How the story of little Fasil continued

by Saskia Hankel,  2010/10/13

After having spent two weeks in Pakistan on a humedica mission, nurse and medical student Saskia Hankel has returned to her hometown Bochum. Her thoughts, however, are still with the victims of the flood disaster; above all with little Fasil.

With his body weight of 3200 grams, ten month-old Fasil looks rather like a newborn child. Photo: humedica/Saskia Hankel

“I have been back to Germany for a few days now. And I needed this time to come to terms with all the experiences I have had and to write down the story of little Fasil.

In my first Thoughts from Pakistan, I have already told you about the ten month-old boy called Fasil who weighed only 3200 grams and whom we could take to the nutrition centre run by the organisation “Doctors without Borders” after making a lot of efforts to convince his parents.

Dear friends and sponsors, I would love to tell you that we found a well-fed little boy on his way to recovery when we visited Fasil and his family the next time. But sadly, reality sometimes is different.

Three days after having met Fasil, we once more set up our mobile hospital at the camp where we had first picked up the boy and his family and after two hours of “hospital routine” I unexpectedly met the look of a dark pair of large eyes: Fasil’s mother was standing in front of me with her motionless and famished child in her arms.

Fasil’s mother was obviously relieved to see us – I in turn was shocked. I asked her why she no longer was at the nutrition centre, where Fasil would be safe and in good care. She explained that her husband had had to take up his work in the city once more and that she had five more children who could simply not be left on their own.

Dr Petra Kranz-Ries (left), Saskia Hankel and Isaac, one of our numerous Pakistani assistants. Photo: humedica/Simon Gelzenleuchter

Therefore she had had to return to the camp. She pointed at Fasil’s eyes and it was only then I realised that they were completely stuck shut with pus and that he was unable to open them.

I started cleaning his little eyes. It was terrible. Only after I had removed the crust, could I pull the eyelids apart and pus started flowing out off the eyes like tears. I had only seen such quantities of pus when opening the numerous festering abscesses.

After I had cleaned the eyes completely and had applied eye drops, I was looking into two big wide eyes which were smiling at me. I had to fight down the lump in my throat and tried to control my emotions.

This completely unexpected smile, however, caused me to lose my composure. I cried. I cried silently while I continued treating Fasil. I cried with emotion and desperation. Fasil’s smile and the smile of his mother expressed so much gratitude and hope. Hope that we could help.

While adults can generally draw on more remaining energy reserves, it is the children in particular who suffer from continuing undernutrition. Photo: humedica

Since Fasil is unfortunately not the only case of severe undernutrition, we held a team meeting in the evening and thought about what we could do to help the children. We decided to drive to the camps and show the mothers how to prepare a high-calorie mash by themselves and feed it to their children.

When we returned to Fasil’s camp two days later in order to demonstrate the food preparation, the little boy looked much better. His mouth was smeared with mash and both he and his mother were smiling brightly. I was glad to see him in this condition and it made my departure the next day a little easier.

Back to Germany I was told by our coordinator Simon, who has been fighting against undernutrition and for those children for almost three months now, that the state of little Fasil had deteriorated once more. I sincerely hope that he will recover again.”

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica, undernutrition in children is reaching an ever more serious extend, and also adults are more and more weakened by the lack of food. We have already told you about little Aishe, who has unfortunately lost her struggle for survival and died, since her small body had no reserves left.

In cooperation with the charity campaign Sternstunden e.V. of the Bavarian radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk, humedica will therefore soon initiate a nutrition programme in order to save the lives of many more children like Fasil and Aishe.

Please support our efforts to offer direct help to needy people in Pakistan. Your can send a text message containing the reference word DOC to +49 8 11 90, make a donation via our online form or to the account below. Thank you very much.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Flood relief Pakistan
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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