Guru Update: Intrinsic Value of Life

Miss the previous update about my work at the Gandhi Leprosy Seva Sangh? Read it here.

It’s been three months since I first started visiting with Guru, the young boy with Cerebral Palsy who I've been trying to help out. If you are new to Guru's story, see here and here to get caught up.

A milestone day came last week when we took Guru to visit an absolute angel of a caregiver, Vimalbhen, who specializes in Cerebral Palsy (CP) and works at a hospital that treats children with severe disabilities.

I’ve thought from the beginning that Guru should be working with a CP specialist because he has complex physical issues that can only be assisted by trained experts with experience. However, given his malnourished and weak condition when we met, I doubt this kind of work would have been possible.

A precious day

After pushing for an appointment with Vimalbhen for some time, it finally got scheduled. Guru’s mom, Indubhen, was to bring Guru to Manav Sadhna and from there, we would leave to visit the hospital.

In the morning, Manav Sadhna staff and volunteers gather for prayer, meditation, and sharing with each other. I can’t describe the joy, amazement, and happiness I experienced when I opened my eyes after the prayer to see Guru, his baby brother, and mom sitting in the back of the room. I wasn’t expecting them so early, I thought they were coming a little later, but there they were.

Remember that when we started, Guru couldn’t really go outdoors because he was prone to have seizure-like fits. Now, three months later, there he was in Manav Sadhna on the Gandhi Ashram surrounded by about 30 people, after taking a one-hour rickshaw ride in 100 degree heat on frantic Indian streets.

It gives me chills writing about it. Not because I think I’ve done a good job, no, but what a blessing, what a gift. His family had all but given up hope when we first met and now, he took this long ride and was about to get checked out by one of the best CP specialists in the area.

I then had the great privilege of introducing Guru and his family to the Manav Sadhna staff and volunteers who quickly gathered around him and proceeded to love him (and his baby brother) up. This was a great moment for me because I am, in a sense, alone at the community and have only been able to tell stories about Guru, his situation, and progress—this was an opportunity for everyone I know to have an in person experience.

We arrived at Vimalbhen’s office where she immediately made a warm connection with Guru and got him smiling and laughing within the first few moments of their interaction. Here's a short clip of her feeding him a small piece of solid food that, with coaching, he ended up chewing and swallowing.

As I was watching Vimalbhen talk and interact with Guru, that’s when I started to get that life has intrinsic value. That’s when I clearly saw that there is worth to Guru’s life in and of itself (even though you might question that when he can't do anything for himself).

I credit Vimalbhen for this realization because it was in seeing her see Guru that I came to truly understand the value of his fate and the special relationship he has with his mother—his primary caregiver.

We all left that meeting on a high. Guru left with free health insurance for life, a special CP chair (the days of him lying on his back all day are soon over), as well as a treatment plan for his physical rehabilitation. In a sense, he’s lucky for this plan because we were told his disability is as severe as it gets and that most hospitals wouldn’t work with somebody his age so severely disabled—but this hospital is more generous than others and Vimalbhen is confident that good progress can be made over time.

This day also marked the beginning of the end of my work with Guru. He’s seems more stabilized now — happy, even — and is ready to start work with a specialist. There is little more I can do for him.

Facilitating change

With Guru, a change was already wanting to happen, I simply helped facilitate it by showing up at the right time and following my inspiration. I didn’t "do" anything in the traditional sense.

Last but in no way least, one of the best developments that evolved during our time together was how his natural, boyish happiness started to show up.

Guru responds really well to sounds. Whether it’s the sweeping outside, rice being sifted, his baby brother screaming, or us making silly noises—sounds like these always make him laugh and smile.

Seeing him laugh out loud was a big change from the hyperventilating, frail boy that I first met. To me, his laughing and interactivity with us was a clear indication of him becoming more stabilized, grounded, and trusting of the world. You'll really see what I mean if you play the video below.

And so this update closes a major chapter on my story with Guru.

I want to thank you for reading, as well as for your supportive comments, and for the comments on how the story has personally affected you.

Continue to the next update about my work at the Gandhi Leprosy Seva Sangh.