Written by Sonya Ochaney
Narrated by Shobha
ARMMAN’s mMitra service in collaboration with MAMA has commenced in the urban slums of Mumbai. The mMitra service is a free voice call service that provides culturally appropriate comprehensive information on preventive care and simple interventions to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in urban slums of Mumbai. The voice calls are in Hindi and Marathi, specific to the woman’s gestational age or the age of the infant and are sent weekly/twice a week free of cost directly to their mobile phones.
We have partnered with six NGOs and three hospitals to enable us to enroll a large number of pregnant women and mothers with infants for the service. Our field workers have been present at hospitals registering women and have been in constant touch with the beneficiaries of the service. These field workers are the point of contact for these women who come to the hospital for their ante-natal check up and this has translated into us getting some wonderful anecdotes from them. These anecdotes have given us an insight into how our voice call service is bringing about behavioral change within women and their families, which is one of the impacts we intended.
One of the beneficiaries came to Mumbai from Aurangabad after her wedding and settled in a slum in Borivali. Being in a new setting, she does not know anyone and cannot go to anybody for support or advice. Her husband too works till late, thus leaving her alone for a better part of the day. She is four months pregnant and she registered for the mMitra service when she went to the hospital for an antenatal check-up. She does not have a personal mobile phone and gave her husband’s number to receive the calls on. Her husband, she told our field worker, listens to the mMitra calls and tells her all the information he received. He finds the voice calls very informative and the couple rely on it as they do not have any friends or family around them to provide guidance. The mobile mitra is truly a friend for them in this time. Her husband has now started giving her his undivided attention and even took her to the hospital to register her for an institutional delivery.
He even plans to buy her a personal phone so that she can listen to the voice calls on her phone and also keep in touch with family and friends.
Another beneficiary shared with us her story. She told us that her husband is a strict man and does not communicate much with her. He does not appreciate her socializing and compels her to sit at home and do tailoring and stitching. Since they had a love marriage, her family too does not support her. All this has culminated in her feeling isolated and she has no one to share to her problems with.
She was hesitant to register for the service because she wasn’t sure her husband would approve. Now that she has registered for it, she is pleased as the service apprises her about ways to take care of herself and her baby. Since she conceived after 5 years of marriage, the voice calls have put her mind to ease and reduced her pregnancy related stress. She is very happy that the service provides her with calls at her convenient time and in the language she comprehends well.
These are the kind of heartwarming stories that help us go on with our work and keep our spirits high. We hope that we can touch and change many such lives of women through our voice call service.