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15-yr-old attempts suicide twice

By admin / Posted on 30 August 2010

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HOUSE visits to disabled persons in Mahaica by Pandit Suresh Sugrim of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc. Humanitarian Mission, partnered by the Berbice branch of Guyana Women in Development (Guywid), members of the Berbice youth arm of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, the Golden Om Dharmics, and medical personnel, including medex Savitri Mohan, revealed some distressing features of life in the rural areas of Guyana.

One specially-poignant social vignette was the sight of disabled-by-stroke 68-yr-old Bhagwandai Paltu being singly cared for by her 15-yr-old granddaughter, Sharda Sugrim. Sharda’s father is dead and her mother remarried. Apparently her mother who, along with her stepfather, are very poor subsistence farmers in the Mahaica Creek area who lost all their produce to floods several times, took her out of school to take care of her crippled and ailing grandmother and her 73-yr-old grand father, Mohan Paltu, who supports his little family on his pension, augmenting this with fish that he catches occasionally.

Sharda also has a handicapped 17-yr-old sister and a 13-yr-old who lives with her parents, but Sharda feels bereft and abandoned, and has become so depressed that she twice attempted suicide – once by ingesting gramoxone, and another time by swallowing a handful of tablets meant for her grandmother. Sharda attends mandir, and one wonders why the elders and priest do not take interest in the affairs of this sad and vulnerable family in their community.

Medex Savitri says that the elderly woman, who suffers from several ailments, does not get her medication on time because she does not have the wherewithal to travel to the health centre at Cane Grove.

The medex says that there are several bedridden cases who need home visits, some of which the team visited and helped, but she says that she is unable to help them because of the far distances where they liv e. She said that if a motor scooter could be provided to her then these persons would not be neglected because the Ministry of Health has instituted many programmes in the rural areas that facilitate adequate healthcare for residents, but this can be accessed only by persons who are mobile.

Sharda, who is extremely beautiful, also suffers from a growth in her left eye, which she says ‘sticks’ her sometimes.
This fragile, petite young girl is drowning in responsibilities that would overwhelm an adult, and the situation, along with emotional privation from being fatherless and a mother who does not seem to care, is taking its toll on her emotionally and psychologically.

Pt. Sugrim elicited a promise from her not to attempt to take her own life again, and he undertook the commitment that their basic needs would be provided for in future, beginning with the provision of books to Sharda, who says that she loves to read, as well as a small stipend each month through a voucher system.

A tearful Sharda responded to the hugs of group20members with a hunger that tore at the heartstrings, leaving one to wonder how many Shardas are out there, hungry for a hug that may save a life.

 

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