Stories of Change
Stories of Change
27 March 2015
Where there is a will, there is a way!

Where there is a will, there is a way!

Babli wanted to become a nurse, but her orthodox family thought otherwise and married her off at the age of 17 to a boy from Uttar Pradesh.

Her husband worked in an embroidery shop. He himself couldn't earn much but expected a lot from Babli's family. He battered Babli when his demands for money weren't met. She was also often punished for not being the 'ideal' wife or daughter-in law. She was hardly allowed to go out or meet anyone on her own as her in-laws considered those as 'insult' to family values. Ironically, the family values weren't violated when she went out in field to answer nature's call at four in the morning since there was no toilet at home. The day she missed waking up early meant a day full of discomfort for her as she wasn't allowed to venture out of the house.

With the birth of their son Babli's husband's income couldn't keep pace with the expenses. She suggested to find some work for herself as she was literate and could support family income. Her mother-in-law refused to let her do that in the name of family 'honour'. However, Babli decided not to bow down to family diktats this time and secretly applied for an ASHA worker position. She was delighted when she learnt that she was selected for the job. Thinking a confirmed job will change her husband and in-laws attitude she shared the news with them. To her utter dismay, she was tortured for going against the family dikdat.

When she went to turn down the offer she was counselled by a Prayatn[1] volunteer who advised her to reconsider the decision. The volunteer also tried to convince Babli's family to let her work. Babli was thrashed badly for disclosing her family situation to an external person. Fearing for her life, she ran out of her house crying for help; Prayatn volunteer came to her rescue and warned her in-laws with filing of a police complaint. The family got scared and left.

Feeling encouraged by the support she got, Babli started working as ASHA worker. Her decision was seen as an act of defiance by her mother-in-law who was hell bent on teaching Babli a lesson. This disturbed Babli but the prayatn volunteer supported her emotionally and motivated her to continue the job. Meanwhile, Babli resumed her studies and completed high school. She applied in Prayatan and was selected as a 'Peer educator'. Her hard work paid off as she was soon promoted to the position of 'Outreach worker'. She was now earning more than her husband. Her husband realised the invaluable contribution his wife was making in theirs and their son's life. Sensing their life changing for better due to his wife, he could finally stand up to his mother's unfair actions and abuse directed at Babli.

Babli and her husband now lives in their house, away from the taunts and abuse of her in-laws. Life looks full of promises and opportunities. Babli plans to pursue further studies and she knows, 'where there is a will-there is a way'.

[1] Prayatn is a non government organisation working towards strengthening the ties in local communities so that people can work together to bring about positive changes in their lives. They particularly encourage women to participate in this process, as they are the most marginalized, downtrodden and powerless social group in India. Prayatn gives them the opportunity to develop their decision-making skills and leadership capacity so that they can address the issues affecting their lives.

27 March 2015
Making efforts and Restoring Hopes!

Flying with the wind, was how one could describe truck driver Rajendra Singh's life a few years ago. He was living happily with his wife and three children in Jodhpur, but the January of 2013 changed it all as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). Like most cases, he took this ailment lightly and discontinued the Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) as soon as he felt relieved from pain and other symptoms; he continued his drinking habit meanwhile. This routine continued for another 11 months and he started facing serious health issues. He restarted DOTS and again left the medicine course in between, this time owing it to his profession that did not allow him to stay home continuously for more than two weeks and that he being the sole bread winner for the family. Some more months passed away peacefully but he started having severe joints pain, ear problem, breathing problem and swelling in legs. Rajendra, completely unaware of his situation, visited the hospital; this time the dr found him resistant to regular TB medicines. He was told that because he did not complete his TB treatment course (of minimum nine months but may vary with the individual) and had left the course in-between twice; therefore he has become resistant to drugs /medicine (DR-TB) required for treating TB. Left with no choice, he was put on alternative treatment - injections. The injections reacted and he started facing additional problems due to them. The hospital's DR-TB committee decided to change the treatment and shift to Para-Aminosalicylate Sodium (PAS) powder. Unfortunately the powder was short-in-supply and he had to be admitted to Kamla Nehru Chest (KNC) hospital in a critical state. All this while, he could not continue driving and his family digged on their meagre savings to support daily household expenditure. His children dropped out of school as they could not pay the school fees.

Population Services International (PSI) counsellor Shailendra, deputed at KNC was on his routine duty of counselling TB patients, making them aware of the importance of complete DOTS treatment protocol and the dangers of acquiring DR-TB. The counsellor came to know of Rajendra and he immediately met him. After knowing his story, Shailendra introduced himself and PSI's work in this area / Axshya project. He assured Rajendra that he will help him to get completely cured but he has to promise that this time come what may, he will complete the treatment. He made him realize that incomplete TB treatment has not only made him weaker but also has become a curse for his wife and children. Tears dropped from Rajendra's eyes; Shailendra wiped them and said; it's never too late. Shailendra arranged for PAS powder and this helped him come out of the critical stage. Moreover, PSI counsellor approached his children's Government school principle and explained their plight thus requesting for their re-admission. He also visited his father and after introducing his work under the Axshya project, he made him understand his son's serious condition. He further stated that Rajendra requires support to continue treatment to get completely cured. His father thanked Shailendra.

Rajendra's condition stabilized and he was put on bed rest. He has been worried all the while thinking how his family will survive but then his father visited him in the hospital and assured him that he will take care of him and his family. It will be a long wait for Rajendra to get completely cured but his hopes have been restored due to the work done by PSI.

Population Services International (PSI) is a global health organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world by focusing on serious challenges like a lack of family planning, HIV and AIDS, barriers to maternal health, and the greatest threats to children under five, including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. PSI began its operations in India in 1988 with a mission to empower the people of India to lead healthy lives by addressing priority public health challenges in India using social marketing, social franchising and behaviour change communication techniques.

Project Axshya is collaborating with Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare - Government of India to reduce the burden of TB in India by creating universal access of TB diagnostic and treatment services. The key objective of this project is to create demand and social support for TB diagnosis and improving access to diagnosis and treatment of TB with specific focus on RNTCP services such as Designated Microscopy Centre (DMC) and Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS). The project covers 60 districts across 10 States (Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka and Rajasthan) in India covering seven million population.

15 November 2014
Ishrawati: I am feeling confident now

"Baldirai" is a hard to reach Primary Health Centre (PHC) in district Sultanpur of Uttar Pradesh, India where "Ishrawati" is posted as an Auxilliary Nurse Midwife (ANM). WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist (SCC) was introduced to Ishrawati in the month of August-2013, when Baldirai facility was selected under the BetterBirth Program (BBP).

"I feel more confident now, while providing care to the mother and her neonate" says Ishrawati when asked to share her experience of utilizing WHO SCC while providing care. I was doing the same job since long but I was not knowledgeable enough. For example I was not taking Blood Pressure of the mother neither at the time of admission nor after delivery because I was not aware of the importance of measuring BP of a mother but now I follow these steps.

Now, I keep my tray ready before the delivery as specified by the WHO SCC and that helps a lot in providing timely care. It is such a simple thing and it has improved my quality of care many times. I had never provided 'skin-to-skin care' to the baby before I was introduced to the checklist, now I do the same, because I know how important it is to keep a new born safe. I learned how and when to use oxytocin. Providing oxytocin at the right time and in right quantity helps in managing post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) and thus save's a woman's life.

While following checklist, I can do many things as it is a standardized and accepted checklist and I do not depend upon the direction of seniors to do basic things, and this saves time, which is very-very precious.

In short I am better prepared now that "mere haatho me jachcha bachcha surakshit hai" (mother and newborn are safe in my hands).Thanks to the BetterBirth Program!!

15 November 2014
Story of Shiva: Better late than never

Shiva, 39, a clerk with a private company in the small town of Ramnagar led a simple life; eating mostly vegetarian food with the only vice of smoking 4-5 cigarettes a day. His father had high blood pressure; he died young, at the age of 58. He stopped studying after he crossed 17 years of age, and became the sole bread winner of the family. He did not know if his father had diabetes along with high blood pressure and he never considered himself to be at risk of these diseases. He lived happily in oblivion until one day his close friend tested borderline positive for diabetes. With this discovery in his friend's life, he noticed his friend was advised to take regular medication, exercise and restrict his food habits. He remembered the doctor mentioning to his friend that if any member of the family has metabolic disease such as diabetes, the immediate family may be at higher risk of developing diabetes or passing risk factors on to future generations. This made him think, "what if I too developed diabetes". He also thought of increased burden on his family income, which will become even more strained if he had to buy regular medicines. He had just become aware of the complications, effects and risk factors of diabetes and high blood pressure.

How many of us are lucky enough to learn of the warning signs on time! Well, we can be, if we understand the signs and symptoms of non-communicable diseases and understand that we can change potentially unhealthy habits such as leading a sedentary lifestyle or using tobacco to delay or prevent onset of non-communicable diseases.

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