During  our February visit to CINI we went to see CINI’s Sponsor A Mother and Her Baby program. Some of our Australian donors are sponsoring mothers in the villages of Diamond Harbour district, South of Kolkata, where the Hooghly River enters the Bay of Bengal.

After reaching as far as the vehicle could take us we continued on foot through the village surrounded by padi fields. We passed ponds, tube wells, mud huts, and an occasional brick house. Most people have “joint families” were the daughters-in-law join their husband’s family. Cooking is done together by the women of the family on clay stoves built into the ground.

For the last four years, I have met up with Millie, supervisor of the local health workers. She guides these village women in caring for mothers and children

These “self-help-group” woman are trained by CINI and help about 90 women and children each. Twice a month they visit pregnant mums providing support and education. They make sure they get to the antenatal clinic, understand why hospital births is safer and importantly, help the young mother in those first few years of her babies life. This has a huge effect on preventing malnutrition and childhood illness.

Soumitas, the health worker took us visit Naseema (name changed), in Giopalpur village. She was 7 months pregnant with her first baby. She is 24 years and in spite of weighing 35 kilograms, was well. She was having regular antenatal care and taking her iron. She lives in a joint family and her husband is a daily labourer, which is unreliable and low income work. Her confidence with the health worker was evident.

Naseema’s mother was probably also  malnourished and anaemic from childhood. As a result, Naseema is under weight and her baby ‘at risk’.  Through “Sponsor A Mother” she receives close attention and support for the “first 1000 days”. We can expect her baby to be born safely in hospital, weigh at least 2.5kg, be better able to resist childhood illness and develop normally. This is the point of change for the next generation.

If you would like to give a hand to young mother from early pregnancy until her baby is two years old go to Sponsorships