At one of the markets in West Jakarta, Rachel House’s nurse, Janah, is busy selecting a mattress for her patient. The market is very hot and humid, but that does not deter Janah from her mission of finding a new and comfortable mattress for Dinda* to sleep on.
Dinda is one of Janah's patients. The 10-year old has been constantly on her mind lately. Not only is Dinda born with a disease that severely compromises her immunity, she is also alone in the world with a mother who is sickly and too weak to take care of her.
For both Dinda and her mother, good nutrition and hygiene combined with strict adherence to their medications are the only way to stave off infections that could endanger their lives. However, with Dinda’s mother getting weaker by the day, even putting food on the table has been a challenge. This is one of the reasons why Dinda has been occupying Janah’s mind; she feels totally helpless in trying to change the impending tragedy that seems to be staring at Dinda.
Dinda is plagued with multiple health challenges. Thankfully, this bright and chirpy little girl seems to be able to bounce back each time, complete with a sweet smile on her face. Recently, she has been dealing with a disturbing bout of cough, most likely stemming from the untreated tuberculosis that she has had to deal with since young. Every little thing would set the cough off, even just playing in the puddle of rain outside her house.
With regular care and attention from Janah, closely monitoring her symptoms and adherence to medications, Dinda's cough is finally getting better. During Janah’s last visit to their house, Dinda excitedly informed Janah, "I no longer cough at night now! I am sleeping much better. I have been taking my medications, just like you told me to.” she said with a beaming smile on her face, very proud of herself.
However on this same visit, Janah found multiple lesions on Dinda’s skin. Her tiny body is covered with red splotches and dried scabs from scars left from her scratching. “It’s really itchy. I scratched them in my sleep.” she said while looking down, either at the scars or perhaps feeling guilty knowing that she should not have scratched them.
Puzzled by the skin irritation that has progressed rapidly through her patient’s body, Janah asked Dinda’s mother for permission to inspect their sleeping area – located just next to where they were sitting. The mother and daughter occupied a tiny 2x3m space, where they cook, wash and sleep.
The first thing that caught Janah’s attention was the dirt and dust that had collected all around the mattress that was laid directly on the floor. And it also suddenly occurred to Janah that after months of visiting Dinda’s house, she had never seen a change of bedsheet.
"We only have one set of sheets.” Dinda’s mom said with an embarrassed smile, when Janah enquired.
Janah's heart sank when she heard the answer. She knows that with Dinda’s mother's deterioarating health condition, having money for food and basic essentials is already a huge challenge, let alone buying new sheets.
Back at the office, Janah shared her concerns regarding the health and safety of Dinda and her mother with her colleagues, and recommended that Rachel House help replace the mattress to ensure hygiene, and hopefully heal the skin issues for Dinda. This is what brought her to this hot and humid market this morning, accompanied by a colleague from Rachel House, Arif. After paying for their purchase, Janah and Arif went to Dinda's house to deliver the new mattress. They helped Dinda and her mother clean the space, and then placed the new mattress proudly in the centre of their home, complete with soft new sheets.
It was such a treat to see the big beaming smile on Dinda and her mother's faces. They were absolutely delighted by their new bed. “The sheets are really soft and the mattress so thick and bouncy. This is the comfiest bed ever!" Dinda said excitedly bouncing and rolling around her new bed.
The feeling of tiredness suddenly evaporated from Janah, buoyed along by Dinda's glee and excitement. The joy of just being able to bring a slice of happiness into Dinda’s life is indescribable for Janah. While the roads ahead may continue to be paved with obstacles for Dinda, but today, just for this one moment, she can be embraced in the soft and fluffy new bed.
Note: Dinda’s mother sadly passed away 2 months after, leaving Dinda now in the care of her frail and elderly grandmother.
*name changed for privacy