Winds of Change


The maternal health program being implemented under the Join My Village project in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh is still in its initial stages but the change it aims to bring about has already begun to show itself. Here are some of the success stories straight from the field that indicate that the seeds of knowledge have been sown.

Twenty-seven year old Devki, a resident of Pure Bhagai village in Ramnagar block, is married to 30-year-old Jaswant. Devki has a 3-year-old daughter and is four-month pregnant with her second child. Living in a joint family facing violence at home was nothing new for Devki. Jaswant who was a farm labourer spent most of his time loitering around the village and used to treat Devki with complete disrespect. Even her in-laws supported and in fact instigated Devki’s husband to beat up her and her daughter Shakun and throw Devki out of the house for bearing a girl child. As if that wasn’t enough, they even starved Devki. She went without food for days, sometimes asking her neighbour for leftovers when hunger got unbearable.

Devki had accepted this life as her fate when Join My Village came to her village as a blessing in disguise. Her husband happened to come across a Mothers’ Committee meeting in progress at the village and decided to attend it. At the meeting, her husband was made aware that it was a man, not a woman, who determines the sex of the baby. This and the other information imparted at the meeting initiated a change in Jaswant’s behaviour and he began taking better care of pregnant Devki and his daughter. The domestic violence has stopped and Devki’s diet is also taken care of by Jaswant. It truly is a tale of triumph!

This story is of Richali village residents Kalyani and her husband Rajju. The couple has two boys and two girls and Kalyani was pregnant with their fifth child. Kalyani is also an active participant in all Mothers’ Committee organized in her village under the JMV project. A while ago, 9-months pregnant Kalyani began having stomach cramps which lasted for a week but she ignored them. A week later Kalyani went to the fields to relieve herself but went into labour and delivered her son, all alone in the field. Fortunately for her, the village ASHA Shivlali was passing by and spotted Kalyani sitting in a pool of blood holding her newborn.

Shivlali somehow took bleeding Kalyani to her home and informed Rajju about the incident. As had been instructed in Mother’s Group meetings, Rajju was had made all the necessary preparations for an emergency birth and rushed Kalyani to the Community Health Centre (CHC). At the CHC, they found out that Kalyani had not delivered the placenta and she had lost a large amount of blood in the process and her situation was critical. She had to be given blood and glucose and it took more than half an hour for her to stablise. Today both Kalyani and her son are healthy and happy. Had it not been for timely action on ASHA’s part and well-preparedness on her husband’s part, Kalyani’s story would not have had this happy ending.

A resident of Chandwara village, under Masauli block, Allauddin’s wife Ruby is seven-months pregnant. Since both Ruby and her husband attend JMV’s Mother’s Group meetings regularly, the field staff was surprised to find her missing during a recent meeting. The staff was informed that she skipped the meeting as she was seven months pregnant.

The field staff decided to check up on Ruby during a home visit. At her home, Ruby’s husband informed the staff that she was observing Roza (month-long fast kept by Muslims) for the well being of her unborn child and family. Ruby’s sister-in-law said that it was her religious duty. However, both Ruby and her husband were unaware of the impact this would have on the unborn baby.

It was only after the field staff, who herself is a Muslim, told Ruby that fasting in this condition was not only dangerous for the baby’s health but was also against the religion that she decided to stop fasting. Even her husband promised to ensure that Ruby took her meals on time. The field staff informed Ruby and her family that their religion allowed those unable to fast, including pregnant women, to compensate by offering regular prayers because compromising the health of the unborn baby was not appropriate.  We are proud of the work our field staff is doing to ensure that pregnant women and their families have  the information they need to make wise decisions.