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Where does my motivation come from?

This question suddenly flashes Rashida’s face in front of my eyes, a mother I met in Rajasthan.

I was shocked to learn myself that India has the highest number of children dying – 20% of the global total. Don’t they remain mere numbers till something strikes you and stays with you?

When I entered Rashida’s house, she was rocking her son Kashib to sleep.

“He (Kashib) is two but he doesn’t talk or walk, whimpers while awake and sleeps the rest of the time. I feed him tea and biscuits. Everytime he eats he throws up.” Rashida informed.

Kashib is severely malnourished and Rashida, equally frail, looked despondently at us and then her child. Did I have an answer to the question that I saw in those eyes? I didn’t back then.

Something within me just moved. It was my turn to feel helpless in that instant.

The problem, till we see them at such close quarters, remains somewhere ‘out there’. Not my problem, neither yours, but only theirs who are born poor and left to heave the burden of existence.

The age old fatalism and lack of education combine to make poor mothers and children suffer and succumb to deaths, which in most cases can be prevented. Many children in the locality we visited had died either of pneumonia or diarrhoea, many more survived, but are in dire need of nutrition to help them survive. Most women continue to deliver babies at home with the help of traditional midwives.

Indian government schemes – National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) were thought to be relevant responses to the needs of poor millions. However, these government policies have failed to reduce the numbers of children dying in India at a fast enough rate.

Rajasthan loses 13 children every hour, each leaving behind a heartbroken family.

For God’s sake! They are not just statistics but a personal tragedy for India.

I am outraged and will do the best I can to make a difference. And EVERY ONE must work to change this reality.

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