Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kate Spencer's new friends in India

My friend Katherine Spencer, Notre Dame class of 2014 (sociology and pre-health studies), is spending several weeks volunteering in and around Kancheepuram, India this summer.  She writes, "These two women wanted their picture taken so they can be famous in the United States. I promised to show it to as many people as possible."  I asked her for more of the story in return for spreading the images far and wide!  Here it is:

These women are part of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). It is an act that aimed to eradicate rural poverty by providing eligible people (below the poverty line) with manual labor for minimum wage. The project we visited was in a village that was renewing a Kai Rassi clinic with this NGO, Hand in Hand.

A Kai Raasi clinic takes place once a week or once every two weeks and provides basic healthcare and medicines to the people. They are required to pay 20 India Rupees (less than a dollar!) and they see a qualified doctor. The doctor often gives them referrals to go to government hospitals if needed and Hand in Hand workers ensure that they get there. Hand in Hand supplies the clinics with medicines like soft pain killers and anti-diarrheals.

The workers were very excited--as was the local government leader--to be renewing the clinic. Here is the link to the Wikipedia page on the government scheme. I'll point your attention to the criticisms section, as it is very interesting. During this particular visit, one of the Hand in Hand Workers, Ms. Rajeswari, was counseling the women on causes, symptoms and consequences of anemia. Anemia is a huge problem here. She educated them about iron tablets they should be taking and foods they can be eating to raise their iron levels.

Here's a picture from another work site we visited.  There are a lot of awareness programs going on through Hand in Hand, and they aim to educate villagers on their health rights and major health issues. In this particular one, we talked about loans they can be given to construct toilets and renovating local Anganwadi centers that act as day care for village children. They are given a nutritional lunch while attending, aiming to eradicate malnutrition.

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