Kumari, one of our long-time street moms, has been staying at Karunya Mane as she suffers from lung damage. After a recent ten-day stay at a local hospital to recover from a serious case of pneumonia and hypoxia, she came to KM to live. During her first month after being discharged from the hospital, Kumari needed to be on oxygen, and it was a challenge for her to adjust.
While on the street, Kumari sold vegetables or made flower leis, and she worked hard to earn decent wages during the flower season. She was one of the first women we met on the street in 2005, and she did her best to care for her kids even in that challenging environment. See a brief interview with Kumari in our Operation Shanti Introduction Video.
Kumari helped us tremendously through our Street People Program, referring orphans and other destitute children to us and trying to ensure that the other women in our program behaved properly. Kumari has always been reliable, a straight-talker, engages in no drama or B.S., and only cares about the well-being of her kids.
Kumari at KM with little Mohan, her 3-year-old son, and little Adarsh
Kumari, little Nanjunda (nephew), and Sumitra (daughter)
during a visit with grannie Rachamma
The doctors say that Kumari's lungs won't improve and the goal is to prevent them from worsening. A clean-air environment can help immensely. Unfortunately, the pollution in the city would be too much for her lungs.
Her condition has improved a bit, and she doesn't need the oxygen as much, but her right lung "crackles" when the doctor listens to her breathing, so we are encouraging her to stay at KM. She can watch her kids -- Mohan, Sumitra, Prema, and Venkatesh -- at KM grow up, attend school, and enjoy their childhood.
On the way to getting their orange belts -- the kids had a Sunday session with other karate students of the school, practicing what they've learned. In a couple of weeks, they'll be going for their orange belt tests, an all-day event with hundreds of other kids taking karate lessons.
Over the years, we have lost HIV+ women who had also contracted tuberculosis. HIV and tuberculosis is a difficult combination for many reasons, including the toxicity of the medications needed to treat each illness.
One of our street women, Deepti (her name has been changed to protect her privacy), was recently diagnosed with AIDS, and a few weeks later with tuberculosis. Like the other women who died, she was emaciated and could barely eat -- weighing a mere 30 kg (65 lbs). Like the other women we lost, she had a fever for weeks and frequent vomiting and diarrhea. Like the other women we lost, we admitted her to the local HIV clinic, where she started on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Soon after starting on ART, she developed lumps in her lymph nodes. Testing revealed that she had tuberculosis, and she was started on anti-tuberculosis treatment (ATT). But, unlike the other women we lost, her ART medication was changed to accommodate her need for ATT.
Fortunately for Deepti, the doctors today know better how to treat patients with both AIDS and TB. A few years ago this was not the case, and doctors hesitated putting patients on ART when they were already taking ATT for their tuberculosis. Today, these patients have a better chance of survival.
Deepti was discharged from the hospital and, unlike the other women we lost, her health has improved dramatically -- she has gained a few pounds, can eat a full meal now, looks 100% healthier and happier, and is ready to get on with her life. She still has a long way to go, and we hope that she has many good years ahead of her. Since she has no home, does not want to live on the street, and her family has shut her out, she'll be living at Karunya Mane.