A little bit about the cause

Hello everyone!

We hope that you are all well, and that the weather isn’t disrupting training for those of you currently preparing for the Brighton Marathon! If you are still in two minds about running the 2014 Brighton Marathon on behalf of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, then let us give you a little bit more information about the cause for which you would be running.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal works with survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster. On the night of December 2nd 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. Half a million people were exposed to the gas, 25,000 people have died to date as a result of their exposure, and more than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the leak and its after-effects.

The night itself carries horrifying memories for the survivors. Aziza Sultan, a survivor of the disaster, recalls that:

“At about 12.30 am I woke to the sound of my baby coughing badly. In the half light I saw that the room was filled with a white cloud. I heard a lot of people shouting. They were shouting ‘run, run’. Then I started coughing, with each breath seeming as if I was breathing in fire. My eyes were burning.”

Another survivor, Champa Devi Shukla, says of that night:

“It felt like somebody had filled our bodies up with red chillies, our eyes had tears coming out, noses were watering, we had froth in our mouths. The coughing was so bad that people were writhing in pain. Some people just got up and ran in whatever they were wearing or even if they were wearing nothing at all. Somebody was running this way and somebody was running that way, some people were just running in their underclothes. People were only concerned as to how they would save their lives so they just ran.”

However, the effects of the disaster were not limited to that horrifying night, and because the site has never been properly cleaned up, the chemicals seep into the groundwater and continue to poison the residents of Bhopal. The continued health effects of the gas disaster include but are not limited to: breathlessness, persistent coughs, problems with vision, cataracts, menstrual problems, fever, aches, fatigue, anxiety and depression, cancers, TB, loss of sensation in the limbs, reproductive health problems, renal failure, and growth retardation.

However, characterised by their incredible strength of spirit and unfaltering courage, Bhopal survivors continually work to improve the situation for those who continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster.  The Chingari Rehabilitation Centre, run by the Chingari Trust, works with women and children in particular, and has created a huge database of children’s special needs. By September 2010 more than 300 children with various disabilities have been registered there, with 120 receiving treatment in the rehabilitation centre. These children’s disabilities have been caused as a result of their parents’ exposure to either gas or contaminated water, or both. The Trust also provides psychological support and counselling to the children, as well as providing physiotherapy, speech therapy, sign language lessons, and lessons in reading and writing Braille.  The Sambhavna Trust Clinic is run by the Sambhavna Trust, and offers free medical care through allopathy, ayurveda, yoga, and western medicine. Over half of the 57 staff members at the Sambhavna Clinic are survivors themselves, and they carry out health surveys, health education, and community organisation.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal works together with survivors to fund these clinics, and our supporters are part of this joint venture too. If you want to be a part of this effort, then you can “Run for Bhopal” by signing up for one of our free charity marathon places in the 2014 Brighton Marathon. By signing up for one of our marathon places, you will be joining the chain of supporters and survivors who volunteer their time, money, or enthusiasm for our cause.

This year is particularly poignant because it marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. For this reason, we have thirty free marathon places to give away in the Brighton Marathon 2014. If you would like to register for one of our “30 for 30″ free charity marathon places then please contact us at info@bhopal.org. Alternatively, if you would like some more information about the Bhopal gas disaster or the Bhopal Medical Appeal before signing up, you can also visit our website here.

Places are running out fast, so get in touch soon…we look forward to hearing from you!