Ranji was a handicapped person due to polio who had the horrific experience of being raped twice in her home (really just a room without a door). She became pregnant. This caused the village to accuse her as she was a widow (traditionally accepted for her sins). No-one took notice that her dilapidated room had no door! We went to see her relatives and the head man who would not help. She was beaten and starved.
As a last resort, went to see the head of the village and her relatives and organised for her to be cared for. After the baby’s delivery, we brought her back to the village. A kind couple from UK paid for a door for her room. See how happy she is now in this photo.
Dr Alma Ram
A RECENT trip to India provided a fantastic opportunity to make a personal visit to the Mother & Child Mobile Health Clinics Project and to delve a little deeper into the work and the lives of those involved.
The Friends of JBK has been fundraising and supporting this work since 2013 and the progress has been outstanding.
The project benefits 11,000 women and 6,000 children through mobile health posts for mothers and babies in 30 poor and oppressed Dalit villages in the Punjab. It is a rolling program of ante and post-natal care, nutrition, contraception, immunisation, support for HIV/AIDS patients, female empowerment and gender equality plus environmental, sanitary and health education.
On day one of this visit I was taken to the Field Office by the inspirational project leader, Dr Alma Ram, where I met the project supervisors once again. Ranjit and Daniel, focus on maternal and child nutrition, health and hygiene through education and ‘clean village’ competitions. Sabeena promotes gender equality and anti-domestic violence programs.
Teena works with widows. She says: “I provide information and help on how to claim pensions and have set up an advocacy group called Single Women With Strength in Groups. I really like this work because I am helping women and the women also help me.”
Two supervisors run the HIV/AIDS program and they help people to claim medical treatments. They also educate families and communities against stigmatisation and encourage reconciliation if problems occur.
Sapna adds: “Much of our work is based on friendship to deal with sadness and problems that arise from being HIV positive.”
After the interviews we shared a delicious lunch before going to a village to join a community meeting. The meeting was mainly for women, but men were most welcome. It was very humbling, and a real privilege to hear women of all different age groups debating issues of culture and gender in relation to their society, history and the future along with the struggle of work, motherhood and family life.
by Helen Beeby