According to World Health Organisation, in 2013 about 800 women died everyday due to complications of pregnancy and child birth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings and most could have been prevented. The primary causes of death are haemorrhage, hypertension, infections, and indirect causes, mostly due to interaction between pre-existing medical conditions and pregnancy.
One of the projects in Kolkata supported by Concern India Foundation works towards securing better maternal and child health in the marginalised communities. Due to the absence of any medical facility in remote areas, midwives would deliver babies at home. Most of the people did not have a medical card and the distance discouraged them from taking any professional medical advice during, before or after pregnancy.
Under such circumstances, this project started two clinics in two different locations and is now catering to 150 patients every month. These clinics provide free medical assistance to the community along with referral to the nearest public hospital. Daily supplements to expecting mothers, nutrition plans, medicines, blood tests and delivery are some of the facilities available for the community.
To advocate healthy habits and maternal health, the centres have a group of women known as the ‘action group’ members. These women are part of the community and help in mobilising people about child marriage and family planning. They visit the community daily and identify women who need guidance. “We finish our work at home and then start visiting different blocks to inquire about women who might be expecting. We benefitted from this clinic and spreading the word about its benefits is the least we can do,” said one of the action group members.
“Women tend to deliver at home in these villages and routing them to mainstream hospitals and clinics has been the biggest challenge so far. With our health awareness camps and home visits, we intend to sensitise people about the necessity of delivering in a hygienic environment and importance of a healthy mother,” said Seema Khatoon, the registered medical practitioner who runs the clinic.
– Aahana Dhar, Communications Team, Concern India Foundation (Delhi)
Twenty year old Uma proudly shows off her computer designed graphic chart and points to the parrot she has created, its wings are spread open and it is poised to fly. Uma is poised to fly too, as her first job interview is lined up in a few days. Two years ago, her dreams to pursue her education came to an abrupt end when she got married. Miraculously she got a second chance in life when she was selected for free computer classes through a programme supported by Concern India Foundation. Her in-laws protested as her work load at home was immense and the travel time to classes was long. But with the support of her husband, she joined and continued with her lessons. Now six months later, she is on the verge of completing her course which will give her a certificate, hopefully a job and new lease in life.
In this computer training centre for the youth, there are many such stories of hope and second chances. Of the existing 30 students, approximately all are school dropouts and none of them knew how to operate a computer when they started. Most of the students are married women. Some get constant pressure from their in-laws while others have to travel long distances. This programme works for the empowerment of rural women in Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram Districts of Tamilnadu. The school dropout rate here is high because of poverty, low educational level of parents and weak family structure which in turn leads to more poverty, unemployment and ill health. The programme is working at addressing all these issues by running a 12 month computer skill training course that will make the youth self-reliant and employable. The course covers secretarial assistance and accounting training (data entry operator and tally course), and is run in association with ITI. Soon spoken English classes will also be conducted. Many more adolescents can now dream and hope to fly.
– Farah Bangera, Branch Manager, Concern India Foundation (Chennai)