Post by Emma – Day 1 Village Tour

The Belaku trust has grown upon learning from their mistakes and replacing youthful hubris with humility and pragmatism. They are not trying to improve the lives of everyone, but if they can build a successful model here, maybe others can reproduce the same results elsewhere. The director, Saras, revealed that although she thinks that there has been progress in improving maternal healthcare in India, the progress has been far too slow. She asked if I knew the saying ‘there are lies, damned lies and statistics’ and said that never has there been a place where this is as true as it is in India. Although officially the number of women receiving prenatal care has increased, qualitative studies have revealed that hardly any of these women had their blood pressure checked or received a urine test. Saras talked at length about the caste system and the difficulties that the trust has faced trying to work against the system and encourage equality. She wishes to expand the work than Belaku does by teaching the women basic literacy and math skills, right now all they can do is sign their names but Saras believes that some literacy skills will go even further towards improving these women’s lives. Introduced us to the midwife who at one time served ten villages and a total of 5,000 people. Expected to visit each village once a week and complete malaria checks on all the children she was stretched beyond belief by the government policy. A problem that the midwife informed us of was the limited availability of fully trained midwives as well as transport, as often they are expected to walk between the villages, despite the physical toll and the use of time.

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