Sonu is like any other child from his village in Raghopur (Vaishali district), Bihar. A bit intimidated when we met him, he was soon confident and showed us how fast he could run around the MSF car parked at the entrance of the village. He is full of life.
Sonu Kumar with his mother in Raghopur, Bihar © Nancy Barrett/MSF
He had been cured of Kala Azar a few months ago. We met his mother, Sakuntala Devi. She recounted the story of her son’s illness, who is now a happy three and half year old.
“Sonu fell sick toward end of last year. He had fever. We went to see some doctors and had to take debts to pay for all his medical tests. Chest X ray, urine and blood tests, travel expenses and doctors’ fees together cost around INR 20,000. I have seven children and my husband is a labourer. This large amount of money was more than we could afford. Though we did what we were told by doctors, Sonu did not get better and we were desperate for help.
A neighbour advised me to take him to the primary healthcare center (PHC) of Raghopur andhave Sonu checked for kala azar. I did it with very little hope. Sonu had been sick for three months and he was growing weaker every day. We were very scared, fearing the worse.
At the PHC, Sonu was diagnosed with kala azar and was immediately transferred to Sadar Hospital in Hajipur as he needed intensive care. The doctors gave him four injections within a week. Sonu started to feel better soon. I could see that in his eyes. They were sparkling again. Without this proper diagnosis and treatment, my son could not have been saved. I know that. To watch him play with other children of the village is the biggest joy of my life. I enjoy every moment of it.”
Sakuntala did not have tears but I noticed that while telling the story, she would not let go of Sonu, holding him tighter in her arms. Sonu, who is full of energy, did not want to stay still. He wanted to run again. We all went out from the hut, where the interview took place, running and playing with Sonu and his friends. We were celebrating life!