The Chingari Trust- A Great Success Among Continued Difficulty in Bhopal

Today, 29th November, 2017, just days before the 33rd anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster, the Chingari Trust held a press conference in Bhopal. Medical staff and Community Team members, from the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre, addressed the assembled press explaining their outstanding work and the successful treatment of sick and disabled children visiting the centre.

The children visiting Chingari are all born with mental or physical problems resulting from one or both of their parents having been exposed to Union Carbide’s toxic chemicals- either through the 1984 gas disaster, or thanks to the continuing contamination of water supplies or, in some cases to both.

While there is much to celebrate, given the remarkable results of the work being carried out at Chingari, staff and Trustees also bemoaned the fact they were nowhere near being able to keep up with the need around the communities affected by the crisis of chemical contamination.

Press Statement, from the Chingari Trust, 29 November 2017

REHAB SUCCESSFUL FOR CHILDREN WITH CONGENITAL DISABILITES DUE TO UNION CARBIDE/ DOW CHEMICALS GAS LEAK- CHINGARI TRUST

Chingari Trust has been working on the rehabilitation of children, born in the second and third generation to families suffering from the gas leak of Union Carbide/ Dow Chemical, for the last 10 years. Today, close to 900 children are registered with Chingari Trust, of which around 193 come to Chingari (regularly) and are given physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, nutritional diet and transportation facilities absolutely free.

In relation to the treatment of these children, dr. Rishi Shukla (Physiotherapist) talks about his experiences, “For the past 9 years, physiotherapy is being given to these children by the Department of Physiotherapy and we see remarkable changes. One third of the children who could not sit well are able to sit today. There are about 68 children who were able to stand but could not walk, today they are walking. Apart from this, there has been a change in approx. 20% of the children who have been treated here; those children who could not even sit have started running today. I believe that the life of these children can be made better by giving them physiotherapy.”

Describing her work, Dr. Zeba Ahmed said, “The Sensory Integration division, on an average day, treats 44 children with autism, hyperactive behavioural problems, sensory disorders, or developmental delays. In my 5 years of experience at Chingari, I have seen that these children have improved considerably. These children have come to listen to, and understand things, up to a certain point. There are 9 children who have even started going to normal school.”

Speech Therapist Nausheen Khan says, “ We currently have 172 children, of which 125 take speech therapy every day. There are 64 children whose problems of chewing and swallowing have been cured and their drooling has stopped, 46 children have started speaking simple sentences, and 26 children are now speaking fluently. Today, of the 51 hearing impaired children who had never heard any sounds, 20 have started listening and are now able to understand simple sentences.”

Regarding the Special Education Department, Irfan Ahmad says, “ A total of 153 children get special education in our department. 38 of these are now going to regular school and 19 more will soon follow. There are 57 children who could not read before, but are now able to do so and 39 children can complete activities. 83 children who children who were unable to complete their daily chores before coming to Chingari are now able to do so. This year 9 children are going to normal school and 42 children are going to normal school just since 2015.”

Community Team members informed that currently Chingari Trust has approximately 900 children registered of which close to 200 come on a daily basis. The Community Works Department is active in ensuring regular health checks for these children, helping with their social security pension, miscellaneous certificates, railway passes, ration cards, and brining about awareness of other governmental schemes. Apart from this, community meetings are held on a regular basis covering such issues as miscarriage and infant care in the gas and water afflicted settlements.

The management Trustees and co-founders of Chingari Trust, Champa Devi Shukla and Rashida Bee said, “We are happy that these children have changed so much. Those kids who could not even sit down  are running today, those who couldn’t’ speak are talking fluently and are moving forward in their education. But, we are also saddened by the fact that of the approx. 900 children registered with us, we are only able to work with 193, and there are many more born into gas and water pollution families who are neither registered with us nor able to avail of these facilities ‘til today.”

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We believe Dow & DuPont must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.