Anuj’s Journey: A Clubfoot Story for the Festival of Brothers and Sisters

Guest post by MiracleFeet India Executive Director Suresh Subramanian

On August 26, Indians celebrated the Hindu Festival Rakshabandhan, a day on which brothers pledge to always protect and help their sisters. MiracleFeet India’s new Executive Director Suresh Subramanian visited the program’s clinic at Wadia Children’s Hospital in Mumbai shortly after the festival and found the spirit of the holiday exemplified in the patient he met there. 

Rakshabandhan was celebrated last fortnight with the usual fervor associated with the festival in many parts of India.

As I walked into the clubfoot clinic being held at the Wadia hospital, Mumbai, my eyes fell on Shambhu, the only male (at that time) in the clinic. I walked up to him, shook hands, introduced myself and asked him what brought him to the clinic.

Shambhu worked in the store section of the Indian Navy in Mumbai. He was from a tiny village Manjoli in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. He received a call from his father in early April communicating some very distressing news. He had earlier received information that his younger sister had given birth to a boy, but he now heard that his nephew had been born with clubfoot in his right foot and the multiple doctors that had been approached had no clue on what needed to be done. His sister who needed comfort was very shaken up and didn’t know what to do. The family was not doing well economically and had little money to spare, if any.

Shambhu called up friends and others he knew (a network that had been built because of the job he had and the time he put into community service) and soon learned that the Wadia hospital was the best as far as treating children was concerned. He turned up at Wadia and explained, with the limited knowledge he had, about his nephew and the condition he was born with. The medical personnel at Wadia provided him the right advice and he, in turn, called up his family back home and insisted that he bring his sister and nephew to Mumbai for further treatment.

A 14-hour bus journey across mountainous roads brought them to Delhi and from there an 18-hour train trip to Mumbai. His nephew Anuj today had his first brace after completing four casts and the tenotomy, well on his way to recovery.

Shambhu is a proud man and kept referring to how worried his sister was and how he had been able to help her. He has also contributed towards the treatment for another girl affected by clubfoot who is being treated at Wadia and has taken it upon himself to spread the word about clubfoot and how it is curable.

On my way back home, it crossed my mind that we could not have a better example of how a brother stood up for his sister in need. While Shambu’s case reinforces the fact that how children with clubfoot can be put on the path to recovery very fast if they have the right access to treatment, it also wills us towards finding solutions for mothers who have children with clubfoot and who are living in remote, hilly, difficult to access areas.