Sneha Purti reports on the kickoff discussion group for women which we offered in Delhi this summer. This time was designed to open doors of conversation that are normally tightly shut. In India, ladies rarely have the opportunity to talk together about reproductive and maternal health, female nutrition, or health care services available to expectant mothers. Believing that such conversations promote physical and psychological health, we invited a small group of ladies to come together and share their experiences. Sneha is both an employee for G.O.D. Int’l and a student of maternal health, working with our team of experts based in Nashville.
I thank God for this new beginning of ‘Hamari Awaz’ (Our Voice) which happened last week and turned out so wonderful. Thank you to the maternal health ladies from G.O.D. Int’l, who helped me prepare for this time.
This was my first time leading a maternal health discussion. However, I had been sharing with friends what I’ve been studying for the past year, about the history of maternal health and the need for more local midwives. My friends were very interested, but I felt a little nervous to lead this event.
One of my friends, Praveena, was always interested in knowing more about childbirth. I knew she would definitely want to come to this discussion. Another attendee was a lady named Mahima who works at our office, and to whom I had been talking about her baby and family in general. She’s a new mother, having delivered about a year ago, so I invited her as well. I also asked my good friend Rose to join, and one more young lady, Priya, attended who is single and works in church ministry. Stephany Dailey, a good friend from G.O.D. Int’l was here for the event, and she was pregnant herself.
Even though there were just 5 people other than myself, still there was a wide spread of experiences among us. Rose comes from North East India where they are open to talking about all issues related to maternal health. Praveena was born and brought up in Delhi but here it’s not common to talk about such matters. Mahima comes from Jharkhand (Eastern India) and has not been educated at all in reproductive health. Also, I wasn’t sure if she would be comfortable discussing personal issues with all of us. Priya was unmarried and the topics we were discussing were about pregnant women. So there was quite a large spread in experience!
This group discussion was prompted by showing pictures that people could relate to, to help get them talking. The one image which got the most attention was a picture of a village midwife (Hindi ‘Dai’) next to a gynecologist. I knew Mahima had her baby through a Dai in a local village, so I asked her to share her experience. She shared about both the hospital and the Dai treatment. She had chosen to use the midwife, which was a good experience for her. The other ladies were not even aware that such an option could exist. I added a few things which I have learned through my maternal health training this year. All the ladies were so amazed and everyone took part in the discussion, which was the best part of it. Everyone learnt from one another irrespective of their job or position, but knowing that all are women. Mahima had a story for most of the pictures we showed. It became so easy for us to listen and hear her stories. Stephany also added a few experiences in our discussion, her being pregnant.
When the ladies were asked if they would like to join again for a discussion in a month or two, all were excited for it. They want to meet “Danto Dai” (a local midwife, highly experienced) in one of the next discussions! Also, they want us to talk about topics like eating healthy, and which fruits and vegetables can supply the nutrients they need.
This is something which we miss to talk about in India and I believe more women will be interested and would love to join in this kind of discussion where we learn from one another.