The various programs at Parinaam are geared towards making our customers self-sufficient. It is necessary to teach them about methods of healthy living so that they can help themselves. As a result, we started to develop a health education program. Our goal was to create interesting, memorable lessons about basic health practices that would inspire the customers to make changes in their lives. We want to show the customers that making healthy choices is a realistic possibility.
To develop the program, we initially conducted research in the field simply to observe the current habits of our customers and target areas that they needed to work on. For instance, we saw that the children of the customers rarely wear shoes when playing with their friends in the streets - a dangerous practice because people can contract diseases that enter the body through the feet, such as hookworm, tungiasis, or simply foot fungus. We also learned that the children of our customers commonly play with stray dogs near their homes, dogs that are infested with various diseases and can harm the children. We even studied the most basic cooking practices of the women. We discovered that women scrub their dals vigorously in an attempt to clean them, yet this practice actually removes many nutrients. This may seem trivial to us, but it makes all the difference in the world to families that need all the sustenance that they can get. We incorporated these ideas that we learned on these research visits into our lesson plans. We also conducted surveys to ensure that the advice we would be giving to the customers was realistic for them to implement in their lives.
The program will consist of six modules to be conducted at Ujjivan center meetings. The lesson plans include personal hygiene, nutrition, common illnesses, HIV & AIDS, maternal & infant health, and vaccination. The information in every lesson is presented in a story and accompanied by colorful flip charts. Each lesson also features coloring activities, games, and demonstrations to make them interactive. By making the lessons entertaining and reiterating important points throughout the lesson, we will be able to make an impact on our customers.
Syllabus for the program:
Personal Hygiene The personal hygiene module shows simple methods of clean living and shows the detrimental effects of not employing healthy practices into everyday life.
Nutrition This lesson emphasizes the concept of a balanced meal incorporating lentils, grains and vegetables. We discuss the relative prices between healthy and unhealthy foods, as well as realistic changes that they can make to their diets to prevent malnutrition.
Common Illnesses This module concentrates on common illnesses that are prevalent in the slums. Our goals for this lesson were to explain simple germ transmission, show the women how simple bad habits can lead to disease, and make them aware of the symptoms of serious illnesses so they would know when to go to the doctor. Additionally, we discussed some home remedies that would cure milder diseases.
HIV/AIDS Though controversial, this topic is important to focus on, especially since Karnataka is in the top six states in India for HIV prevalence. This module focuses on creating awareness about responsible sexual behavior and clearing up the myths about HIV and AIDS by using entertaining games and demonstrations.
Maternal & Infant Health So often, pregnant women overlook their own health to take care of their families. This not only harms the mother, but also harms the unborn child. Here, we focus on dietary practices for pregnant women and infants, as well as emphasize the correct weaning practices. This will teach the women how to prevent anemia in themselves and their children.
Vaccination The government provides free immunizations for basic infectious diseases. However, many of our customers do not take advantage of this. They do not understand why these immunizations, which make their children unhappy (after all, they hurt!), are important. In this module, we show why vaccinations are so important and motivate the women to get their children completely immunized.
We are currently looking for funding to hire trainers and start the health education module amongst Ujjivan customers. By the end of the program we hope to empower the women and help them make health-conscious decisions that would have positive effects on their families.
Modules prepared and designed by Sanjana Malviya.
Sanjana is studying Neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, with the goal of eventually becoming a doctor. She spent three months working with us as an intern on vaccinations and developing the health education program.