Overcoming both TB and Abuse

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
B Chinmayee, a survivor of both abuse and tuberculosis, uses her own experience to help others overcome their challenges.

B Chinmayee is a classical Indian dancer from Odisha, a state on India’s eastern coast. After she was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2017, a bout of TB meningitis left her paralyzed in a hospital, where she subsequently suffered a miscarriage and discovered that the serious but treatable disease was only the beginning of her challenges. Although she has been living with her husband and his family, they were not supportive. They verbally abused her, blamed her for her illness, refused to pay for any of her treatment, and stopped visiting her in the hospital. When she was discharged, she was still unable to walk properly, a condition that provoked further abuse and stigmatization from her husband and his family. Eventually, her husband forced her to leave the house without providing any financial support.

Chinmayee notes sadly, “delayed [TB] diagnosis made me paralyzed and shattered my dream to dance on a large stage.” However, with support from her father, she was able to complete her treatment and was determined to lead a normal life. As a first step, she participated in a Capacity Building Workshop for TB Survivors organized by a USAID-supported TB program implemented by the Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health (REACH). Through REACH, Chinmayee became a “TB Champion,” sharing her own experience and providing psycho-social support to others with TB.

She started by talking to individuals on trains, which led to community awareness meetings in her neighborhood, and then speaking to large crowds at local festivals.  Last, September at the launch of ‘TB Haarega Desh Jeetaga’ (“TB will lose and the country will win”), a nationwide campaign to raise disease awareness about TB and encourage people with TB symptoms to seek medical attention, Chinmayee shared her determination to end TB stigma and to eventually dance again. “I often glance through my old photographs in my bright and traditional costume and that gives me a determination to dance again. I do try a few simple steps and have shared it with my TB Champions. Their encouragement motivates me to perform one day, especially on Mahisasurmardini which depicts the powerful Goddess Kali killing the demon king Mahisasur.