If Not Today, Then When?
Preventive Health is one of the most underrated things but ironically is a privilege which not many of us have. When the world on one hand is fighting new, unexplored viruses, there are people living on the peripheries who are dying due to diseases like typhoid and malaria. The modern world is moving at a pace which is unimaginable for the forest dwelling communities to even understand. Years of marginalisation - no education, no access to health care, no availability of basic facilities of water and electricity - has led to multiple problems the communities face in their daily lives.
Imagine the life of an adolescent girl who wishes to fall sick because that gives her an opportunity to visit the quack (the local doctor) who has a small set up on the highway. The visit to quack gives her an opportunity to see the market, buy some daily essentials and get some chips, candies for herself and her siblings (only if the pocket allows). It is difficult to have such wishes but yes this is true incase of every child, and women who live in and around the forest.
The community who merely earns a living, cannot prioritise health care as a need. Preventive health care is almost non-existent among the forest dwellers causing loss of life. This is not because they do not believe in living a healthy life rather they cannot afford to have one.
Hygiene is the best way to prevent diseases like typhoid, malaria, dengue etc but there is no access to clean drinking water? How can we expect a community to be hygienic and healthy? Having piped water supply, availability of clean and safe drinking water is a privilege.
It has been observed that along with problems of menstrual and reproductive health among adolescent girls and women, the diseases like scabies(skin disease), ringworms, typhoid, malaria etc are also found mostly among women, adolescent girls and children. They are found to be most vulnerable when it comes to combating health problems. There have been instances in the past years when the young girls had to give up on their lives, due to lack of awareness and unavailability of health care facilities. Every year women die (or adolescents girls who are married at a very young age) during child births, which usually happens at home with the help of midwives. This all happens due to lack of knowledge around the health of women, misunderstandings and existing myths about menstruation and many more social evils which in turn prove to be deadly for women.
We at Samanta believe "Education" as the very foundation of the society. There is a need to take preventive health care measures and educate the community with the same. WE have positioned the children as the flag bearers of health. Through community meetings we attempt to impart knowledge thereby pursuing engagement and participation.
The adolescent girls and women have shown interest in learning, up-skilling themselves to lead a healthy life by practicing preventive health care measures. Learning beyond the boundaries of School infrastructure is one of our approaches we firmly believe in.
Dr. B.R Ambedkar said that,
“Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of the women. Education is fruitless without the educated women, and agitation is incomplete without the strength of the women”.
Every individual is equipped with skills, there is a need to identify them, recognise them and further up skill them with the modern day needs. Women in our community have been our constant support system in increasing the enrolment in the school, maintaining regularity and also motivating us to do what we have been doing. It is high time for us to create public health care available through education to the people who have always been at the lowest end to receive any services.
We are working on setting up a women owned community learning centre. A space to discuss their problems, share their experiences and knowledge and learn new skills to be self sustainable in their lives.
“We become animal without wisdom, sit idle no more, go get education,end misery of the oppressed and forsaken.” - SAVITRIBAI PHULE
A typical setting for Hut in the forest!