We packed our bags for our long work vacation to visit our beneficiaries and Arogya Sakhis in Solapur and Osmanabad. We were looking forward to meet the beneficiaries as we were curious to measure the progress ourselves. We came back with rich experiences from our trained health entrepreneurs and impact makers (Arogya Sakhis) who inspired us instead, and we thought we were the ones going to motivate and empower them !
Meet Shashikala Fadtare, she is a Arogya sakhi from Vinchur village in Solapur. This is her story, narrating one of her experiences with the beneficiaries and how she bought about the right behavioral change in the lifestyle of her beneficiaries.
She says, “one of my beneficiaries had undergone two previous abortions, never took calcium and IFA tablets regularly and followed a poor diet. I counseled her about taking proper food and taking IFA tablets on time, but her mother in law was against her taking medicines because she thought that it led to abnormal growth of the child. I used to visit her house everyday in order to build a rapport with the mother in law. Guess what, I not only convinced the mother in law to let her take medicines, but also managed to convince her to cook egg in a vegetarian household for the mother! I showed all the animations to the woman and her mother in law and they watched it with great interest and followed it. The project baby was born without any complications and is a very healthy baby. Having seen the results of my beneficiary, many non project women have started coming to me for counseling. I charge around Rs 150/- as a package deal for all the diagnostic tests like Blood pressure, blood sugar, Hemoglobin, weight and foetal doppler and it is very convenient and affordable for the women as they do not have to travel to the city. There are eight non-project women that have already availed of this service. I feel my image has changed in the village, people respect me a lot and identify me as a health entrepreneur.”
This story is of Savitri Patil – Arogya Sakhi from Dongoan village, Solapur who turned an health entrepreneur who fought back all odds, to the extent of going against her family and facing rebuke from the people in her conservative village.
Initially there was a lot of opposition from my family. They did not want me to go out and work. However after the 20 day
training of diagnostic tests, I did a practice sugar test on my husband and his sugar was as high as 590. We immediately went to the Doctor’s clinic and my reading matched that of the doctor’s. The Doctor said that I had brought him in at the right time and that there would be grave consequences, if any more time would have been wasted. After that day, my husband has been very supportive of my work and I do not face any opposition. The next hurdle I faced was the opposition of people in the village who did not trust me and did not agree to come to me for testing. They said, “You are not a doctor, then why should we come to you?” With the support of Dr. Manisha they understood and not only accepted it but came to appreciate it in a while. As the Foetal Doppler machine is not available at sub centre, the ANM (Antenatal Auxiliary Midwife) refers her patients to me. She also sends patients for Bp and Hb testing. I charge nominal Rs 100-125 for a full ANC checkup. People in the village trust me and respect me because of my good testing skills and that makes me feel very happy.
This inspiring story, that is told by our very own Shabana, Arogya Sakhi from Mangrul village, Osmanabad.
Initially my community members opposed my work as health worker. So I did a little tailoring but that money was not enough. After the 20 day training my health awareness increased greatly. My beneficiaries lived far, so I use to walk with my kit for long distances to their houses to make them hear the messages in front of their mother in law and conduct tests. The beneficiaries liked my service so much that sometimes they used to come to my house for the tests. Earlier my family members used to make faces when I wanted to go out. They would taunt me saying “chali kya, nikli kya?”. I never said anything back to them at that time, but now that I have started earning, and my husband asks me for money and says,” I will return it to you”. I have now become a Community Resource Person (CRP) under the Umed programme of Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission of and earn 1500 per month from that source. Now my husband is so proud of me he accompanies me to my evening meetings of CRP. “From Shabana I have become Shabana Madam now…!”
Arogya Sakhi Home based Antenatal and Postnatal Care has created 166 health entrepreneurs and uplifted the lifestyle of 1500 beneficiaries.