Being A Parent

As you probably might have noticed, I have not been posting regularly since last Friday. It has been a difficult week for my family and me. It has been a difficult week especially for my 5-year old daughter.

I may have mentioned to some of you that my wife and daughter have gone on vacation to Bangladesh for the summer. This is my daughter’s first trip to Bangladesh. Unfortunately last Friday my daughter was stricken with bacterial diarrhea and vomiting. This illness, unfortunately, is an all too common one for millions of children in the Third World. It is serious and too many children succumb to it worldwide.

My daughter became severely dehydrated from continuous vomiting and was admitted to a hospital on Friday night. The doctors hydrated and stabilized her at the hospital. She was given IV fluids to replace the fluid she was losing. Then the long wait began. She finally started to eat a few days ago and her diarrhea has started to slow down. She was diagnosed with E. Coli poisoning from either contaminated food or water. She was discharged from the hospital yesterday and is now showing signs of improvement. I remain concerned about her. Her mother has been constantly at her side through this ordeal.

I am grateful to the doctors at Apollo Hospital in Dhaka for taking such good care of my little girl. I am especially grateful to the nurses who took care of my daughter and to  Dr. Anjan Bhattacharya, her primary doctor.

As a parent, I do not believe there is anything worse in this world than bearing your child’s suffering. It is the most helpless feeling in the world. When your child is that sick, it focuses your mind on what is really important in this world.

Yet we are the lucky ones. My daughter received excellent medical care. That care should not be a privilege reserved for the few. Complications from diarrhea lead to about 2.2 million deaths of children in the Third World each year. That is a staggering number – and a preventable one. Death from diarrhea is preventable by oral rehydration therapy. The incidence of diarrhea can also be reduced by improving sanitation in the Third World.

Millions of children, our most precious resource, are losing their lives each year. Millions of mothers and fathers are grieving their loss. We are so desensitized by the images from the Third World that we have come to accept this abomination as normal. We are all human. The pain we feel when our own children are suffering is the same pain a parent in the Third World feels when going through the same. The pain a helpless child feels is the same no matter what economic class the child is born into.

I have argued before that the War on Terror has to address the roots of frustration amongst the world’s peoples. That frustration starts with poverty. Not being able to feed or nurse one’s child must be unimaginable frustration. Freedom is probably the furthest from the minds of a grieving parent or a suffering child. If we want to change the world, we should start with the world’s poor. I am tired of hearing from right wing blowhards that people are poor because they are lazy. I want to take one of these blowhards and deposit them with no food and money and no resources in a remote Third World village. I want to see them fight for freedom from those conditions.

Improving conditions in the Third World so that the world’s children are not dying at such an alarming rate is not a difficult task. It takes only commitment and some resources from the developed world. The $10 billion we spend every month in Iraq could instead change the face of this world in a hurry if used for improved sanitation and access to rehydration therapy in the Third World. Then we would really be fighting for freedom – the freedom to exist.

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22 Responses to Being A Parent

  1. PrchrLady says:

    Hello Mash, I hope your daughter makes a complete and speedy recovery. And yes, you are right, so much of the pain and suffering could be prevented. and for those who aren’t aware, the US is quickly catching up with many of the third world countries. The solutions are not going to be easy, and they will not happen as quickly as we like, but they will come. One of my favorite books, is ‘It takes a Village’. Whether we like her or despise her, it makes no difference. More people should read it. Again, I am glad your daughter is improving. Is she still abroad?

  2. Mash says:

    PrchrLady, my daughter is still abroad. We want her to recover before she travels. I appreciate your note.

    I haven’t read Mrs. Clinton’s book, though I hear it has gotten great reviews. I guess healthcare apparently does not get you votes these days. Its more popular to bomb other countries. ~X(

  3. Robbie says:


    I pray for your daughter’s speedy recovery. The health care situation is maddening. Over the past three years I’ve had to put off visits to the doctor because I didn’t have adequate health care coverage or the funds to pay the deductibles, so this post struck home.

    I am thankful I have a good job where once I start making a commission check again, I won’t have to worry the next time an emergency comes up.

  4. Ingrid says:

    Dear Mash, I trust that your daughter will remain on the right course and fully recover. It sounds she’s being watched over by many good hospital staff so, since you’re far away, keep your ‘mantra trust’ because I can imagine that it is hard to do. Isn’t it that being a parent ought to make people see the priorities better? However, Bush and Co is comprised of parents as well so it always boggles me as a parent myself, that they can so frivously send soldiers to fight a war. I say frivously on purpose, because in this day and age (even in the supposed war on terror but hey, we know who started first and that happened way before 9/11)if you really (!!) do not want any harm to befall anyone, you can find an alternative solution. It’s about political will and just the plain will of a parent who says, I don’t want these kids to fight in a war? But, this war is about economics and not terrorism..and greed triumps..for the time being. I guess only some people become better human beings when they become parents..

  5. Rezwan says:

    Praying for a quick recovery of your daughter.

  6. Miraj says:

    Dear Mash,

    I pray for your sweet little angel to get back on her feet so soon.
    You are unique to think of other’s suffering in these moments.
    God bless you and may you won’t be put in such position again.


  7. Mash says:

    Robbie, Ingrid, Rezwan & Miraj, I appreciate your thoughts. Even though we are far flung, blogging truly is its own community. Even though we communicate by reading and commenting, it is somehow immediate and personal.

    My daughter is continuing to improve. Not surprisingly, she has lost a lot of weight. But she is in better spirits and starting to eat well.

    I’ve gone through this experience on a previous visit to Bangladesh. I am sure most of you who have visited the Third World have also gone through this. Its almost a rite of passage. For a child, I am certain it is very traumatic.

    I wonder when someone will step up to the plate and fight these underlying ills of the world. Apparently we are not satisfied with the millions of deaths each year from disease. We have to kill more with our guns and bombs. Kind of sounds silly to be killing each other in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t it?

    Next time I hear that we have liberated 50 million people I will simply barf! :-&

  8. Bengali Fob says:

    I had the same thing when I visited Bangladesh when I was small! I hear the story all the time from my parents about how worried they were. I kind of remember them crying. 🙁

    I was actually a sickly child. Survived diptheria, typoid, and a bunch of other stuff. I think I caused my parents to suffer a little too much… :-”

    YOu know the rite of passage part? It’s true. I remember in my one my science classes the teacher was talking about how dangerous typhoid and diptheria are and that people die from it. But then I was like, I had that! And I survived! I think you’re daughter might feel the same way that I do.

    Of course I survived only because my parents could afford the costs of going to the doctor in Bangladesh. Hundreds of children in Bangladesh aren’t as lucky I was or your daughter. It stinks when you know that all these children could be alive if they only had some money, but of course, reality stinks. :((

    Allhamdulilah your daughter is better. Hope you don’t worry yourself to much.

    On another note, you should make your daughter watch the World Cup with her relatives, uncles and aunts preferably! I got hooked to soccer only because I watched the ’94 finals with my uncles and aunts in Bangladesh. It was the first time my parents let me stay up all night! It was a wonderful experience that has made me appreciate the beauty of football. Since you’re a football fan too, I’m sure you’d appreciate some company when you’re watching the WOrld CUp. Who better to watch with then your own daughter, right? /:)

    Anyway, hope you like that idea. Or maybe she’s already a fan? :)>-

  9. seb says:

    Dear Dr Strangelove,

    As i flicking thourgh the comments made on my blog I read yours telling me about the title of it: Mutatis Mutandis… a phrase familiar with you I believe…
    Then I read about your daughter: I hope she makes a full recovery; and I also hope that all the Third World children get treated properly one day!!!
    Thanks again for reading my blog, which is totally out of touch with reality…

  10. Alfredo says:

    Mash, I hope your daughter makes a quick and full recovery.

  11. Kel says:


    Just a quick note to say your daughter is in my thoughts.

    All the best for a speedy recovery and good for you for seeing this an indication of what’s going on in the third world every single day.

  12. Ingrid says:

    Happy father’s say Mash…I think your celebration will be a wee bit delayed but I think you’ll be the happiest dad then..;)

  13. Mash says:

    Fob, seb, alfredo, kel, ingrid, thanks all. I almost forgot it was father’s day! I just spoke with my wife and my daughter is getting better.

    Speaking of Father’s Day, I saw a new comedy on HBO called “Lucky Louie”. It gives a whole new meaning to being a father. It was hilarious.

    I am back on my regular posting schedule as of today. Expect a post from me soon after the Brazil soccer match at noon :d

    oh, and Fob, my daughter does play soccer. Would you believe that at the tender age of 5, she has already played 3 seasons of soccer. She loves soccer and the team spirit that goes with it. She is already better at it than I ever was. She is a big time goal scorer and a very good ball handler. The kid’s soccer program where I live is great. They have professional trainers work with the kids on fundamentals. It’s all very serious for the parents. The kids on the other hand are just having fun. :”>

  14. Robbie says:

    I feel guilty. I don’t think I’ve made one post on the World Cup but I made THREE on the 24 Heures Du Mans within the past 36 hours.

    Y’all get one guess what my favorite sport is. :d

  15. Bengali Fob says:

    Oh my God! Your daughter’s that good?!?!? Whoah! I bet she’ll be playing on the national team before we know it! And she’s only 5?!!? 😮 Mind -blowing!

    Tell me she plays in a co-ed tourny. That would just make my day. To think that she beat a lot of guys in scoring… \:d/

    “All very serious for the parents” eh? LOl! Are you one of those soccer dads that go insane? lol That’d be too funny. You should post about some insane soccer mum/dad if you ever encounter one. It’s always funny to hear about them. :d

  16. Mash says:

    Fob, she plays in a co-ed league. Its very cute. They play 5 on 5 without a goalkeeper.

    They make the parents sign a statement that says that rowdy behavior will not be tolerated 🙂

  17. Aunty Ism says:

    A very happy Belated Father’s Day awaits you, Mash. May you wife and daughter get home safe and sound.

  18. Mash says:

    Aunty, thanks for the father’s day wish 🙂

    My father’s day present was my daughter’s continued recovery.

  19. neha says:

    Hope the little one gets well soon..

  20. Mash says:

    neha, thanks. Just spoke with my daughter and she is thankfully doing a lot better. She’s nearly back to her old self again.

  21. sunrunner says:

    What a horrifying ordeal – a parent’s nightmare.

    The timing of coming across this post is interesting as I saw Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates on Charlie Rose last night(Buffet has just donated the bulf of his appx $0 bil fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundaton which I did not know very much about). At any rate, Melinda spoke at some length about the number of children who are dying from vraious diarrhea related diseases around the world. They are in the process of funding reasearch on a drug which has been developed to specifically address a strain found only yin Bangladesh and India. They also spoke of the relationship between saving the lives of children and the population growth rate declining exponentially.

    Hopefully this will draw more attention to this tragic issue.

    And I hope you can get your little girl home soon!

  22. Mash says:

    sunrunner, I heard the Press Conference on CSPAN radio. I was extremely heartened by Warren Buffett’s absolutely saint-like generosity. I also heard Melinda Gates speak about the new drug.

    I am trying to get more info on this and will likely write about it. It truly is a travesty that we are letting our children die. I am glad wealthy private citizens are leading by example. However, I wish our governments would also follow suit.

    Thank you for your thoughts about my little girl. Thankfully she came through the illness. I just wish that one day all parents, regardless of their economic status, are able to feel the same relief I feel now regarding their children.

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