Netflix’s ‘Rooting for Roona’ is a beautiful yet emotional documentary that chronicles the story of Baby Roona Begum, a child from a rural village in Tripura, northeast India, who suffered from hydrocephalus. She got a chance at life after her photograph went viral on the internet overnight, but unfortunately, she passed away in 2017, just a month before her final surgery was scheduled.
The 41-minute long film highlights every aspect of her journey, along with how strangers came together to help this young girl fight for her life. In the middle of everything were, of course, her parents, who were by her side at every step of the way. Curious to find out where they are now? We have got your back!
Who Are Baby Roona’s Parents?
Roona Begum was the daughter of Abdul Rahman and Fatema Khatun. When she was born, her young parents couldn’t figure out what ailed their daughter. Even their trips to the nearby government hospitals didn’t help. Although Roona got diagnosed, the hospitals, not equipped to treat her condition, had to send her home, meaning that the family had to continue their struggle to save her. People told the couple that they should give their daughter to an orphanage or an ashram (a type of spiritual monastery) to be rid of the responsibility, but Fatema refused.
She made it clear that Roona was her baby; if she were to live, she would live with them, and if she died, it would be on her mother’s lap. Thankfully, in just a little while, the Gurgaon (now Gurugram) based Fortis Memorial Research Institute heard about Roona’s story and admitted her free of cost. In the years that followed, the doctors performed eight surgeries on Roona, shrinking her head size from 94 cms to 58 cms in circumference. The couple also saw progress in their daughter’s lifestyle – she could hold her head up on her own, move it side to side, smile, and even mumble a few words to talk to them, things that she never could do before.
They dreamt of her being able to sit up, walk, be a normal kid, and eventually go to school one day, but alas, it never materialized. On June 18, 2017, at around 8 p.m., Roona experienced breathing issues. “Her mother called me [and said] that Roona has some complication[s] and I rushed back and called her, but within few minutes, she breathed her last [breath],” Abdul sadly told the news agencies the next day, confirming that his 5-year-old daughter died at their home, surrounded by her family.
Where Are Baby Roona’s Parents Now?
As per the last reports, Abdul and Fatema still reside in Tripura, where Abdul, 27, works daily wage as a bricklayer, earning about $2.50 a day, and Fatima, 30, a homemaker, utilizes her time by taking care of him and their family, which now includes their son Akhtar Hussain. The two wanted their daughter to go to school so that she could get more opportunities and have a better life than her illiterate parents.
Now, they have the same dream for their son, Akhtar. Talking to the makers of ‘Rooting for Roona,’ who also have a website by the same name to raise awareness and advocate for healthcare, Abdul revealed that he never saw Roona Begum as just a sick child. He said, “I always thought she was really strong to endure so much pain.”
Read More: How Did Baby Roona Die?