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New Health Initiatives in Udawad
Free The Children recently organized a number of health initiatives tailored to different groups in the Udawad, India community, including school children, adolescent girls and expectant mothers. Our goal was to create spaces for them to cultivate new interests and make better use of community resources.
We have an exciting update with respect to health programming: the reconstruction of Udawad’s local Anganwadi, a health resource centre and daycare is now complete. The building was in desperate need of repair, which discouraged community members from attending and accessing its services. But after months of hard work and renovations, we’ve opened the Anganwadi again! Now it offers a clean, safe and conducive space for health training, health treatment and child care for preschoolers.
At the Free The Children school in Udawad, we’ve replanted the kitchen garden following the summer vacation. The children were excited to participate, and five older students eagerly signed up as a volunteer group to maintain the garden and ensure that it is regularly irrigated. The garden is now flourishing with tomatoes, green chillies and eggplant, which will be used to supplement meals for the school children, as well as for younger children attending the Anganwadi.
For young women in Udawad, Free The Children recently launched a new Adolescent Group & Life Skill Training Program, which brings together a total of 29 girls in two groups to discuss the issues that matter to them. The meetings are informal and provide participants with a space to speak openly in a supportive atmosphere. Most of these girls are not currently attending school because of their many responsibilities at home. Group discussions have touched on the value of education, and ways to make time for regular studies. We hope that this group will help them develop leadership skills, improve their self-esteem, and provide them with information about important topics, including personal hygiene, understanding body changes during adolescence, and reproductive health.
In Udawad, maternal health is a pressing issue, as it is in many rural communities across India, where women lack access to maternal care and basic health information. The maternal mortality rate in India is one of the highest in the world. For this reason, Free The Children organized a prenatal-care training programme in Udawad. Because the majority of women in this community are illiterate, the training was conducted using creative posters with information on the health and safety measures women need to take during their pregnancy. The training program was so successful that a second meeting was held with women in the nearby NichlaBadla hamlet.
To learn more about Free The Children’s work in India, visit www.freethechildren.com/india