Welcome to Newsletter 17
This is a chunky one full of a lot of detail about the Base Line Survey. We hope you find it interesting and informative. If the detail is too much, then just enjoy the photos!  :-)  Apologies that there hasn’t been one sooner. Personal commitments have not made it possible.

As explained in our last newsletter, we are embarking on an ambitious Reproductive and Child Health program across the entire Guraru Block. Before delivering the program we have been doing a Base Line Survey (BLS) to establish a benchmark for the awareness and health status of our target group ie women between the ages of 15 and 60. This consisted first of Mapping all the villages in the Block, filling out Village Registers with the demographic details of all the households and also  carrying out Focussed Group Discussions among the women of each village.
Last week, staff had a 3 day training and practice in the field of delivering the questionnaire using digital tablets. They are now ready to run the questionnaire to 30% of the target groups, all women between 15 and 60, some unmarried, some married, some with children and some menopausal. Results of all this data will not only give us a base line to compare to, once the program has been delivered for some time, but also allow us to adjust the program to most appropriately meet their needs. An added advantage of doing the survey is that we have been raising the awareness of the local women to our presence and to what our program will do to benefit them. Below is a detailed explanation of all these facets of the Base Line Survey (BLS), taken from our monthly staff reports with some additions by way of explanation from us.

Mapping the Villages
On different dates, the work of mapping was done in different villages between 11 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. It took around a month to cover all the villages. At the villages, all the animators, supervisors along with coordinator Sarika were involved in the mapping work. First of all they gathered all the village women of the particular village to participate in drawing the map on tarps with powder. After they had done this, the village women drew the map on paper with the help of a sketch pen. In some villages, a few men were also involved in drawing the village map because of their vast knowledge of the whole village area.
Village women drawing village map for staff
Village woman explains map to Madhuri & Srimanti    Renu and village woman draw map together

Focused Group Discussions (FGDs)
Staff conducted a series of Focused Group Discussions. This is what is called qualitative data and gives an opportunity for the women in Guraru Block to tell us what their concerns are around Reproductive and Child Health. The issues raised are being used to inform the Base Line Survey Questionnaire, which is known as quantitative data and will give us an indication of how much these issues occur in our target groups.
The work of Focused Group Discussions was done on the same day in the same villages as the mapping, between 1.30 to 4.00 p.m. Around 16 to 20 women gathered in each village for the focussed group discussion. The discussion started with the animator’s introduction.  The women discussed topics like – why vasectomy is much easier than tubal ligation, why girls should get married at the age of 18 years and the boys at 21 or later, why pregnant women are given iron tablets at the time of pregnancy, why colostrum is beneficial for the new born baby. The animators were writing the answers of discussed questions on their note diary. Staff member Renu conducting FGDs with married women
Staff member Indu takes notes as women engage in a lively discussion
Also around 16 to 20 adolescent girls and boys gathered separately in each village for the Focused Group Discussions with male and female supervisors. The discussion started with the staff member's introduction. They were bringing interest among the adolescent girls and boys by discussing topics like – why teenagers should not marry before they reach adulthood? What precautions should girls have at the time of monthly menstruation? 

FGD feedback: After completion of all FGDs, a table was completed by staff showing areas covered in these discussions. They fell into 6 broad categories (with some overlap as you will see).
Family Planning
*Accessibility & skills of practitioners  * Contraception Information * Non Scalpel Vasectomy NSV) and Tubal Ligation myths  * Spacing of children  * Early childbirth (young age)  * Abortion (preference for sons) 
Prenatal, Natal and Post Natal
*Pregnancy testing  * Pre and post neonatal  care  * Safe vs unsafe delivery  * Early breastfeeding – myths re colostrum not being good for babies  * Role of Service Providers
Adolescent Issues
*Menstruation information  * Early marriage and early childbirth 
*Information re pulse polio programme and other vaccinations
Health Risks
*Spacing of Children (anemia, weakness)  * Abortions  * Colostrum myth
Social Issues
*Dowry - social pressure leading to early marriage and early childbirth as well as son preference 
* Lack of male/spouse support and involvement  

Village Registers
Following the Village Mapping and Focused Group Discussions, Village Registers were compiled by staff members, going house to house and getting the demographic details of each household. Of particular interest for the conducting of our Base Line Survey (BLS) are the details of the women between 15 and 60 in each household:  whether they are married, whether they have children, what ages the children are etc. When we come to run the BLS Questionnaire we can then target the households we need to for each sample. 
Suman Devi enjoys a laugh with a village woman, while Renu fills in the register
Indu helps woman fill in register details
Some staff faced some challenges from villagers while filling out the registers
  • According to the villagers, these types of surveys are baseless and have no benefits
  • Male Government agency staff come into their villages and survey but do nothing. They enter the wrong information in their survey registers; as a result of this, the villagers don’t get any benefits.
  • They show discontent with all this. They wonder if this is also going to be the same with this organization (WEIV).
Listening to all this, the staff members tell the people of the program that they will be running in future - helping them to have safe delivery, bringing awareness about not marrying the girls before attaining 18 years of age, helping them in having full ANC coverage and complete immunization, giving them information about their health related entitlements etc.
Hearing all this from female staff members, they eagerly wait for their turn to get their family details entered in the staff register. In other words, people rely more on women’s words rather than men. 
Lalmani fills in the register in this household                    Madhuri and Srimanti in Mahuli Village
Sarika and Reeta in Mahmadpur Village, with household all engaged
Villagers are eager to know what are the objectives of the base line survey
  • What activities will there be after the survey
  • Villagers also share some problems with us regarding health issues like lack of Health Facilities, lack of Health Staff, lack of medicines in Primary Health Centres , Health Sub centres are not functioning well and communication problems, etc
In reply our staff shared the objectives of the survey as well as activities which will be done by WEIV after the survey. Apart from direct educational programs, and running programs to create awareness among them regarding health issues, staff will liase with Government Health Departments regarding the present poor status of Health Services. We have assured villagers that we will help them to mobilize to advocate for and achieve their rights. Eventually they will have the skills and confidence to stand on their own feet.   
Renu and Lalmani fill in the details provided by the men of this household
Naresh Jee engages with the men of the household while Suman Devi looks on

The completion of the registers covering so many households has been a huge task requiring careful organisation and teamwork by the staff. Until November, 94 villages have been covered by the staff. Below is a table showing the amount of work covered in November with a tally of households visited.           
Household registers completed in this month by the following teams
Name  Village Name In Nov No of House
holds in November
Total Households covered until November
*Naresh  & Sunita

*Naresh & Suman

* Naresh & Indu
Sekhpur and Barorah

*Rita & Indu
*Indu & Premlata
*Premlata & Suman
Pananiya and Rajabigha  nirdhanbigha , Balia.
Mahimapur, Indil
*Rita & Sunita Mahuain, Sudarshnbigha,Jakariya , Ghatera.                                               784  
*Madhuri & Srimanti
*Taraunchi, Dhanabigha, Aliganj, Ramubigha, Barorah                               
* Bajubigha
Renu & Lalmani Malpa, Matukbigha, Bela, Dadnapur, Budhpur, Mathurapur                                                   980  
      Total     4,204       17,688
Base Line Survey Questionnaire
The aim is to cover a total of approximately 4,000 households, each team of two going to 10 households per day. The questionnaire will be done on digital tablets, two staff members per tablet. This will save the use and expense of a huge amount of paper, especially given that some sections are only relevant to certain members of the sample population. It will also allow for quick and efficient feeding of results to our IT man who can then readily collate and interpret the information received so that a report can be issued promptly. This will enable us to appropriately tailor the health program for each target group. Training the staff in use of the tablets has also given them new skills, for the future.
There will be random sampling of 30% of the target group in each category.
Target groups are:
Adolescent girls, Young married couples with baby under 12 months, Married couples with children 12 to 24 months, Menopausal women, Unmarried adolescent girls from 15 years
Questionnaire Sections
  • Family Planning
  • ANC  Delivery
  • Immunization
  • Reproductive Tract Infections
  • Adolescent Health
  • Quality of Care for newborn and mothers
  • Functioning of Anganwadi (mother/child support centres)
  • Vocational Training
The survey questionnaire is available on our website if you would like to look at it.

Impact Survey
A follow up survey using the same questionnaire will be done in about 3 years’ time, (depending on the progress of the Reproductive and Child Health program). It will be of the same percentage of each target group (but not necessarily of the same people as they or their children will have aged, died, moved etc). 

Other News
All staff present at their meeting in Guraru Office
Staff meet fortnightly at the office to report on their work, discuss any problems and plan for the coming fortnight.
WEIV staff are making connections with other agencies working with health in the area. On 22/6/2014 they went to the offices of LSSK (our financial auspicing organisation, which also works with Women’s Empowerment) in Pariya. Pariya is a town near Guraru, where our office is. They attended a training where they discussed/learnt about following points:
1. How to freshen our mouth and teeth (dentist department)
2. Gynaecological issues.
3. Blood sugar problem.
4. General health problems regarding fever, cough, headache, pain in knee.
Again all staff of WEIV went to Pariya on 30/06/2014 and met UNICEF Staff.

Spiritual Visit and Staff Connection 
On 7th- 9th August, staff members took a trip to Vindhyachal a holy site in Uttar Pradesh. Everyone enjoyed the trip very much. Vindhyachal, a Shakti Peet, is a center of pilgrimage in Mirzapur district. It is 70km from Varanasi. A renowned religious city it is dedicated to goddess Vindhyavasini. Mythologically goddess Vindhyavasini is believed to be the instant bestower of benediction. There are several temples of other deities in the surrounding area, the most famous ones being Ashtabhuja Devi, Sita Kund and Kalika temple. 

Indian Independence Day
On 15th August, an auspicious day, all the staff members met in the office premises and celebrated Indian Independence Day. The flag hoisting ceremony took place followed by the National Anthem Jana Gana Mana. Later they had sweets.
A sign has been made (with appropriate misspelling) for the outside of the office.
Although LSSK is not ‘organising‘ the program,  and merely auspicing our financial arrangements, (WEIV staff in combination with Graeme and Wendy do this), somehow this is how it was printed up. Ah well, sometimes some things fall through the cracks when they travel across the seas.

Australian News
The Carboot Market continues to be a wonderful source of income for us, with donations of clothes, books, cds, dvds, jewellery and various precious bric a brac being gratefully received. We have quite a few new members on the team: Naomi, Meg and Patrick. Gertrud has returned to help out and together with our trusty long term supporters: Bruce, Linda, Jozie and Nicky with an occasional helping hand from Micky, we pull it together really well and make between $700 and $1,000 each market. Simon of Organigrow regularly donates up to 45 dozen organic free range eggs, which get snapped up at $6 a dozen and we received 200 cakes of lemon myrtle soap from Refresh. We are so grateful for the support from these two companies.
Naomi selling Organigrow eggs and Wendy with our wares, the tv running photos of the program
We ran a successful film night called 'Journey in my Mother’s Footsteps' at the Lismore Library on 15th August. Those attending also learned more about our program and one generous woman signed up for a monthly donation. We have about 60 people doing this and together with the markets and an organisation called Buy1 Give1, which supports donations to us (see their website, we are able to send about $1,800 to India to pay the wages of our 13 staff plus administration costs. On top of that we send regular amounts for staff trainings and recently sent money to buy the digital tablets.
Thank you to all of you who donate time, money and goods. Without you, the wonderful work of empowering the women of Guraru would not be possible. We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. Could you please pass it on to at least one other person you know? In this way, the word will spread and maybe some more generous donors will come our way.
Graeme and I head for India in mid January and will spend some time with the project, both getting reports of all the work done and planning for the coming year. If you would like to meet us there, or talk about anything to do with the program, you are most welcome, please contact us.
Wendy & Graeme
Become a supporter of ARD by donating monthly or as a one off. Please visit our website
Volunteer your time, offer your skills, set up an ARD support group, hold a presentation in your home. Please contact us. We'd love your support!
In the Norther Rivers? Check out our stalls at the Car Boot Market in Lismore 3rd Sunday of the month. Goods to donate? Ring Bruce on 66220485.