Real lives

Introduction

 

Iodine Uppu

© UNICEF/India/2005
Nine-year old Saravanan and his older brother Gowri Sankar receiving their prize at UNICEF’s exhibition stall on Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) at Trichy

Like many others, nine-year old Saravanan and his older brother Gowri Sankar were attracted by UNICEF’s exhibition stall on Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) at the Federation of Consumer’s Forum of Tamil Nadu (FEDCOT) Annual Conference at Trichy in Tamil Nadu.  The colourful posters, photographs, illustrations, maps and charts depicting successful initiatives made by Tamil Nadu in eradicating IDD during the last six months, were as enticing as the simple games that the young visitors could play and win prizes.


“I know it is iodine uppu”, said Saravanan pointing at the iodised salt packets on display in a corner. 
 “How do you know?”
 “My Miss told in the class”.
“What else did she tell?”  “She said, it is good for health, you must eat only iodised uppu and then went on with our lesson.”
“Did your teacher do any demonstration in the class about iodised salt?”
“Yes. I saw.  It becomes blue.”   Gowri Sankar, Saravanan’s elder brother quickly replied”. 
“Yes, we have a book also in our house”, recalled Saravanan.  

Nine-year old Saravanan is in 4th standard and his elder brother Gowri Sankar, who is in the 5th , have both won the “basket ball” and “dart” games at the UNICEF’s exhibition stall on Iodine Deficiency Disorders at the FEDCOT’s (Federation of Consumer’s Forum of Tamil Nadu)  Annual Conference at Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The visitors to the stall are attracted to play simple games. After winning one game, the visitor is expected to answer at least one question on IDD to receive a prize.

© UNICEF/India/2005
Children were attracted to colourful posters, photographs, illustrations, maps and charts depicting successful initiatives made by Tamil Nadu in eradicating IDD

“How could you do it in the first attempt only?”
 “I was watching others from outside”, said Saravanan  brushing his nose.
“What games do you like?”
“Many”. 
“What are they?
“Lemon and spoon race, Running race and all”
“Did you win”
“Yes, I came first”.


“Do you brothers fight?”
“Yes.  We simply beat each other and sometimes he cries”, said the elder one pointing at Saravanan.
“But when our mother comes I wipe my tears”, said Saravanan.
“Does your mother beat you”. “No, she simply scolds”.
“What does your father say? Does he beat you?”  “No, he is away in Australia”.

“You like to go to school?
“Yes.”
“You have friends”
“Yes, my friend is very sick, he is crying. He cannot come to school”, Saravanan said sadly. “Have you gone to see him?”
“Yes”
“What happened?”
“Fever.  He beats his mother.”
“You miss him”
“Yes, he said looking grimly. 


“My husband died in a bus accident 8 years ago when Saravanan was one year old”,  said Krishnaveni, mother of these two young boys, in a low wavering voice, hiding traces of tears in her eyes.  She lives with her brother who runs a small tea shop. She is a consumer activist with FEDCOT and receives a paltry Rs.300 (approximately US$ 7) as monthly honorarium.  Looking at her, one could hardly believe that she has such a tragedy behind her.  For women like Krishnaveni, courage and endurance come naturally; they not only fight back life but also aim to reach out to make difference in other people’s lives.


 R Pandu Rangarao
 UNICEF Chennai

* “Uppu” is salt in Tamil.

 

 
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