Kanica, our physiotherapist in the Handimachal Kullu Therapy Unit, sent me a message a few days ago, giving good news about Saarika, a 15 year old girl from a nearby village. Saarika lost both parents and lives with her uncle’s family, and she does not go to school anymore (in India, education is compulsory until 14). Saarika has been receiving physiotherapy treatment in our Unit since November 2010, to solve the partial facial muscle paralysis she has been suffering for six months (Bell’s Palsy), resulting in the loss of sensations, chewing difficulties and problem in closing her eye.
Thanks to electric muscle stimulation, facial massage and exercises provided by Kanica, and thanks to Saarika's regular attendance, her situation is really improving and we can see a clear smile on her intelligent face. With a few more sittings, her facial muscles should come back to normal.
When I asked whether she would go back to school again, Kanica enquired about it and the answer was: « No, in my family we don’t allow girls to go to school ». So behind the visible impairment suffered by Saarika comes the hidden and unavowed social handicap situation faced by so many in rural villages: being a girl…
Dominique, 13 January 2011