The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star booster for child welfare unit

For years, Children in Pain (CHIP) has been trying to set up a specialist paediatric hospital. The NGO, working to improve child health in Tangra and Dhapa, in east Calcutta, has even secured the pledge for a plot of land in Jadavpur.

The trouble, as usual, is money. The NGO, which operates mainly with the help of volunteers, has been covering ground through donations from concerned Calcuttans.

On Friday, a city corporate stepped up to pledge support to the CHIP cause. ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton Hotel & Towers announced that it would help the NGO’s long-term activities.

To kick off the partnership, food packets were sent for around 50 kids at the Tangra CHIP House. The home is a centre where kids are taught vocational skills and rhymes and given tips for school. It also is a base for the medical outreach programmes for mother and child.

“We started with health camps for kids, but to be most effective, you have to work with the mothers as well,” explains trustee Chandra Shekhar Mukherji, a pain specialist and neuro-psychiatrist.

The Bypass hotel also announced that it would be involved with future fund-raising activities of CHIP.

“Rather than work with a number of different organisations, we wanted to tie up with one NGO that is in line with our objectives. Not only is CHIP doing excellent things, it is also working in our neighbourhood,” says Ranvir Bhandari, general manager of the hotel.

Plans are on to organise arts and entertainment events, where a portion of the proceeds will go towards the NGO’s activities. Contributions of food will be a regular feature.

For the time being, CHIP is providing all the medical aid it can with limited infrastructure. Monthly mother-and-child clinic and immunisation camps take care of basic needs. Medicine and check-ups for needy kids is also sponsored.

“Malnutrition is the biggest problem, followed by respiratory ailments. Gynaecological problems and teen pregnancies are also prevalent,” explains Chand Bhargava, a general practitioner associated with CHIP. Specialist orthopaedic, chest and developmental attention is also in the pipeline. When the hospital is functional, disability like autism, will be a focus area.

Links with over 40 schools in the project area help spread awareness. Training programmes with teachers keep kids in class.

Camps on sexual health and hygiene, pollution and career counselling are part of the year-round campaign for the NGO, which works in close collaboration with mental-health professionals.

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