Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Action speaks louder than words

Recently, I heard a story that inspired me. It is a true story about a professor of mine from college days. He was conducting a course on HIV for doctors from mission hospitals to enable them to begin HIV clinics in their own hospitals. It was a 3 week programme and the first week was based in a home for people living with HIV/AIDS in Bangalore. The 20-odd participants, most of them physicians and community-health specialists from various remote areas of the country would have been expected to share a high level of compassion and empathy with the members of the home and yet, there was a palpable sense of uneasiness in the room as many of the doctors were encountering HIV/AIDS in this magnitude for the first time.

The professor entered the room and asked for chai to be served as everyone sat around in a circle and introduced themselves. When the chai came, he did something unexpected. He called one of the children of the home over and sat him on his lap. He then proceeded to share his cup of tea with the child, taking alternate sips as the whole room watched. That single act did more to relieve the tension in the room than any lecture on empathy and identification would have. And when I heard it from one of the participants, I too was inspired. And reminded that great men still live and walk among us. Thank you, Professor OC Abraham. You inspire us......

10 comments:

  1. Nice to hear from you after so long Arpit!

    Honestly I didn't get it how this was so inspiring. Is it becase he shared? Was the child HIV positive too?

    Was he trying to teach that sharing the chai with an affected person does not spread the virus?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the child had HIV and his spontaneous act of love made any words about being compassionated unnecessary

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  2. Arpit,
    I wonder why he did that. Any secretions from the body can have the virus( quoting from the CDC webpage). Only depends on viral load. plus , that s not a very hygienic thing to do. If he had EB virus also it could get transmitted this way. I know of someone who contracted herpes labialis in this manner.

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    Replies
    1. I was hoping some HIV specialist would answer you, but since no one did, I looked up a little bit and found out that although the virus does exist in the saliva, it is in too small amounts to cause infection. Hence even kissing does not transmit the disease unless there is an open wound on the mouth or mucosa. As for hygiene, I think that was the inspiring part. He treated that little child like a member of his own family. I would not think twice about drinking from the cup that a member of my family had drunk from - that was the point. As for the risk of Herpes, EB virus, common cold, etc. etc, that risk we run every day when we drink tea from the chaikadda. Wonder if you've noticed how well (or rather, how badly!) the utensils are washed!

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  3. Maybe he went about it the wrong way.clearly what seems inspiring to you does not appeal to the majority of us.each to his own.his act, even if it made oneparticipant less biased it was worth it.

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  4. Thanks for the post Arpit!

    Fear of HIV is still the main cause of people dying from it - they are so afraid of disclosure that they keep postponing treatment - and often its just too late when they do get help. We lost another lady last night at 3.30 this morning. Her relatives were no where to be found while she was struggling for life - but showed up for the body. Life is grim - and we need a lot more cups of tea shared to change the attitudes of people to those with HIV in our dear nation of Bharat! www.JeevanSahara.wordpress.com

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  5. Simply superb………..marvelous….
    bangalorewithlove.com

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