Aashna squatted on a dirt floor beside brightly clothed women all waiting to see a doctor. Each had different needs, different concerns. For Aashna, this was her only opportunity to help her baby boy. Aashna’s 3-year-old son, Prajivan, stood safely between his mother’s crossed arms. Across his forehead, a cloth bandage covered a bulging “boil-like thing,” as Aashna called it. She wasn’t sure what was growing on her little one’s forehead. For a month, she watched the small bump become larger and larger, while Prajivan complained of his forehead hurting and cried because of the pain. Aashna and her family were poor. Too poor to visit a doctor. Too poor to figure out what was happening to their youngest child. The income she and her husband earned as daily wage laborers cultivating fields didn’t provide enough for “extra fees” such as doctor visits. They made just enough to eat and survive another day. Even if they did have the money for medical care, the nearest hospital was about 43 miles away.
“To go and see the doctor, I would need money, which I don’t have,” Aashna says.
“My husband and I would have to go to the money lenders or landlord, whoever is willing to lend to us. … But then to pay back that borrowed money would take a lot of time. Sometimes it could take more than a year, because with the income we make, we [also] have to run the family. We have five of us, and we have to meet all the financial needs. So that may take a lot of time.”