Monday, March 23, 2009

Meher's New Friend

My childhood friend Mattie arrived in New Delhi on Saturday night. She came from Chicago, so brought more donations from supporters in Barrington and a camcorder so I can continue documenting everything that is happening with Meher. She met Meher today and gave her the very cute clothes sent from parents at Grove Avenue Elementary School.

Meher was very excited both by Mattie and the new camcorder. She invited us to her house and her mother insisted that we drink tea there, despite the fact that her father was sleeping and we didn't want to disturb him! Meher was very excited to have a new visitor and showed us lots of things in her house. She also took a liking to Mattie's digital camera and showed a lot of interest in photography, especially taking pictures of herself!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friends in Berlin

The Berlin Metropolitan School in Berlin, Germany, recently completed a school-wide "Math Week." This included a coin drive fundraiser entitled "It Makes Cents!" The children brought coins in everyday and sorted, graphed, and counted them. The money raised went to both a local and an international cause: the school's new library and Meher.

Here are the school's student council representatives taking all the coins to the bank (complete with a police escort!) . The Drama and Music Department also contributed with proceeds from their production of "Little Red Riding Hood."

This is a graph from Ms. Utecht's first grade class. They recorded the different denominations of coins that came in everyday. The children are excited to know that they are helping a little girl far away in India, and the connection is even more real to them as it is through someone many of them are familar with (I worked at the school for two years before moving to New Delhi.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

All Set For Surgery

On Friday afternoon, Rajesh (a teacher from the Women Centre) and I took Meher to her appointment with Dr. Khazanchi. She was very happy to come with us for a ride, especially as she was very excited and proud to be wearing a new dress that Maggie brought her from America. The picture above shows Meher and Rajesh sitting in the waiting room.
Dr. Khazanchi only needed to see us for a few minutes to measure the damaged area of Meher's scalp and forehead. These measurements will be used to ensure that the expanders (the devices that are like balloons) he puts in will be the correct size. Meher has become more used to him now and sat quietly as he examined her scalp.Afterwards, we went to the nearby fast food restaurant for some refreshment before the ride home. Meher drank an orange Miranda soda before Rajesh took her back to Sarita Vihar.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Surgery Date!

Yesterday, Dr. Khazanchi sent me an email confirming the date for Meher's initial surgery: April 2nd, 2009. Everyone is excited as we have been working towards this for a long time now. The staff at the Women's Centre is ready, having specially re-painted and cleaned in order to have a room ready to accomodate Meher after her surgery.
This Friday, Meher has an appointment at Dr. Khazanchi's clinic so she can be fitted for her expanders (they will put expanders in to increase the healthy tissue available). Once this is completed, everything is ready and we only have to wait for two weeks until the first surgery.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Initial Tests

This afternoon Meher went off to have basic blood and urine tests before surgery. She was very excited to be going on the scooter so I didn't have the heart to tell her what was going to happen, although with her medical history she has experienced testing before.
Dharmender, the head of the Women's Centre, took her for the tests to a reputable medical lab in the neighborhood. He has been instrumental in arranging everything and will provide key support during the whole process.
As soon as the test results come back they will be relayed to Dr. Khazanchi so he can see if anything needs to be rectified and then set the date for the surgery (we are anticipating sometime later this month).

Monday, March 2, 2009

In the Classroom

Meher attends the creche or nursery program at the Women's Centre. Her teachers, Archana and Rita, are English students of mine. Today they were telling me about Meher in their class: apparently she is very bossy towards the other students, which is no surprise! But they also told me that sometimes they feel this comes out of being defensive and they are so happy about her upcoming operation as she has difficulty using her hands in the same way as other children already and they have not started writing a lot or doing extensive schoolwork. For example, they do exercise class every morning and one of the activities involves clapping your hands together. Meher cannot clap her hands- she can put her hands together, but it does not sound or look like clapping like the other children.
They also showed me the handprints they made with the children (Meher's is in the picture above). They said after Meher made her handprint (she used her less damaged hand, but it did not look the same as the other children's prints) she was looking for her pinky and insisted on painting it on as she felt very bad that her handprint was incomplete as compared to the others.
The surgery date will be set as soon as the results of some preliminary blood tests come back. Everyone is ready and waiting to support Meher and her family as much as possible.