Team Suhrid decided to have its second major camp of this financial year (4th big camp since the inception) on 20th Oct, 2013. All the schools are closed from the last week of April till mid June on account of summer vacation. Team Suhrid utilized this period to plan out various initiatives related to health, infrastructure, sports and hygiene. We launched health related initiatives SUN (A project for enrichment of mid-day meal) and de-worming in seven schools – covering 452 kids – by August 2013. The primary objective of the camp was to conduct a complete health check-up to assess the progress made in these three months. The camp was organized in the honor of late Smt Kasturi Bai, mother of Suhrid Foundation member Srinivas Jasti.
Most of these schools don’t have proximity to the primary health centers. Suhrid Foundation doctors decided to provide first aid-box and training to each teacher to at least take care of basic day-to-day problems such as injury, swelling, nausea, fever etc. All kids health camp was the most appropriate time to hand-over the first aid-boxes to each school. To immunize the village kids against the after effect of the injuries, Team Suhrid decided to administer tetanus injections to all the kids.
While the students get their curriculum books covering the basic topic with government-aid, the teachers felt the need of giving more structured exposure to the students by creating small library for each school. Suhrid Foundation decided to extend its support to in this direction as well. Since this camp was to have participation from all the schools, we felt that it was appropriate to launch the school specific library and a common library across the schools.
The objectives of the camp can be summarized as under:
- Conduct general health and eye-checkup camp
- Administer Tetanus injections
- Distribute First Aid-boxes to every school
- Launch of the Library
Team Suhrid had conducted three big and a few small camps in the area around Vikramgad in last one year. However, this camp posed a unique challenge this time. Considering the facilities at Bahirampada, we decided to have Dolhari Gram Panchayat Karyalay, Bahirampada as the center. Except for the 71 kids from the Bahirampada school, remaining 370 students were to be moved from the remaining 6 schools, with the distance ranging from 8 to 25 kilometers. Almost all the kids were less than 10 years. Hence, we could have not have kept them at the camp for more than 3 hours at the camp site. Unlike our earlier camps, we had to continue with the health camp and movement of the kids (school to camp and back) at the same time. It was all the more challenging due to the topsy-turvy route and improper road conditions. Synchronization of the health camp and the movements of the kid was a big challenge considering the time-window available to perform the activities.
Considering the time to travel to Bahirmapada (120 Kms from Mumbai), it is impossible to start the camp before 10:30 (considering the initial setup). Moreover, there is no electricity after 7 PM in the rural areas. Hence, we had to ensure that we complete all the activities within 6 to 7 hours without compromising on the quality.
On the Camp Day
The camp started exactly at 10:30 with Saraswati Puja. Team Suhrid had 16 volunteers including 2 doctors, 2 optometrists and one senior nurse. We had at least 6 to 7 teachers at any point in time to provide the assistance to the team. Health and eye checkup was done in parallel. The finding from the camp have been clubbed under three categories.
- Minerals deficiency has reduced after the introduction of diet enhancement program (SUN).
- PEM protein energy malnutrition was seen in more than 50 percent of kids so the diet needs to be further reinforced.
- Many kids don’t get even the dinner at home. Most of the kids are less than 12 and skipping one meal can result in 100 to 200 gms weight loss.
- Water intake of kids is very less so they get skin problem like dry skin , eczyma, fungal infection etc
- Though none of the kids needed glasses, the vitamin A deficiency was quite evident.
- The schools, which started de-worming early and followed the basic hygiene viz clean teeth/ nails etc showed maximum improvement in this area.
- Apart from the regular de-worming medicines and improved hygiene, it is essential to improve the quality of potable water to reduce the worms.
- Almost in the 70 percent cases, the nails were untrimmed and dirty. Eggs of worms develop there and transmit to GIT whenever they put their hands in mouth.
- Teeth not brushed regularly. Some of the kids had not brushed it from days together and some of them don’t know how to brush as their front teeth were clean and molars were full of cavities.
- Many boys had Safety pins for their half pant which is not safe for them.
- Kids don’t use small cotton cloth when they have cold and cough.
- Kids don’t use footwear, which makes their feet dirty and less sensitive.
Suhrid Foundation had already started work on water purification projects, which would be implemented in Nov, 2013. A series of sessions would be conducted in next three months to improve the personal hygiene. SUN program has helped in improving essential vitamins and minerals. We would need to reinforce the same with protein enriched diet.
Almost all the kids were administered Tetanus injections.
First Aid Box Distribution
Team Suhrid provided a set of first aid-box to each school. The boxes contained few generic medicines such as Paracetamol and other essentials of first-aid such bandage, antiseptic ointment, cotton, scissors, etc.
Team Suhrid launched school specific library and a common library across the schools. We provided books in simple Marathi in various areas such as physical fitness, prayer, moral, craft, painting, science experiments, rangoli , idioms and phrases, stories, leaders etc. They were also given Alphabet chart in English and Marathi. Apart from providing a standard set for each school, team suhrid has created a common library, which would contain books on various topics and would be maintained at Guravpada. We would continue to provide them educational books, audio/video based education aid etc.
Key Success factors
One of the biggest challenges, which we have faced in last one year is related to tracking and monitoring the health of the elders. While the elders attend the camp and follow the initial instructions, they just don’t come for the subsequent camps, which results in break in the medication and monitoring. Since these tribals are based in villages and spend more time in farming or fishing, it is difficult to communicate with them on regular basis. The only solution for the same is to create a primary health center in the vicinity and handle their cases in person. With this finding, creating a primary health center becomes a part of Suhrid foundation vision – though a distant dream as of now.
With this background, it was impossible for us to track kids health with the help of their parents. Hence, we decided to follow the route of the schools, wherein the kids are completely controlled by the teachers. With the help of the responsible teachers, we have been able to monitor the health of kids more closely. The teachers contribute regularly in terms of
- Maintaining kids records (Name, Date of birth, Height, Weight, disease)
- De-worming every kid as per the schedule provided by Suhrid Foundation
- Provide the vegetables, jiggery etc as per the instructions by Suhrid foundation
- Monitor and improve the hygiene
- Providing timely feedback and suggestions
All these teachers are well versed with social media and communicate with us on daily basis regarding all the above mentioned. In that sense, we have created a virtual primary health center, which helps us monitor the health on monthly basis.
Future Course of Action
- Team Suhrid would provide the mechanism to store and purify the potable water in the month of Nov. We would provide large steel tanks to hold at least 60 liters of water, which would be purified with filter, alum and chlorine tablets.
- Though the doctors of Suhrid foundation aim to reduce the medicine intake of the kids, some of the kids would still need some tablets (vitamin, mineral etc) to reach to a normal level. Team Suhrid foundation would supply the dosage and monitor the same in Nov/Dec 2013.
- Poor Hygiene is one of the major factor, contributing towards worms and poor health. Separate sessions would be conducted and action plan would be drawn by Dec, 2013.
- Currently, Team Suhrid is able to address enrichment of mid-day meals during the school days only. There is no certainty about the food (availability and quality) at their homes. To ensure that the parents look after the kids after school hours, team suhrid would facilitate parent-teacher meetings, wherein parents would be encouraged to be more health conscious in terms of diet and hygiene.
Volunteer ExperienceIshira Parikh
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