Continuous effort has brought remarkable transformation on a patient’s life after being rescued from a cage she was locked in for 25 years. Maya(Name Changed) was locked in a cage by her parents 25 years ago when she was found to have mental health problem. After being rescued from the cage, her state of health is improving under the observation of the doctors.
A Jail or a cage is not enjoyable to any person. Being locked in one for even 1 hour turns out to be the most difficult part of a person’s life. Everyone hopes that they don’t have to face such situation in their life. But for some people the situation turns out to be a reality due to some incident of circumstances in life. Being locked up because of some mistake or weakness is a kind of punishment for them, but having to stay in a cage without any weakness or mistake cannot be justified. Parents getting their children locked in a cage are in no anyway acceptable.
Dayasingh Tamang(Name Changed), a resident of Bharatpur Municipality-18, (Mangalpur VDC-7) locked his own child Maya, 46, in a goat shed nearby her house since 25 years due to her mental illness. She has been rescued and admitted to Bharatpur hospital for her treatment. Continuous effort was applied to rescue her after a national daily published her story, and she was ablel to receive free treatment for her illness.
Fourty six years old Maya, second among three daughters, suffered from severe mental illness since she was 17 years of age. After Maya her two younger brothers were affected by the illness. First elder son and then the younger son became suffered from mental illness and this made the entire family even more worried. Parents could not afford treatment for all three of them at the same time, and therefore Maya had to be locked in a goat shed.
At the age of 16, Maya was married to a person chosen by her relatives. He was from Nawalpur, Nawalparasi. Her father, Dayasingh mentioned that after getting married, she was not supported by her family, was beaten by her husband, did not get enough food to eat, and was treated her badly, after which, she started visiting them more. After trying hard to tolerate all these for over a year, Maya started having problems of sleeplessness, felt isolated, did not talk to people, and couldn’t eat. She was even taken to the faith healers by her parents and as that did not yield any change, she was admitted to Patan hospital and was treated there for three months.
Even though there were some improvement in her health there, she was not completely cured and so, she was taken to Ranchi, India for treatment. After 8 months of treatment there, Maya’s health started improving. She needed regular care and had to take medicine for long period. However, when her family could not continue her medication, her problems started resurfacing. When, her problems relapsed, the family did not care for her treatment. Consequently, Maya suffered through the same old situation.
‘We tried to treat her illness, but nothing worked and then we didn’t want to think much about it’, said Dayasingh. He also said that he was compelled to lock her in the shed because they were scared that she might escape when they were not at home. Previously they locked her inside the house and later she was taken outside the house in a nearby goat shed. Her parents informed that she used to stay in the shed in-spite of hot or cold weather, she used to eat there and used to defecate there.
After Maya, her brothers were found to have same mental illness, due to which, Dayasingh could not continue her treatment. He took his elder son for treatment in Patan Mental Hospital and also in Rachi, India. Doctors, suggested him to give regular medicine to his son but that was not followed and his elder son too could not be treated properly. Dayasingh’s younger son is still under medication. Dayasingh could not afford the treatment for three children. He tried seeking support from various people and organizations but no one showed any interest.
Dayasingh said that he tried to ask support from the political leaders who came to their place during election campaign, but they too did not show any interest.
How were Maya and her brothers rescued?
Our colleague came to know about this incident while participating in a program which was conducted in 12 VDCs of Chitwan by TPO Nepal. Dayasingh had come to the health post to seek information about the free treatment that was provided there. He was worried about his children. He was worried because three of his family members had this problem. His daughter was struggling with the illness since 30 years; one of his sons had it for more than a decade and his younger son since three years. He had to sell his land for their previous treatments and could not afford any further treatment. Our colleague told him that We were actively involved in research about mental health and that We also have been helping to deal with the issue through media. He asked for our support to seek help from organization that would help him to treat his children.
We accepted his request went to his house with his permission. Dayasingh was busy harvesting potato and we could not talk to him on that day.
Next day We went there with health activist, Bimala Sharma. We saw Maya locked inside a goat shed 40 metres away from their house. After getting some information about the situation, Bimala Sharma went back to her own work. We tried to get more information about the necessity of being locked in a shed and also about her treatment.
They wanted support through media and Our colleague published the news on a national daily and a local newspaper with their permission. News was published on the international day of violence against women on 9th of Mangsir.
After no one showed any interest even after one week of the publication of the news, our colleague tried to request political parties and human right activists for their support. They listened to the incident but did not give any response. They said they were busy. Then he talked to CDO, Man Bahadur BK, about the incident. He took it with interest and district coordinator of BadriTimalsina also committed to provide possible support in this issue. Our colleague met them regularly to implement their commitment and lobbied them to visit Maya’s house to get firsthand information about her.
After they saw that Maya was locked for 25 years, they said that they would initiate support for her. Mental health specialist Mahendraraj Neupane agreed to provide free treatment for Maya and her brother Kumar on 23rdMangsir. Our colleagueI updated the situation to leaders of political parties and CDO, after which, an ambulance along with three vehicles went to Maya’s house to rescue her. Some journalists present during her rescue. After Maya and Kumar’s rescue, their parents conveyed their gratitude for making their cost free treatment possible and for ensuring the employment of Kumar in Bharatpur Hospital after his treatment. We were satisfied that we could support her to get free treatment.
Condition after being rescued.
Doctors involved in their treatment said that their situation is progressing. Special treatment has been given to Maya who was locked for 25 years. Dr. Mahendraraj Neupane mentioned that her situation has improved and is progressive. He also said that because of irregular intake of medicines previously, they seem to take some time to react in her body. ‘Her brother is able to take medicine on his own and is able to have two way conversation’, said Dr. Sunil Shah who is also involved in their treatment. He said that if Kumar regularly takes the medicine, he would be able to work at home and can take care of himself.
Bharatpur hospital has managed their free treatment and also food for one care taker. ‘Among two of them, Kumar seemed reluctant to take medicines and didn’t talk much but now his situation is improving’, said Dr. Mahendra Raj Neupane, He mentioned that taking regular medicine can bring him back to normal condition.
Dr. Sunil Shah said that if not treated, condition of Kumar would have been worse but now it was progressive. Dayasingh said that his children were properly taken care of by the hospital and therefore condition of his children was improving. Mental health expert Giriraj Bhantana said that it is taking long for medicine to start working because it was not taken regularly before.