-Oct 12, 2012
CNF is raising funds for the Adopt a Mother & Save her child program in slums and villages around Kolkata.
Among the poorest of the poor in Kolkata, malnutrition in children is rampant. Most of the time, malnutrition starts in the womb. The mother is often very young, uneducated, malnourished, and does not have the required family support to experience a healthy pregnancy. The child therefore is born weak, susceptible to diseases and compounded with inappropriate childcare practices, suffers from malnutrition.
The first 1000 days of a child’s life, starting from conception till it reaches the age of 2, is the “window of opportunity” to set a firm foundation for the child’s health. This is the critical period where 80% of mental, physical and cognitive development takes place. If the child does not receive appropriate care and nutrition during this time, the damage is irreversible and the child suffers from its consequences for the rest of its life.
Keeping this fact in mind, this program adopts a mother when she conceives her child and provides all essential care to her such as folic acid and iron tablets, regular check ups by the health worker, sonographies, emergency care if required and most importantly – nutrition and lifestyle counselling. It is not uncommon, given the status of women in the family, for the pregnant woman to eat after everyone else, or work in the fields right upto the 9th month of pregnancy. This is something I also saw with my own eyes. The program provides extensive counselling and education to the family on how to care for the mother so that she and her child have a healthy pregnancy outcome.
Once the child is born, it is given all the required care till the age of 2 such as immunizations, good nutrition, lactation support to the mother among others.
These services prevent malnutrition from occuring at all and empowers women with knowledge to care for themselves and their children appropriately.
Although the program is called Adopt “a” mother, since the approach is “community-based”, all women who get pregnant in a village in a year are provided the same services for the same cost. On an average, 9-10 women get pregnant in a village per year. All of them receive counseling, immunizations and pre/post natal care.
The cost of adopting the village is $100 per year, or $300 for the entire 1000 days.
The reason costs are low is because firstly, the region has a low cost of living and secondly, many of the services are subsidized by the government which helps keep sponsorship costs low.
I have seen the impact of this program first-hand on my visit to Kolkata in September 2012. The beneficiaries of this program were much better informed, had healthier pregnancies, and their children were in good health.
Please watch this short video of my visit to a village in Kolkata where this program is being implemented: