HEALTH

Every once in a while during our work in JMV we come across situations where our personal and professional skills are tested. One such situation arose during a Mothers’ Group meeting in Amradevi village in the Sirauli Gauspur block of Barabanki. This is one of the 195 villages where the Maternal and Neonatal Health program of Join My Village is being implemented.
Here I met Malini*, who was pregnant. “My fifth month has started and this is my first child,” she said.
“So, you must have had all of your tetanus vaccinations and check-ups by now?” I asked. “No, I haven’t,” she replied.
Both my colleague from CARE’s maternal health program and I were stunned. We asked her to show us her feet and as expected they were badly swollen and so were her wrists. Her face had turned yellow—all signs of danger and anaemia in a pregnancy.
“She hasn’t eaten anything in three days and hasn’t had water since morning,” said Tara, the ASHA worker.
My colleague noticed a bruise on Malini’s eyelid. The moment we asked her about it, she broke down.
“My husband doesn’t care about me or the baby. He beat me up a few days ago over a trivial issue. My in-laws don’t want me and that is why I hardly get anything to eat,” Malini said.
“This is not the first time something like this has happened with her. This has been her life since she got married three years ago and even pregnancy has made no difference to her husband Ajay Kumar, a farmer,” said Malini’s neighbour.
“Last time he beat her, JMV field staff intervened and spoke to her husband. She was one-month pregnant then. He was fine for a few days and then started again,” her neighbour added.
We tried to console Malini but our priority was to ensure she had some food immediately and went for a check-up as soon as possible.
We knew we needed to speak to her husband. As infuriated as we were, we knew directly confronting him would result in a backlash for Malini.
So we decided the next best option would be A Young Men’s group meeting, which was scheduled in the same village. We asked the field staff to ensure that Ajay Kumar was in that meeting.

We started the meeting by asking who had pregnant wives at home. Luckily for us, Ajay Kumar was the only member who had a pregnant wife. We asked him about his preparations for the pregnancy – but did not mention to him that we had met Malini.
As expected, Ajay Kumar said he wasn’t concerned with the baby. “It is her job, what am I supposed to do?” he said. Before we could speak, his friends in the meeting started telling him what all he was supposed to do. “Take her for check-up. See if she gets proper food and talk to her,” said Sameer.
We asked about vaccinations and Ajay Kumar said he didn’t know about it and the danger signs. I told him to take Malini for check-up or else both his wife and baby would be at risk. “Do you want that?” I asked. “No, I don’t. I will take her to hospital tomorrow,” he said.
Even his friends promised us that they will make sure Ajay Kumar goes.
It was good to see that the efforts we put in educating men through Young Men’s and community meetings has paid off. Directly telling Ajay Kumar would not have had the same impact as his own community members sharing the information we give them with him. A barrier was broken and the community was taking a stand.

I am happy to share that the next day Ajay Kumar took Malini for a check-up and her vaccine.

– Akansha Nigam
JMV Project
* Names have been changed to protect their identities.

Posted By : CARE Team