“An Eye-Opening Summer” by Adiba Mobin

2015 Child Rights Essay Competition: 1st Place, Group 3 (College/University Students)

Adiba Mobin – Austin, TX / University of Texas, Austin

Adiba MobinAs I spent my summer as a volunteer in DCI’s Healthcare for Underprivileged Program in the Kallyanpur slums, I had not anticipated it to be one of the most eye opening experiences I had ever been a part of. Going into my internship with DCI, I was well aware of the nature and extremity of the environment I was about to become immersed in, but I was nowhere near ready for the emotional impact it would have on me. Every new day I was more and more excited when I would come into the clinic as I continued to witness the incredible dedication that the staff put into each and every single patient that came through the door. Coming in from a first world country, I had my preconceived notions of what the healthcare system was even capable of in third world countries such as Bangladesh. I was truly astonished to see the high level of quality health care being provided there, along with the respect and value each patient was given.

Despite the challenging geographics of the area, paired with the arduous demographic being treated, the HUP clinic was aiding the residents of the Kallyanpur Slum in overcoming their adversities . As the HUP clinic would turn away no one in need, they turned a blind eye to these adversities, thus restoring a level of humanity to the inhabitants; they were actually being treated as human beings there, as fellow Bengalis, and not refused treatment based solely on their financial standings. The care for these patients was not just of a one visit period, but was entirely holistic, starting from the initial diagnosis of the doctors, to the persevering social workers of the clinic, who made it their duty to then follow up with patients in their own homes, and it wouldn’t even end there. DCI was genuinely interested in the wellbeing of everyone who came to them for help.

Aside from the daily workings of the clinic, I was also attending bimonthly information seminars led by the HUP doctors and social workers, who worked with groups of both adolescent girls and also expecting mothers, while they instill knowledge into the attendees. While at first I thought that all of the information that was being presented in these seminars was just common knowledge , I momentarily put myself into the shoes of one the girls or the mothers, and realized that this common knowledge that I have taken for granted by being brought up in a first world country, is actually not common knowledge in this third world slum, and then I truly realized the deep value of these seminars, as these attendees would most probably not receive this type of vital information elsewhere ranging from healthy hygiene and sanitation habits to all of the steps of prenatal and antenatal care. Unfortunately so, it is nothing but the truth that due to the need to be able to sustain families in the Kallyanpur slums, that the need to educate children from a young age is completely overshadowed. The mentality in the slums is that if you are physically capable of earning a wage to feed your family, that trumps any serious need to receive even a basic level of education. Many nonprofit organizations such as DCI have set up many clinics in countries similar to Bangladesh, to not only provide health care but to be able to provide basic education with regards to taking care of your body. Again, the awareness these organizations raise on basic concepts such as healthy hygiene habits, healthy sanitation habits, safe intercourse practice, and more, while these may be ideas we often take for granted these concepts are very, very important to teach to those who have no access to a basic education, or even for those who are unable to read and write as a result of never having received a basic education. Of course, it can always be easy to just hand your patients a pamphlet on a generic health topic and expect them to answer any questions a patient may have, but now let’s consider the fact that the patient is illiterate and also very poor and cannot afford even the simplest of health care…now what do you do? This is where in-person verbal seminars play a very important role in the effort to raise health care awareness, through a verbal exchange of ideas and discussions. This is exactly what I had witnessed in the HUP clinic as well, which allows me to put a greater trust and confidence in the true mission of organizations such as DCI; when they enact simple programs such as verbal discussions with the teens or adolescent girls of a poor, slum community, it is now ensured that every demographic is being taken care of even just being considered. I know for a fact that Bangladesh is not the only country to face issues and adversities such as these, but change starts at the root level with simple ideas and just the heart to help those who really need it. I am extremely proud to have volunteered at DCI’s HUP clinic, as I feel they are doing a tremendous job at aiding the people of our motherland.