I remembered Nirmal Bhuiya yesterday while attending the international sympossium for TB in Delhi.Nirmaljee was our DOTS provider.He volunteered to become one after his daughter who had tuberculosis was cured under the programme in Satbarwa.As I rave about it often,the DOTS providers in Satbarwa were one of the wonders of the world.Their dedication and perseverence and commitment to the cause of DOTS was phenomenal.That was before the government renumeration made it a paid service.These simple villagers pursued the cause of DOTS at considerable costs to their livelihood...paying at times out of their pocket for the transport and things and the government renumeration was not even forthcoming.
Nirmalji contracted tuberculosis one day.He had quietly come into the clinic,had enrolled in and was about to go home when one of the TB workers up-dated me about things.I sat and talked to Nirmaljee for a while,some words of encouragement and promised to visit him at his house.
We made a trip to the village in Dhawadih ,around twenty of us ,after the clinic at around seven at night.Nirmalji had gathered some of the villagers who were extremely hospitable and insisted we visit their houses as well.What struck me was the absolute material poverty.There was a few pots and few pans in the kitchen.Nirmaljee's wife was at the fire cooking some kind of gruel.The three children were hanging around and the mud-house they lived in had two rooms one of which had no roof.There were no animals,nothing.The villagers had pulled in a charpoy where they made some kind of seat for us.
Under the starlit night we sat,we sang some songs for the villagers,we gave him the few gifts we had brought along...and we prayed with them.
The government TB division were asked for some stories for awards to be given for individuals who were into community DOTS.With great joy in our hearts we gave Nirmaljee's story with the hope that it would be a source of inspiration for the community at large and also an incentive for a man so much richer in attitude inspite of the circumstances that surrounded him.
We waited..we waited..and one fine day we received an intimation that his award had been cancelled since it did not give the right kind of message to the public at large!Yesterday reciprocality was one of the aspects of ethics discussed by WHO.