International Women’s Day Celebration- A Memorable Event by ARMMAN with mMitra partners -Dr. Abhiram Mehendale & Mahesh Rajguru Women’s day is celebrated globally on 8th March. mMitra being the women’s oriented programme it was a good opportunity for ARMMAN to campaign for mMitra in this Women’s day week. The International women’s day celebration programme was thus planned on Wednesday March 11, 2015 to bring women from mMitra field staff and mMitra subscriber women together. The programme was organized at Malvani, in Malad which is one the largest slum populations in the western suburb of Mumbai. Two NGO partners working in adjacent areas of Malvani slums joined hands with ARMMAN to celebrate international women’s day, with field supervisors, sakhis and mMitra subscriber pregnant women and mothers. Parivartansheel Sanstha implements mMitra programme in the slum communities of Malvani. The other partner ‘United Association for Public Health and Education covers the adjacent areas of Madh island and Marve in Malad. The main objective behind involving these two partner organization was to cover the larger area to increase the visibility of mMitra programme in the slum communities of Malad West. The other objective was to initiate the process of coordination and cooperation between the field staff of two partner organizations working in the vicinity. Certain responsibilities were delegated to the field workers of both the organizations. Mr. Panjabrao Gawai of Parivartansheel Sanstha took entire responsibility of booking a community hall, arranging tea and snacks. He also arranged other logistics like chairs and tables, microphone system and speakers etc. He arranged everything very well. He involved one of the local Women’s self help group in this programme and gave them a catering contract to provide Poha and tea as healthy refreshments for women attending the programme. Ms. Swati from United Association for Public Health and Education arranged for water. In a way it was a team work which helped ARMMAN staff to make this programme enjoyable and successful. 2 to 3 days before the programme, both the partner organizations were given Hindi and Marathi posters of International Women’ day celebration programme. Sakhis of both the partners displayed these posters at different places in their respective communities. These Sakhis also visited some mMitra subscriber’s homes during their daily work. They informed these women about the programme and also invited them to attend the programme. They were also told to bring accompanying women from their house or from neighbourhood in case of any difficulty in travelling to the venue. The programme was scheduled between 2 to 5 in the afternoon at Budhha Vihar in Malvani, Malad. Ms. Kavita and Ms. Akanksha from ARMMAN staff welcomed the guests at the entrance of the hall. Every woman was given a lucky draw coupon. These coupons had a definite number and two lucky draw prizes were kept for these coupons. The programme began with a small introductory speech by Ms. Sonya from ARMMAN. Then Executive Director of ARMMAN, Ms. Geetanjali Jha-Chakraborty gave a welcome speech where she congratulated all the Sakhis and the team members from all the implementing partners for reaching the magical number of 50, 000 enrolment within a span of just 7 months and looking forward to reach out more than 1 lakh women by the end of the year. The next thing was to make the women comfortable who had traveled all the way in hot and humid afternoon time. And Thus Ms. Shobharani took the charge for the ice breaker. She asked women to do some simple body movements with some simple English songs. All the women participated and enjoyed the ice breakers and participated in it with interest. Then there was time to show some talent. Ms. Jayashree Bhalerao and Ms.Vinaya, Hospital Supervisor from ARMMAN sang nice songs related to women and children. Mr. Mahesh Rajuguru from ARMMAN sang a very nice Hindi song on women to cheer up the guests. This was an opportunity for all the women, Aarogya Sakhis and mMitra Team members attending the event to showcase their talents. The songs sung by the Sakhis and mMitra Team members have also filled the colors in the overall atmosphere to boost the confidence of all the participants. Ms. Sonya then again took the charge of the mike and invited Mr. Panjabrao from Parivartansheel Sanstha and Dr. Kalpesh Raje from United Association for Public Health and Education to share some words about their experience with mMitra. Mr. Panjabrao welcomed and thanked all the women for their presence in the programme. He talked about mMitra and how women from Malad, Malvani are getting enrolled into mMitra voice call service. He also thanked the field staff of Parivartansheel Sanstha field staff for their efforts to make this Women’s day programme successful. Dr. Kalpesh from United Association for Public Health and Education thanked ARMMAN for involving their organization in the Women’s day programme. He also shared his experiences their work for mMitra for enrolling the women from Madh-Marve community. He thanked all the mMitra beneficiary women who came all the way from Marve and Madh to attend the women’s day celebration programme at Malvani which is bit far from their area. He also appreciated the efforts taken by his field staff and congratulated all the Aarogya Sakhis from his organsation and seemed confident that they would surely meet the set targets and was confident about mMitra meeting their expected target. Then it was time for some fun! Ms. Shubhangi then made four groups, each of 20 women. Each group was then given a different game to play. One group played the game of lighting the maximum number of candles with one match stick. The other group played the game of throwing the maximum number of balls into the bucket. Third group was asked to put maximum number of plastic pearls in the thread in one minute. The other group was provided with a paper and pencil. One common letter was given to all the women. They were asked to write maximum number of names of babies starting from that letter. The winners of all the games were awarded the exciting prizes. Two lucky draw prizes were also announced by taking out two lucky numbers. A woman who came well dressed for the occasion was also awarded a special prize. Some women had their children with them. A separate playing area was made for children in the adjacent hall to keep the children engaged so that their mothers could enjoy all the games and events arranged for them. The children were given toys and colourful balloons to play and some hospital supervisors and Vodafone volunteers placed at ARMMAN looked after the children while they were enjoying with the toys and balloons. The place of attraction was the photo booth arranged for the women in one corner. A plain white banner with mMitra logo on it was fixed on a wall. All the women who had come for the programme were told to imprint their palms with different poster colours. A cut out of Sakhi was also installed on one side of this banner. Women were asked to give good poses with this cut out while their photos were clicked. These photos were immediately printed and given to the women as Souvenirs. The women were also given Steel bowl with spoon as souvenirs. All the women liked the gift. Rajgira Laddus which are healthy to eat were also included these souvenirs gift packs. While giving the refreshments to all the guests a care was taken that all women should be provided some healthy food to it. The contract for food and tea arrangements was given to a local self help group from Malvani. These Women from self help group served the guests with warm welcome and smile on face. They had a good team of women with different roles assigned to each to avoid chaos at the food counter. Various games were arranged for women keeping in mind that some of the women attending the programme were pregnant or having small babies with them. The games were selected keeping in mind they would not demand much physical exertion or body movements; at the same time women participating in the games must enjoy playing them. Overall the programme went really well. Everyone who worked to make the programme successful was happy that they could arrange some good event where all the women related to our own mMitra project could come together and they enjoyed the day. All these women hardly get a time from their household chores to meet the other women and to play games. This festivity was also the occasion to momentarily escape from domestic chores and thoroughly enjoyed playing games, singing songs and taking photos in different poses for the photo shoot with the mMitra lady, in a joyful and friendly atmosphere. Thus, such events would certainly be the refreshers to come out of the boring and tiring routines. At the same time ARMMAN could utilize this opportunity to increase the mMitra in the communities it is catering to. We as ARMMAN mMitra team believe that such Celebrations should be arranged for women in different communities on a periodic basis to achieve the dual purpose of mMitra and creating a good bond with women in the communities working on women’s issues and campaigning for mMitra amongst the potential or actual mMitra subscribers.