Tag Archives: education

A Message for the Community

I was recently asked, “If the population Calcutta Kids serves were to remember only one of the messages you give, what would it be?” Without any hesitation, I replied with a wonderful message I had just learned: “A child gaining weight cannot be very sick. A child not gaining weight cannot be very well.”

This is a message that Charles Janeway, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School told his students.

This simple, yet profound statement embodies the work of Calcutta Kids; it provides convincing verbal ammunition against many of the daily battles we fight against long-held superstitions, misinformation, and a general lack of understanding regarding the importance of good nutrition during the first 1000 days.

Explaining the science behind the cognitive and physical developments that occur in the first 1000 days of life depending on nutritional status is nearly impossible for an uneducated mother to understand. Counseling, behavioral change communication, growth monitoring and promotion, and access to healthcare — indeed everything we do at Calcutta Kids — does lead to reaching the objective of good nutrition within the window of opportunity. But the programs and the activities are not enough. In our efforts to get people to care about nutrition, I believe we are underutilizing our greatest resource — the women themselves with whom we work — the true movers and shakers. If these women truly grasp what we are trying to achieve for their children and why they will figure out ways to help others understand the problem; they will take the challenge personally and seriously; and they will ensure that they themselves are well looked-after during pregnancy and will ensure that their children get the nourishment they need at the right time.

There is simply no question that every mother wants what is best for her child. But in order to assure that she provides what is best to her children, she needs to understand and really believe that proper nutrition will make a difference.

We have translated Janeway’s message into Hindi and are promoting it as a sort of mantra for Calcutta Kids. Before long I hope that every pregnant woman and mother we work with will know the mantra — but more importantly will grasp its meaning.

Jab bache ka ho sahi vikas…

To hain ye sehat ka agaaz…

Jo bacha na ho mota Zindagi bhar hain woh rota…

(A child gaining weight cannot be very sick. A child not gaining weight cannot be very well.)

– Noah Levinson

Staff Enriched Through Education Sessions

Breastfeeding Education Session Lecture

At Calcutta Kids we are currently revising our Child Health Initiative to strengthen and make improvements to our program activities. The revisions will be based on changes in international guidelines and lessons learned over the past six years. We recently carried out a similar process with the Maternal Health Initiative which included improved monitoring and evaluation, curriculum and protocol development, and in-depth trainings with our community health workers and other MYCHI (Maternal and Young Child Health Initiative) staff. Training and counseling will also be a major component of the child health redesign, particularly as we do not have a standardized training curriculum or comprehensive materials for child health counseling. Previous trainings have been informal and primarily verbal, using limited resources.

Case Study Group Work

At present we have two interns from George Washington University (Lisa and Lindsay) who are working on behavior change communication (BCC) at Calcutta Kids. Under the guidance of the MYCHI program coordinator and manager (Sumana and Danya), they are developing a curriculum for child health education sessions, and creating flipcharts with child health messages to be used by our community health workers and health clinic staff. The education sessions were launched this month comprising of all the relevant child health-related topics that we address at Calcutta Kids. So far we have held education sessions for our health workers and health center staff on Initiation of Breastfeeding, Postnatal Care, Care of a Low Birth Weight Baby, and Complimentary Feeding. Next month, we will be holding sessions on Immunizations, Care of a Sick Child, and Development Milestones.

Practicing Kangaroo Mother Care for Low Birth Weight Babies

Although most of these sessions are review for our old health workers, this serves as a comprehensive refresher training for them, and is crucial knowledge for new health workers and the health clinic staff. Our sessions have been both educational and fun for the staff, not only comprising of lectures, but also demonstration, case study competitions, and role play. The child health education sessions will ensure that all our staff have the same foundation of knowledge, which will enable them to give uniform information and messages to the community we serve. Following these sessions, our staff will be equipped with culturally appropriate flip charts to be used in home visits and community meetings. -Danya Sarkar