Reality Gives works very closely with the Foundation for Mother & Child Health (FMCH) to help people in the Dharavi community live healthier lives. We visited the FMCH office where their admirably lofty vision statement hangs proudly on the wall as a constant reminder of the work to be done:
“We dream of a world where the potential of each child is not limited by poor early health or malnutrition.”
There is already a hospital in Dharavi, so direct patient care isn’t a primary need. However, there is a void in education surrounding preventative health measures, particularly in the area of nutrition. As Piya Mukherjee, Executive Director of FMCH, and Dr. Rupal Dalal, a physician who donates her time and expertise both explained, malnourishment is often due to a lack of knowledge rather than a shortage of food or money.
The nutrition counseling sessions just moved to a new space below the Reality Gives community center which provides much more child-friendly space and can accomodate more mothers. For the past three months, FMCH has offered weekly two-and-a-half hour sessions every Saturday. The information given includes discussing proper breastfeeding, adequate weaning foods, dispelling myths surrounding certain foods, the dangers of anemia, and the long-term consequences of severe malnutrition like growth stunting and lower IQs. They couple nutritional talks with cooking demonstrations and help tackle questions mothers have about picky/fussy eaters.
FMCH is showing that eating nutritiously doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Often the advice is simple, like adding soy, millet, or curry leaves to chapattis. They also take a holistic approach, explaining how healthy eating benefits every member of the
The next step will be to train Reality Gives staff on FMCH’s basic nutrition training module so they’ll eventually be able to implement it directly in their outreach.
The potential is definitely there for this initiative to reach more people, and parents in Dharavi want more guidance. When armed with the new information about their role in affecting their families’ health, they feel a sense of control and accountability. Mothers are sharing their knowledge to others by word of mouth as they see how simple interventions can reap big rewards.
This article was written by the volunteers Trevor and Charmayne.