Genesis (Click here to read about years 2000-2003 in an essay by co-founder, Noah Levinson).
2000: Introduced to Calcutta
2001: Return to Calcutta; idea to start a mobile clinic; first funds raised
2002: Partnership established; Mobile Health Clinic started; support for the work
2003: The work continues
2004: Calcutta Kids Inc. formally established
2005: Not-for-profit status achieved; focus shifts from preventative to curative; Noah moves to Calcutta full-time; Calcutta Kids Trust born; first office leased; MYCHI started
2006: Fakir Bagan is designated as CK’s area; needs assessment conducted; finding community health workers; health camp started; home visits started
2007: Program fully running; improvements identified; study on low cost health insurance conducted
2008: Micro Health Insurance Program developed; database established; nutrition supplementation offered; grant received for health insurance program
2009: Insurance program agreement signed; insurance program launched; award received to begin center for diarrhea treatment
2010: IFMR Trust relationship formed; ICDDR,B relationship formed; FCRA permission received
2011: Diarrhea Treatment Center opens; pilot program in nutrition begins; Micro Health Insurance Program ends; staff growth; Jolkona collaboration; community center purchased
2012: DTC renamed to Calcutta Kids Swastha Kendra and Calcutta Kids Community Center is named Maa O Sishu Siksha Kendra
- Introduced to Calcutta: Two friends, just out of high school, Sohrab Noshirvani, an Iranian Muslim, and Noah Levinson, an American Jew, spend the summer before college in Calcutta, India working at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying Destitutes. In their work, they meet a street kid about their age named Sudip.
- Return to Calcutta: Sohrab and Noah, profoundly impacted by their experience in Calcutta the summer before, return to Mother Teresa’s and reunite with Sudip who banged his head against a rusty nail, did not receive basic medical care and is now dying in the Home for the Dying Destitutes. The friends are with Sudip as he dies. The death is deeply upsetting as it is clear that with access to very basic health services, Sudip would not have died.
- Idea to start a mobile clinic: While moved and inspired by the work taking place at the Home for the Dying Desitutes, the friends decide that they need to do something to prevent children like Sudip from dying. They come up with an idea to start a mobile health clinic. They team up with a local organization specializing in the delivery of services to street children and create a partnership in which that organization runs the mobile health clinic with funds raised by Sohrab and Noah.
- First funds raised: Passionate and driven, Sohrab and Noah return to the United States and present the idea of the mobile health clinic to everyone they know and request funding assistance. Within a few short months, they raise $30,000 which was enough money to start the mobile health clinic.
- Mobile clinic started: Equipped with an idea; funds; and a partnership with a local organization, Don Bosco Ashalyam, Noah takes a temporary leave of absence from college and moves to India to start the mobile health clinic. Guided by a local team consisting of a project manager, a doctor, a nurse, and a driver, the mobile health clinic carefully chooses more than a dozen areas in which once a month, the mobile health clinic visits and provides health checkups and medicines completely free of cost.
- Early friends in the work: Noah and Sohrab meet Lucy-didi and Irshad Ali.
- The work continues: Noah returns to the United States and resumes college as a part time student, dividing the remainder of his studies between course work on campus, and field work with the mobile health clinic in Calcutta. Each summer throughout college, Sohrab and Noah return to Calcutta to work with the Mobile Health Clinic. During that time, over 7000 medical examinations are provided to needy street children.
- Calcutta Kids established: The community of mobile health clinic supporters in the United States remains strong and committed and Sohrab and Noah create a not-for-profit corporation with the name Calcutta Kids Inc. and apply for United States tax exemption status under code 501c3.
- Not-for-profit status achieved: Calcutta Kids Inc. receives 501c3 status in the United States.
- Focus shifts from preventative to curative: Data from the Mobile Health Clinic shows little change in health status of served children. Calcutta Kids Inc. begins moving away from curative care of street children, to preventive care for pregnant women and children.
- Noah moves to Calcutta full-time: With the guidance and direction of the Calcutta Kids Inc. board of directors, Noah moves full time to Calcutta and begins the process of starting an Indian organization to invest in maternal and child health.
- Calcutta Kids Trust born: In cooperation with a newly formed board of directors in Calcutta, made up of business, medical and administrative professionals, the Calcutta Kids Trust (CKT) is born on 17th November 2005. Mr. Kalyan Kr. Roy is appointed Managing Director of the Trust.
- First office leased: CKT signs a lease of a small office at 51 Bhairab Dutta Lane in Salkia, Howrah—a five minute walk from the community Calcutta Kids hopes to work with.
- MYCHI started: In December 2005, CKT begins the Maternal and Young Child Health Initiative (MYCHI).
- Mobile health clinic moves: Don Bosco Ashalayam, the local parent organization of the Mobile Health Clinic, assumes full responsibility for the continuation of the mobile health clinic with continued funding over the next two years from Calcutta Kids Inc.
- Fakir Bagan is designated as CK’s area: With the leadership of Mr. Kalyan Roy and newly appointed MYCHI project coordinator, Mrs. Sumana Ghosh, CKT meets with local government bodies and requests permission to begin providing maternal and child health services to needy slum dwellers in a government ward to be decided by the government. Permission and blessings are given for CKT to serve a slum area called Fakir Bagan, a section of the larger slum known as The City of Joy, made famous internationally by Dominique LaPierre’s book by that same name.
- Needs assessment conducted: The MYCHI team conducts a survey of more than 500 randomly selected homes in Fakir Bagan to assess the needs of the community. The findings from this survey indicate high child mortality, poor health seeking behavior, poor pregnancy and breastfeeding practices, and a high incidence of low birthweight babies making it clear that Fakir Bagan is indeed the right place for the MYCHI launch.
- Finding Community Health Workers: Local women from Fakir Bagan and surrounding slum areas with the ability to read and write are invited to apply for work at CKT and be trained to become Community Health Workers (CHW).
- Health Camp started: MYCHI begins its work by opening a weekly health camp, held on Tuesdays, in which children under the age of 5, pregnant women, and mothers may receive a free health check-up, by a well-known, well-respected medical doctor from the area who many of these slum-dwellers could not afford to see on their own. The formation of the weekly health camp served the purpose of introducing CKT to the community and provided a platform from which MYCHI could begin its more preventive and personalized work in which trust of the organization by the people was inescapable.
- Home visits started: The newly trained CHW’s begin identifying pregnant women in the slum and create friendships with these women. The CHW’s go to their homes and provide pregnancy advice; vitamins and minerals which are beneficial for a healthy pregnancy; accompany these women to the CKT doctor when they need medical attention, and through CKT, provide 75% of the cost of a facility-based delivery to ensure a safe delivery.
- Program fully running: MYCHI becomes a fully-fledged program and more than 250 families are enrolled in the program.
- Improvements identified: Calcutta Kids notices a drastic improvement in birth weights after one year of the MYCHI intervention—75% of children born through MYCHI are born with a birth weight of above 2.5 kilograms. The average birth weight through MYCHI is 2.8 kilograms.
- Study on low cost health insurance conducted: Having recently learned about the inspirational works of Laila Bahg and her Self Employed Women’s Association in Gujarat, which was providing low cost health insurance to the poor, CKT is inspired to look into a possible replication in Fakir Bagan in which CKT provides access to health insurance and works in partnership with the poor to finance their own healthcare needs. A demand side study of community interest in low cost health insurance is conducted. The study determines that there is significant interest in Fakir Bagan for such a product.
- Micro Health Insurance Program developed: A recent graduate of economics from the University of Toronto of Indian descent joins CKT and leads the taskforce in developing a low cost health insurance product for the poor of Fakir Bagan.
- Database established: Committed to remaining an implementation organization, but realizing the importance of research with regard to the MYCHI intervention, which was already showing dramatic reduction in low birthweight, CKT begins carefully documenting its work and quantitatively storing information on every aspect of the pregnancy and early childhood intervention.
- Nutrition supplementation offered: Parents of MYCHI beneficiaries between the ages of 6-24 months are invited to purchase micronutrient sprinkles at a highly subsidized rate. Local women from Fakir Bagan are hired to sell the micronutrient sprinkles. The children who participate in the carefully monitored program drastically improve their weight for age.
- Grant received for health insurance program: The CKT team working on the low cost health insurance program receive a grant from the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Microinsurance Innovation Facility to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) examining the renewal effects of insured families who receive added value to the insurance product even if they did not make an insurance claim.
- Insurance program agreement signed: Agreement is signed with Government of India-owned United India Insurance Company to support a Calcutta Kids low cost health insurance product costing less than $2 per person per year with inpatient hospitalization coverage of more than $300.
- Insurance program launched: The Low Cost Health Insurance program is launched. In the first year of operations CKT sells more than 500 family policies
- Award received to begin center for diarrhea treatment: Using new data from the MYCHI database, it is found that up to 40% of the children aged 6-36 months who are malnourished suffer from growth faltering after a case of severe diarrhea. CKT uses this information to apply for and is granted a Development Marketplace award from the World Bank to start a small diarrhea treatment center for children, which would follow the WHO treatment guidelines for diarrhea using oral rehydration solution. Among 1000 organizations from around South Asia which applied for this Development Marketplace aimed at innovations to reduce child malnutrition, CKT was among 21 organizations which received the $40,000 award.
- IFMR Trust relationship formed: CKT forms alliance with the Center for Insurance and Risk Management, part of the IFMR Trust which provides research guidance and assistance to CKT’s low cost health insurance program and the associated ILO-funded RCT.
- ICDDR,B relationship formed: CKT forms relationship with the world famous International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) to act as an advisor to CKT’s new Diarrhea Treatment Center (DTC).
- FCRA permission received: CKT receives permanent FCRA permission from the Government of India to receive foreign funds for CKT’s activities.
- Diarrhea Treatment Center opens: The Diarrhea Treatment Center opens on March 15, 2011.
- Pilot program in nutrition begins: For six months, CK works with a small sample of malnourished children to find the causes of their malnutrition, provide needed treatment, and to use that information to improve protocols for the whole child health program.
- Micro-Health Insurance Program ends: While many of our Calcutta Kids beneficiaries purchased and benefited from the insurance program, many more, especially the most desperately poor, did not. For more information on our decision to phase this program out, read our Fall 2011 Newsletter.
- Staff growth: Calcutta Kids has 30 full-time staff, including a female doctor for the first time.
- Jolkona collaboration: CK begins collaboration with the Jolkona Foundation for improved ease in fundraising efforts.
- Community center purchased: a large flat in Fakir Bagan itself is purchased to provide a much needed space for many of CK’s activities
- DTC Renamed: The Diarrhea Treatment Center is renamed “Calcutta Kids Swastha Kendra” and becomes a broader maternal and child health center, continuing to treat diarrhea and also other ailments of pregnant women, mothers, and children from the area
- Community Center is named: Staff chose “Maa O Sishu Siksha Kendra” as the name for the new Calcutta Kids community center, a space built in the center of the slum area.