Saturday, May 25, 2019

Day 3: Women’s healthcare project Volunteering at Surya Bharti: An Enlightening Experience

Day 3: Women’s healthcare project

On the third day, we were given the opportunity to experience something altogether different. We visited a village near one of the Surya Bharti alumnus’s homes, where gathered around the porch of a building were a crowd of women, young children, and babies. This was our first glimpse of the women’s healthcare project that Yuki-san leads in a few different rural villages. Maternal education lacks in these villages and mothers are often unaware of whether their babies are growing healthily.
This project seeks to both educate and provide resources for these mothers; it involves measuring babies’ weight and length over a series of months and keeping a close eye on whether they are losing weight. A loss of weight from one month to the next signals a deeper issue in the baby’s health, as it often results from a lack of proper nutrition, dysentery, or other causes.

Getting to take part in this critical process was both touching and eye-opening. It was clear the village community found it valuable; many locals even joined to help. Two older women from the village lifted each baby onto the scale –for the newly born, holding them carefully while the women themselves stepped onto the scale – and called out their weight, which was diligently recorded by the head nurse (a staff member at Surya Bharti). The babies were tranquil during this step of the process, either completely asleep or watching with interest. The women then hoisted the babies onto a wooden platform used to measure their length, holding the babies’ legs straight to get an accurate measurement. The babies didn’t like this less-than-comfortable step and often began to cry, but as a reward for all their hard work and undoubtedly very confusing moments, candy awaited them. Their cries subsided quickly.

A most poignant memory from this experience was seeing the young village children watch with curiosity the process taking place, a once-a-month spectacle that gave them something to look forward to. Many of them used to be in the place of today’s babies – crying after being placed on the wooden platform – but are now healthy and smiling young children. Dusty and bare-footed, but healthy and smiling.

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