Monday, February 06, 2006

Buffalo Hospital in Dong-ki-ing-ding Village

On the evening of the 12th of January 2006, as part of my Ph.D. research work for the London School of Economics, I visited the village of Umniangriang located 49 km away from Mairang in the West Khasi Hills district in the state of Meghalaya. I was respectfully received by Mr. Boxstar Nongrang, the 31-year-old intelligent and dynamic Sordar (elected chief) of the village who had been waiting for me with his team of village committee leaders. We got along very well as we were about the same age and had a similar outlook to life. However, he had a long beard and was already married with four kids. The Sordar did not waste any of my time and wanted to show me the dysfunctional infrastructures in his community right away. So we drove for 2 kms down the road to meet the Sordar of the next village of Dong-ki-ing-ding, which happened to be the closest market centre for the all eight villages in the surrounding area.

We were taken to see the hospital that was built by the government about 10 years ago in front of the Christian secondary school. On arriving at the site I was shocked by what I saw. The gates of the hospital were locked forcing us to duck under the broken barbwire fencing to enter the compound. When we got inside I found that the hospital too was locked and had no one occupying it - no doctors, no nurses, no equipment, no medicines, absolutely nothing. To my astonishment I saw two buffaloes sitting in front of the hospital enjoying the grass in the compound. The condition of the hospital was appalling, it was already rotting to pieces as the termites had eaten up all its doors and many windows were broken. So here was the most important infrastructure built to serve the public health needs of all the eight villages in the area, but tragically it never opened for business. Surely it is shameful and unacceptable that after so much has been already spent from public funds to build such a hospital, nothing has been done in a decade to make it functional.

Only bitterness and hurt can be felt when one is faced with wasteful and uncaring behavior from the government making me wonder when the political leaders responsible will wake up and feel concern enough to open the hospital. According to the Sordar the landowners donated the land, which the hospital was built on, on the condition that the members of their family would get some sort of employment from it. That agreement was broken because the hospital was never opened, and now after 10 years of waiting in vain the landowners want to take the government to court. I was also told that many sick people have died in the surrounding villages over the years because they could not get access to medicines in time and they could not afford to go all the way to Mairang for getting hospital treatment for their illnesses. These innocent lives could have been saved if the hospital in the Dong-ki-ing-ding village was fully operational. I spent a night in the village of Umniangriang and visited the thatch house of a single mother who lost her little 1-year-old girl because she had no money and no medicines to save her from her illness. So I question the concerned authorities and their responsibility for the plight of our poor villagers dying from easily preventable diseases. Are they going to continue to shut their eyes and turn a deaf ear while the poor villagers suffer? On my 3-month journey across West Khasi Hills, I found many other villages in the same pathetic state of affairs. So where has all the money for the support and development of these villages gone?

The people whom I met from the different villages asked me to help them out, but being only a research scholar I cannot do much. However I can use the power of my pen to put pressure, to raise public awareness and debate at the local, national and international level about the unfair treatment and injustices that is being meted out to the poor people in my state. After seeing the reality of how our people life in the villages with my own eyes, I am leaving home feeling very sad and angry to finish my academic work in England. But I call upon all the concerned citizens and stakeholders, NGOs and especially the young people who are the current and future leaders of our state to shake up and put massive pressure upon some of the elected sleeping leaders, so that they wake up before its too late.

1 comment:

S# said...

Been a very very long time since we had contat . It is sheer amazing to read about your achievements ... Guess it a story straight out of the pages of Readers Digest..( Ee Ka Laye)

Its really great to see that whatever you do you have your mind & heart in the problems back home.

Wishing you the very best

Shashwat Raizada ( Class of 91)