Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I got a call from a friend of mine who attends one of our churches in the city.  He is a large man who has lived for the past 20 years near a slum in Bhandup.  He said that there was a sick lady who had been to some hospitals and could Sheba look at her and give her advice.

I said yes and asked them to come before 3 PM.

They came just after.  The man, the lady, her late-teens son, and another young man.   They had hired a taxi to bring her.  She was not only sick, she was very sick.  Lying on the trolley, she looked like a small collection of rags.

The son was semi-coherent when we asked about the situation.  He said she was weak and had been bed ridden for the past 3 months.   A meager paper trail of a brace of govt. hospitals showed that she had been sent from place to place - each place stating that she was SOS for admission - and each one referring on to the other institution without the doctor even stating what their impression was.

We were puzzled about what to do and tried to call a doctor we knew in the emergency dept of the larger of these govt. hospitals.  While I spent the second half of the evening getting in touch with him (we works at another place and constantly is getting calls), Sheba admitted the lady and asked for tests to be done at Bethany.   We will call her 'Leena.' Sheba then asked Agnes to give Leena a bath.  Leena's hair was teeming with lice so it was cut.  A hospital gown replaced the filthy rags.  Even after the haircut the sheets started showing lice so the nurses got licol to treat her hair.

Hats off to our nurses.  We currently have Agnes holding the fort as our trained nurse - with Sunita and Dipali (the latter on a try-out with us) helping as nurse aides.  But what has made it possible for us to even take Leena in for an afternoon - let alone a whole night - are our two volunteer nurses from the US - Alissa and Amy.  

Not only do we have Leena at JSK tonight - we also have Mr. Natu - a long-term patient of ours admitted at JSK for respite care.  And that too with us having vacated the 3 rooms and the nursing station room in order to make way for rennovation work to be done.  We have set up a temporary ward in the old (and future) minor OT room.

When Sheba came for her night round at 9.15 PM, she found that Vinod, our part-time lab tech had come and processed the blood for the HIV test that we had taken from Leena.

It was HIV positive.

In hind-sight, I don't know why I am so surprised.   Here is a woman who is clearly on the margins.  Her son's reticence about her condition may be down the the stigma of the disease - or to the crushing poverty of their lives.  In either case we have a woman on the edge of death - but who has been brought to the right place by the persistence of a church member.

Will Leena survive?  Hard to say at this point.  Other than the HIV test we don't have any other results back yet.  But to see her loved and in a clean place and prayed for is already a huge step forward.

I am so proud of Sheba and the team who are working in sub-optimal conditions - but are making an eternal impact.


  1. How precious. Thank you for sharing! What a team!

  2. We'll be praying for Leena that God would reveal His great love for her.

  3. Leena passed away yesterday. The funeral took place by the evening and the work that our JSK staff did was really appreciated. She has gone ahead of us to glory!