Health workers form the strong base of mMitra, the free automated call service delivered to pregnant and lactating #mothers. The Sakhis at community level and hospital supervisors at municipal hospitals play the most pivotal role of identifying #pregnant #women and enrolling them into mMitra service. Undoubtedly, they are the strongest pillars of the program.
I decided to speak to one of our health workers that day, to understand how they feel about being a part of mMitra.
Shobha has been with mMitra for almost three years now. She works as a mMitra Hospital Supervisor at BYL Nair Ch. Hospital. Every afternoon, she meets pregnant women who come for their antenatal check-up and registers them for mMitra service. She also catches up with the registered beneficiaries, follows-up and takes their feedback on the services. “Women come here all the way from Panvel, Virar, Badlapur, Bohisar, Kalyan. Almost all high-risk pregnant cases are referred here. They have hypertension, diabetes, thyroid or heart-related problems. Women from the red-light area come here for MTP (abortion). We also see a lot of MLC cases –like teen deliveries, sometimes deliveries from rape, in which case the babies are adopted by an NGO here”.
Me: What is your typical day like?
Shoba: I wake up by 5.30 am, and pray for a while. I take my morning prayers seriously. Then as I sip my special chai, I start cooking, with the news channel playing on the TV. By 8am my sons leave for work and school and then I get some time to finish my household chores and rush all the way from Borivali to Mumbai Central for work.
Me: What made you choose to work as Hospital Supervisor?
Shoba: I have always wanted to be a nurse. Right after my school, I started working in hospitals as a nursing assistant as I was doing my nursing course in parallel. And then Bombay Riots happened. After that my father didn’t allow me to work or study. He was scared to send me out of home anywhere. And soon after that, he got me married. I was 18. My life took a different turn from there. After my two sons, I started working as a social worker. I worked with sex workers and their children and other vulnerable population over the years. I trained school and college children on HIV awareness. It was a journey that opened up my horizons of thinking about the world.
When I joined mMitra and wore the white apron again, I had the nostalgic feeling from the days when I wanted to be a nurse. I felt that connection again where I could bond with women who come to hospitals, especially expectant mothers. The bonding that happens with some beneficiaries is beyond description. There was this couple, a 23-year old Muslim boy and 20-year old Maharashtrian girl, who were very close to me. The girl called me ‘maa’ because she said she felt I was so much like a mother to her. So, when she went into labour and had severe bleeding, her husband called me first. I had asked them to go to Nalasopara (they stayed in Virar), but instead they were referred to Nair hospital because she was bleeding and had developed complications. But after I spoke to the hospital authorities over phone, they let her deliver there at Nalasopara. Thankfully, everything went well and she had a baby girl. Most of our beneficiaries know that I’m always there to guide them, to help them when they need support. It makes me happy to be there for them.
Me: How do our #beneficiaries feel about mMitra?
Shoba: The women are very happy with mMitra services. They get so much knowledge out of the voice messages. Sometimes when I ask them what they learnt from the messages, they tell me all that they understood from the calls. Even the uneducated women, they get to know so much about pregnancy and baby care through mMitra. I knew this woman who used to come here for ANC. She had lost an arm in an accident. She lived in a tent on the road, earned by selling flowers in trains. She had told me how happy she was getting to know so much through mMitra voice calls. It was her 3rd pregnancy and she wished she had got this service for her first two pregnancies too. It makes me glad when they feel satisfied about how ARMMAN is a support to them. They are empowered with knowledge and I think this knowledge makes a huge difference to them.”
Me: Are you happy being a part of mMitra?
Shoba: Of course, I am! I understand how significant each of our roles can be in the lives of these women. I am happy to be making a difference in their lives!
ARMMAN mMitra beneficiary with her happy family.
It is such a delight to work with such passionate women, who go out of their way to reach their hands out to those who need. And true to old quote, every ripple of kindness we release into the world has the potential to touch a life in a profound and lasting way.
And this way ARMMAN has now touched 6,10,587 women’s lives! That means our impact extends to over 1.2 million lives (mothers and their children).
Written by Sharmila S, Manager – mMitra Program, www.armman.org.