored by Save One Life but who needs a scholarship. He desperately wants to attend medical college and needs funding to study for one year, called “medical coaching,” so he can pass the exams to get in. Bikram lives in a clean, new building, but he and his parents live in one small room of this. There is nowhere to cook. There is no bathroom, just a public one down the hall and out a door. There’s one bed and you must use your imagination to sort out where do they all sleep? Bikram never smiles the entire time we visit. I compliment him on the colorful motivational charts I see on the wall.  Set goals. Listen to directions. Believe in yourself.

I tell Bikram we will get him the $1,000 he needs for coaching. Somehow. Believe in us. The mother has tears in her eyes when we explain to her we will help. She offers us some simple food, in the customs of Indians when you come to their home. It is always startling humbling when you are in the homes of the poor, sometimes the poorest of the poor, and they exhibit more  graciousness than just about anyone you know.

Street in Cuttack

On Friday morning, we head to Cuttack, a suburb of Bhubaneswar, about an hour away. It’s a very colorful ride, past temples, roadside vendors, and fruit stands. The streets are a mad scramble packed with cows, bicycles, motorbikes, autorickshaws, trucks and cars. The hospital is a public one, so it is exploding with people. Chitta, Usha and I have to shoulder by a crowd to get in to the hematology ward.

Deepak needs immediate surgery
Our goal was simply to say hello to the director of hematology. He has so many people waiting in line we feel guilty being ushered in. We chat a bit, snap some photos, and then head out to the wards. While at the wards, we come across a huge and shocking surprise. A 16 year old boy, Deepak Das, propped up in a sad bed, flanked by his worried parents. His right thigh is grotesquely swollen, causing his right foot to drop; the skin is stretched till it looks like it might explode. It’s a pseudotumor, Dr. Sudha explains, and he needs an amputation ASAP. This is a complicated case and we urge the staff to consider bringing him to an HTC. They have no factor to do the operation and the operation has been postponed but the boy is now critical. We pledge the factor and any money that can help. The mother starts to cry, and the father immediately sets to praying intensely. India’s culture does not include hugging in public, but this mother, so grateful leans into me and we hug.

Usha, our amazing liaison for Save One Life
Our last city is Pondicherry, in the south, a short drive from Chennai. We flew to Chennai for two days to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the Chapter, where Usha is from. She is delighted to be home. But Sunday morning, back on the road with a two hour drive to Pondi. Pondicherry is a former French colony which still retains a French flair about it. It’s pretty and quite different than the rest of India. It has temples, museums and a botanical garden (you know this if you watched Life of Pi). It seems to me there are however more stray dogs here than anywhere else. India is ravaged by stray dogs much as the dogs themselves are ravaged by fleas, ticks and skin disease —ubiquitous, yellow mutts with the mandatory
curly tail, as though they were all sired at one time by a common set of parents. Half are lame; many are lactating. They are starved, wary and are everywhere. They set their eyes on me, Usha says, because they know I look different and they are hoping for better treatment from a foreigner. They do tend to approach me and follow me.


We meet with a large group of children at the clinic, and do a home visit in the evening. on Monday, my last day in India, we go to the beach with Dr. Nalini, who runs the clinic and the chapter. Usha and I stand at the Bay of Bengal, enjoying the fresh sea breeze and watching the European tourists. We take in an ashram, where people go to study yoga, and best of all, an ancient 15 century Hindu temple. We removed our shoes, and walk in gingerly, speaking in hushed tones. I witnesses how Hindus pray; their unusual gods, with elephant and monkey heads, blue faced, adorning the walls.  I joined a line to enter a sacred room, where everyone was praying. An oil lamp was brought out by a half-naked Indian, and devotees waved their hands in the flame, then touched power to their heads.

A blessing from an elephant

Exiting, I was surprised by an enormous pewter-colored elephant, ornamentally painted and sporting an ankle bracelet, just outside the temple door. When you offer it a coin, it snatches it then touches your head in blessing. Not having any rupees, I think I gave it a New York City transit coin.

We were tired after the day; the weather was steamy and humid. We drove back to Chennai, straight to the airport, after saying our good byes to Nalini. We stopped at a roadside place that was good, and ate some Northern Indian food and masala tea, summing up our to-do list for the week. I was kind of happy to be back in my traveling clothes—black pants, white sleeveless hiking top—but sad to leave. On this my fourth trip, I am used to India now, comfortable. I never get sick, and love the food and people. I do get mentally drained trying to sort out the languages, cadences and interruptions, but am ridiculously pleased overall with how Save One Life programs are functioning and are actually making a concrete measurable difference in patients’ lives.

Back towards Chennai and the city was crazy bustling at night. Thousands of roadside vendors, shops, motorcycles, autorickshaws. It’s a sensory overload. I am in awe at the amount of humanity in one city. And yet the airport was all but empty, giving Usha and me the time and space to say a bittersweet good bye. We are great partners, and compatible traveling mates. I guess it all seems easy when you have one mission, one goal. Much to think about on a 24-hour ride back to my world.

Greeting from the beneficiaries in Pondicherry


Calcutta: Scholars Amid the Squalor

Monday, November 11, 2013 Kolkata

Sheets being cleaned

Have you seen the movie “The Life of Pi”? A phenomenal achievement in cinematography that happen also to be a stunning story about life. It starts off with a boy named Pi from Pondicherry, where I am now. I’ve been in India for almost two weeks, hitting six cities, visiting treatment centers and most of all, visiting some of the families and patients enrolled in Save One Life, which numbers about 600 in India! I’ll get to Pondicherry next week—first, I want to fill in what’s happened since Mumbai.

Rickshaw

In last week’s blog, I detailed the hemophilia camp (Camp HemoSOL) in Mumbai. After camp, Usha Parthasarathy, of Chennai, a mother of an adult some with hemophilia, and former VP Development of Hemophilia Federation (India), the national organization, and one of the founders of the Chennai chapter, and I flew to Kolkata (Calcutta), on the east coast, arriving late Sunday night. We awoke Monday morning, November 11, to the Muslim muezzins calling the faithful at 5 am on loudspeakers, and then hearing the rhythmic thwunk, thwunk of bed sheets and towels being slapped across rocks by workers at the massive green pool that stretches below our hotel window. The sheets are hung to dry like stiff, grey banners. I’m not sure what beating them against rocks does. My sheets and towels still don’t look too bright or white.

Admitted for an infusion

Our morning and early afternoon was spent at the new treatment center, a gift from a wealthy patron. It’s stunningly clean, an anomaly in Kolkata, a city besieged with people, cars, and mountains of trash; we meet with many patients. One is a teen with a bandage on his head; his expression is a bit wary. I later learn he is the same boy, age 6, I met back in 2001 when I first visited. He was then an orphan, and the center was raising him. He lived there! Now he is with relatives and looks good. Another boy, sweet faced and gentle, with his mother.

Another, a jolly-faced, round boy, who had been sleeping but they woke him. He smiled deliriously while we snapped photos. Finally another teen whose home I had visited in 2005; I never forget these faces and I’m amazed that he’s here on the one day I visit eight years later.

Laurie Kelley with hemophilia patient

We asked questions about their treatment (mostly cryo and plasma!), passed out toothbrushes we were given by the families of North Carolina (and the Hemophilia Foundation of North Carolina’s Christmas party last year) and puzzles. We met with an older man, 64, with a psoas or hip bleed. He was there with his 16-year-old son who spoke English. The Indian patients are all so nice, patient, polite. Unfailingly polite. Eventually we get to the Save One Life scholarship recipients. These are young men who qualify for a grant of money to help defray the cost of college.

Usha examines a boy with a bleed
Laurie with a new Facebook friend, Ayan!

One boy, Sajid, really caught our eye. His parents have died, and he was short money for the education. He qualified for a scholarship from us, but was still $40 short for tuition. That’s a lot of money in a city like Kolkata. At age 21, he raised his own money by tutoring other students. And he was living on his own. We replaced that money that same day, telling him how proud we were of him; Usha had tears in her eyes hearing his story. This experience made me realize what a difference we were making in these boys lives.

Save One Life’s Kolkata Scholarship Recipients

After the visits with the boys, we took photos; the boys all seemed genuinely happy to see me, and hung around a while to snap photos. I figured they might be dying to get going home. Then Usha and I, along with members of the Kolkata Hemophilia Society, including Ravi Ojha and his son Siddhartha, drove to a restaurant, and had a late lunch. I am not eating much on this trip and my wristwatch now keeps sliding about my wrist as I lose weight. (My girlfriends all want to come with me on a trip when they see how I always lose weight!) The food was very good: roti, chepati, and my favorite— masala tea. After this, we went to visit a beneficiary in his home. Ashish is sponsored by BioRx’s president, Eric Hill, one of many he sponsors with us.

 

Kolkata has many homeless people who live on the streets

It was not a long car ride, but we shoulder our way through the clogged city streets, and went to the poorer section of Kolkata, though almost all of it seems so poor. Still, this is a fascinating city. Yellow cabs dash about madly alongside ancient rickshaws pulled by white-haired, iron-muscled old men. Lights are string up deliriously here, celebrating the festival of lights, Diwali. So it was nice to drive about at night, breathing in air that was at once cool but gritty, fringed by multi-colored lights, guided by flickering lamps lit at passing Hindu temples, and finally arriving at an alley where Ashish lives. He was waiting at the beginning of the alley, where sweet shop sat, guarded by a generic third-world yellow dog, complete with the mandatory curly tail, eating some crackers.

 

We were happy to see Ashish, and set off in the dark down the alley, a short walk to his house, with him leading the way. House is misleading; it’s only a 12 by 12 room, big enough for one king size mattress and one cabinet—that’s it. The family sleeps on the bed and on the cold and moist concrete floor. Ashish is adorable, with such personality and expressive face. He wrote a letter to Eric, in English! Then cut a little video for me. I loved this kid at once. His family was sweet and slightly embarrassed to have foreign visitors. The father was not present, but the mother was, and didn’t quite know what to do with herself. The children had no such problem; they giggled, mugged for my camera, and wriggled on the bed in excitement.

Asish, a Save One Life beneficiary

After a long day with too little sleep, I often feel like I want to skip the family visits, which invariably happen during the mosquito-driven night, in grimy places and dark environs. But I never regret going. It means the world to them—a visit from an American lady! And I brought stuffed animals which made them happy. We spilled out into the dark alley after the visit, and headed back to the car, with many waves and good byes.

Back at our hotel, Usha and I skipped dinner, once again, and snacked on the raw almonds I brought from Boston. I compile notes, process photos and turn in. Tomorrow we head for Durgapur, named after the goddess Durga, who brings success and wealth. Maybe for a lucky few; our hemophilia families do not know such luck, unless it’s knowing they have a hemophilia
chapter, some donated factor, and Save One Life. (Next week: Durgapur,
Bhubaneswar and Pondicherry)

Diwali lights

 

Siddhartha of the Kolkata Chapter with Ashish’s family

 

Laurie and Usha with Ashish in his “house”: the right and left walls are visible. The room is only 12×12 and houses six people

India Day 2: Slumdogs to WHO?

Day 2 – Saturday, September 25, 2010

Today we started with a hearty breakfast and then headed for the slums of Delhi to meet with two families. Usha, Krish and I met with our colleague Indira, president of the Delhi chapter, HFI, who would guide us. But first a bit of sightseeing. Krish had never before been to Delhi! It’s a marvelous city, alternatively orderly and clean, then also, like most big cities, chaotic, noisy and dirty. We toured the India Gate, a stately monument to the fallen Indian soldiers of several wars.

The first family we visited was in a ramshackle riverside slum, sheltered underneath a soaring highway. A sea of blue plastic tarp draping the tops of the many shanties rippled. Parking on the roadside, we stepped gingerly on a beaten path littered with dog, pig and human excrement, and plastic bags, garbage and paper. A ghastly smell rose from the heavily polluted river, causing Krish to cover his mouth with a handkerchief. Up ahead we could see small children scuttling about, a few teens, and many women: bathing the children under an open spigot by the riverside, hanging laundry, cooking over open fires or carrying supplies home. The dwellings are cement blocks, covered by corrugated tin sheets and covered by the blue tarp to prevent rain from dripping in. An enormous sow rolled over in the mud to allow her numerous piglets to suckle while strange looking stray dogs sauntered by, short-haired, wary, thin, and dirty.

I generate a lot of curious stares, but you know what? If you smile and say “Namaste,” putting your hands together in prayer (the traditional greeting) almost everyone smiles. One young girl—so hard to believe she lives there—not only smiled but also spoke English to me. The narrow, crooked alleys eventually bring us to Indu’s house. She is a tiny woman, maybe only 4.5 feet high, 80 pounds, who is the single mother of two boys, Surender and Sikander. I had met Surender in 2005 during my last visit. He never smiled, and had a traumatized look about him. I never forgot him after that first visit. He still had this look, like he could never quite figure out what was happening and who to trust. His younger brother is the opposite. He warmed up quickly and smiles abounded. 

The family was happy to have us come, and also shy. Their home? One room, only 8 feet by 6 feet. I think it is to date the smallest dwelling I have ever entered. I couldn’t stand up all the way. One small square cut into the concrete allowed a rusty fan; that was all the ventilation. A plank served as a bed, covered with a blanket. I could barely fit myself: yet all three live there. Surender is suffering from severe synovitis in his left knee, and he lifted his pant leg to show me; his knee is hugely deformed. It was also hot; he was having an active bleed. We gave some gifts, snapped some photos and chatted about the boys.

(I have tons more photos but have problems uploading just now… please check tomorrow for pics, hopefully!)

When it was time to leave, the family walked us back to the road, with me holding hands with little Sikander. To the left, and covering the length of the entire slum, ironically, is the World Health Organization’s massive, modern, city-block size building. WHO of course is responsible for monitoring and improving the health conditions of developing countries. Just one hundred feet away, its gleaming windows, satellite dishes and massive height dwarfed the pitiful slum. A pretty employee scurried into the building, ignoring us and the ill-dressed impoverished people with us. To add insult to injury, the guards yelled at our driver for daring to park in their parking spot, which of course was empty, save us! Welcome to the world of institutionalized development.

We journeyed on to the next home, where my sponsored child lives. This is my third trip to see Suraj Tanti and his family. I first met them in 2001 and we have maintained a wonderful relationship since. The father, Anil, writes to me several times a year, keeping me updated with the children’s progress, and sending their photos. There are three kids: Suraj (19, but who looks about 14)), Chanda (14) and Shashi (12). Their mother Anita, ever smiling, was also present. Shashi inside the 10 x 10 ft dwelling

We ambled down the broken cement path to their home, populated by random goats, and lined with open run offs, through which ran dirty water and sewage. Despite living in a slum, the Tanti family keeps itself immaculately clean. I actually knew some of the way to their house, and recognized the familiar cement walls, wire fence and neighborhood. Their home is also a one room concrete dwelling, with tin roof and nothing inside but a hard board to serve as a bed— no mattress to ease throbbing joints— and one chair. That’s it. It’s the size of a closet.

Since this was my third trip, and since we’ve maintained contact through the years, all shyness has melted away and we are now very comfortable with one another. “How are Tommy, Tara and Mary?” Suraj asked in perfect English. That made me happy! Shashi piped in, “And Jak?” (our terrier) We hauled out the photo albums they keep under the bed, and looked through all the family photos I have sent them through the years.

Shahsi was having a bleed, but never complained. I left factor with them, about $10,000 worth (equal to over ten years salary for Anil), as I know the father is highly responsible. A local doctor can administer when needed. This saves them all a very long trip to the hospital. We then took a short walk to the little shop where Anita sells candy, small cakes and pens. It earns next to nothing; Save One Life sponsorships really help keep them going.

Krish videotapes my sponsored India family

We had a bittersweet good-bye: I was so happy to have visited, but we knew it would be some time before I returned. Indians normally do not hug in public, but we made some exceptions for the American guest!

We relaxed a bit back at the house, and took lunch with Magi, and her adult daughter. All the food is delicious, including the wonderful staple roti (bread), and there is nothing like Indian desserts—all sweet and milk-based. The family’s hospitality puts a great face to India.

After such a day, we were not done still: Usha and I packed up, parted with many good-byes, and headed out to catch the 6:00 flight to Trivandrum, on the south western tip of the sub-continent. We flew for four hours, an easy flight, arriving at 10:00 pm. Tropical breezes greeted us, along with Joe, the tall, handsome son of George Tharakan, a man with hemophilia and one of the founders of the Hemophilia Federation. Off to the hotel for a long night’s sleep.

India is an amazing country with huge potential. By all rights it could be a superpower, given its young and increasingly well- educated people, which is one of its best resources. But it’s hampered also by its huge population, much of which lives under the poverty line, and by a government that has other priorities. We’re seeing progress in hemophilia, at the government level, and also at the patient level, through programs like Save One Life.

The India Odyssey Begins

Indira, Usha and Krish

I feel like I am in the movie Eat Pray Love. India: where eating is a pleasurable ritual to welcome a visitor like me, where praying is sometimes the only thing left when you suffer a bleed without treatment, and where love abounds when we bring donated factor and funding from Save One Life. It’s Day 2, and I am in Trivandrum, on the very southern border, right on the Arabian Sea. A thundercloud is rolling in, and I expect to be deluged with a monsoon soon.

I’m here as part of a site visit and check up for our nonprofit Save One Life. This is a child sponsorship program for those with hemophilia in developing countries. Despite all our best efforts and our lobbying initiatives, we simply cannot wait for governments to one day buy factor for its bleeding disorder patients: children are dying and we can do something about it right now. Our approach at Save One Life is to match sponsors in developed countries with impoverished children and adults in need in developing countries. I’ve seen it over and over in our 11 partner countries: $20 a month can actually change a life for the better.

With “Magi,” our gracious host

India was our first country to enroll, and is our biggest country partner, with 315 beneficiaries. I’m trying to visit as many as possible. I’ll be visiting about 10 cities in 17 days, logging over 19,700 miles by plane, auto and even overnight train. Totally worth it.

I arrived Thursday night after a smooth 15 hours flight to Delhi, the capital, and was met warmly by longtime friend Usha Parthasarathy, mother of an adult with hemophilia, and our Save One Life liaison in India. Usha worked for many years with the Hemophilia Federation (India) and seems to know everyone. She is dedicated, tireless and totally passionate about helping to improve the conditions of those with hemophilia in India.

We were so fortunate to be able to stay, free of charge, at the lovely home of the mother-in-law of Dr. Shipra Kaicker from Brooklyn, New York, whom I met at our fundraiser in NYC earlier this year. She sponsors a little boy in Delhi (whom I met) and her generous offer helps us to save money. She also visits Delhi and helps patients there medically. There are so many angels like her and Usha in this community, I feel like I live in heaven!

with SOL beneficiaries at Lions Hospital

On Friday we visited Lions Hospital, and were greeted by my dear friend Indira Venkataraman, a 78-year-old who also seems tireless in her quest to help her patients. Indira’s adult son with hemophilia had just died earlier this year, but despite her grief, Indira has not nor will ever quit on her patients. She is always in the clinic, always pouring out her love and concern to the boys.

Krish supporting Andy Matthews’ blog!

With us was Krish, a 36-year-old with hemophilia from Chennai, who has become an important link to all beneficiaries. Krish is the first international employee of Save One Life—and I foresee the day when we are employing people with hemophilia in many countries to run our growing programs. Krish has a full time job in advertising and marketing, but spends many nights each week, working up till midnight, to help us compile reports on individual patients, ensuring funds are distributed and coaching chapters on how to implement the program. I was thrilled to meet him, and was so impressed with his intelligence, education and above all, dedication. He is so passionate about Save One Life! His enthusiasm really gave me a huge energy boost and affirmed that all our hard work to make Save One Life reach the poorest of the poor on this earth has been effective.

With Amit and mother

A group of patients gathered to meet us, among them the child I sponsor, Suraj Tanti. As this is my third trip to India, it was delightful to see him again. The initial awkwardness of meeting from years past has melted away to a feeling of reunion, joyful and enthusiastic. Usha, Krish, Indira and I spent the afternoon meeting with each family individually, taking photos, chatting and answering any questions they had. Yes, it’s very time consuming—a combination of doing social work, journalism and administration. But what a joy, to hear how sponsorship funds have helped keep a young boy in school, or helped a family get medical treatment.

Jittender

One of the boys I recognized instantly was Jittender. I met him first in 2005, and he had a haunted look to him. We immediately got him a sponsor, but the sponsor eventually couldn’t keep up the payments. Jittender lost his sponsorship for a while. This really bothered me. Recently, our own chairperson, Chris Lamb, sponsored him, and Jittender this day looked great, and happy. He has put on weight, his joints look good and best of all, he is going to tourism school! He has a future.

After all the interviews, it was time to return to the house, change gears and then go to the Annual General Meeting of the Hemophilia Federation. Delhi is about to host the Commonwealth Games, and I have never seen so much construction! We maneuvered through rush hour traffic, and arrived at the event location. It was wonderful to see the heads of India’s 65 chapters, many of whom I have met over the past 10 years, in India and overseas. It was such a happy reunion! Dr. Maganti, Raghu, Siddhartha, Dr. Devila, Dr. Suresh, Dr. Ranjani and Dr. Ghosh, Rashid… I only wished I could have stayed longer.

After an opening by Mr. Roy Chowdury, the chairman, I gave an overview to all the chapters about Save One Life. While many chapters are now enrolled with us, eventually we’d like all chapters enrolled. I presented the statistics: 315 beneficiaries enrolled, which means we are transferring over $60,000 dollars to India annually. At least 85% of this goes directly to families; the rest goes to the chapter to help offset administrative costs. Patients get money for food and transportation (always a major problem in developing countries). Krish also gave a report on how the program is implemented, how rigidly accountability and transparency are maintained (meaning, Save One Life is only for those nonprofits that can uphold our very high standards). Afterwards, Krish said he was deluged with requests to join by the Indian chapters. That’s good news, but first, we realized, we must get the 200 children on our waiting list sponsored. You can see their photos and names on our website at www.saveonelife.net.

With Priyanka

One of my greatest thrills was to finally meet in person someone I’ve been corresponding with for months about solving problems. A beautiful young Indian girl rushed over to meet me… Priyanka, a brilliant university student with a major in psychology, who also happens to have VWD. We had been planning to meet for a long time, which was finally here. We both felt like it was a dream, come true. And it was! Priyanka hopes to one day work with HFI when her studies are complete.

Our first full day in India was busy and satisfying. We had a late night meal with “Magi” (Mom), Dr. Shipra’s mother-in-law, and crashed… only to be awoken at 2 am with monstrous pipes being dropped, one by one by one, just overhead as Delhi prepared for another day of laying the foundation of a huge highway. Delhi… the city that never sleeps!

Okay… must run to dinner with colleagues’….more to come including photos in a bit! Please check in later! Remember this is a 19 day odyssey and I will be posting amazing photos, stories and hopefully videos about my journey through India…See this photo of a preview and check back in a day or so…

Count Your Blessings… and Share Them

When you think you are going through tough times with hemophilia, I want you to think of some children I know. Born into poverty, suffering from hemophilia, these children usually have no access to factor, and endure horrific suffering. Some of these children are like Gorla. Gorla is ten-year-old boy from India with severe factor VIII deficiency. He is in the third grade and does miss school due to his disorder. He does not speak English. He has a 13-year-old brother, Yagna, who is also factor VIII deficient. His parents are agriculture laborers, who raise milk buffalos. The family income is only $2 a day.

Imagine trying to live on $2 a day. You can’t just pick up the phone and order factor when you are bleeding. You often cannot even go to the hospital for treatment; there is none. You simply endure it and suffer. Sometimes, you die.

We don’t want that to happen to Gorla. If you want, you can change his life. Save One Life is a nonprofit that provides individual sponsorships for boys like Gorla. In fact, Gorla himself is available to be sponsored!

I founded Save One Life six years ago. I sponsor 5 children with hemophilia personally, and see first-hand the difference it makes in their lives. We currently have almost 200 children in eight countries sponsored, but we have a long way to go. Would you like to help? Consider sponsoring a child in need, like Gorla. Just $20 a month could change his life, and enrich yours. Go to www.saveonelifeinc.org today, and share your blessings.

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