Reproductive and Child Health Training

Our Staff undertook a staff development training to build up their capacity and enhance their knowledge on Reproductive and Child Health from 5th to 8th October, 2013. It was run by Virinchi Development Services in Patna. Staff learned the facts about these areas and how to implement this program. More on this in our next newsletter.

Base Line Survey (BLS)
A staff training was run by Virinchi Development Services at our Guraru office from March 4th to 7th. Graeme and Wendy were lucky enough to attend and contribute while also spending time observing the staff in action and having some social time there as they slept in the office overnight with Sarika and the trainers.

Matish led the training. He is an excellent teacher, skilled at involving all participants.

It was good to have a woman trainer, Savita, as well. She is learning the skills of training groups.

The purpose of the Base Line Survey (BLS) is to understand where the target group (which is all the women and some men in the Guraru Block) are situated at present with regard to Reproductive and Child Health. There are 25,000 households in Guraru Block. It is divided into 10 Panchayats or local government areas with approximately 90 villages per Panchayat. Staff have commenced surveying two Panchayats at present.

The aim of the Base Line Survey (BLS) training was: 
  • To enable participants to understand the rationale and process of conducting each step in BLS and all aspects of Focused Group Discussions
  • To discuss the importance and need for indicators in the  Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) context
  • To explain the various types of indicators that are used and the relevance of these indicators
  • To familiarize participants with BLS format  and providing them an opportunity for testing the format through role play in classroom setting
  • To enhance the skills of participants by giving them an opportunity to use the BLS format in the field situation, communicate with respondents, fill in the BLS format and understand the problems that may arise while doing a BLS 

Detailed discussions were held on Village Health Mapping. This entails village members themselves working together to draw a map on a large tarpaulin on the ground with various coloured powders denoting roads, significant buildings in the villages and each house on each lane being drawn in. This exercise allows the village members to work together in gathering the information, drawing it and teaching our staff about village they are in.

It is a very good introduction to a village for the staff, as they are not coming in as the 'ones who know', but rather are learning from villagers themselves who know best about their own village.

Once the drawing on the tarpaulin is complete, staff draw the map onto a large piece of paper for future reference, when filling in a village register where they number each house and later for conducting the questionnaire aspect of the BLS. The staff also learned about interviewing, its importance, how to conduct an interview and 'dos and don'ts' while facilitating an interview.

Sunita, a staff member explaining the value of mapping while Savita, the trainer looks on and Anil, one of our supervisors makes notes.

A detailed discussion was also held on Focused Group Discussions (FGD). The staff members were briefed about introduction of FGD, their importance and how to conduct FGDs. All the staff members were also briefed about the BLS questionnaire format and role plays were conducted for administering the BLS questionnaire.

On the third day of training, all the staff members went to the Mahmadpur village of Guraru block to get hands on experience through facilitating the village health mapping exercise, administering the BLS questionnaire and conducting FGDs.

Village Women engaging in the village mapping exerci

The crowd of onlookers enjoying the action.

 The field exposure also helped in enhancing the facilitating skills of the staff through using the BLS format in the field situation, communicating with respondents, filling in the BLS questionnaire and understanding the problems that can arise while doing a BLS.

The above pictures show staff practising using the questionnaire with villagers

A close up of the villager in the photo above with her seventh child.

Some of the other gorgeous (cheeky) children in the household.

On the fourth day of the training, a debriefing was done in which all the staff shared their experiences, problems faced and key learning from the field exposure. Ms Wendy, Mr Graeme and Mr Matish also shared their observations and gave their feedback on facilitating the village health mapping exercise, BLS and FGDs effectively in the field.

The training and discussions were all held in the main room of our office. More info about the office below.

The staff members also prepared a plan to start implementing the Base Line Survey by initially conducting village health mapping and FGDs in the villages. The training ended with feedback from the staff about the training. 

After Graeme and Wendy had a three week break in beautiful Rishikesh, a day of training was held with staff practising Focused Group Discussions. Following this, another field visit was carried out where staff had a chance to practice skills learned recently.

Srimanti, (our newest staff member) in a black sari at the far end, practices and learns in situ about how to hold a Focused Group Discussion.

In a beautiful setting among trees, Suman Devi, (on the far right), one of our longest employed staff members, most ably practiced Focused Group Discussion.

In front of a temple with views of the mountains, Premlata (in bright pink on the right) led a Focused Group Discussion with very ken and vocal participants.

At the same meeting, Wendy thanked the village women for helping our staff practice and with huge smiles, they immediately invited her to come again any time. Wendy was eagerly assisted with translation on the day by two young teenagers. They are Shruti, who is the daughter of Anil and Rekha Chaurasia, who own the guesthouse where we stay in Bodhgaya, and Priyanka, the niece of one of our staff members, Anil Pathak.

Implementation Of Reproductive and Child Health Program
Currently the staff are focusing on the Base Line Survey work. Although this is a big undertaking we have chosen to do it, not only to acquire valuable data on the the villages' inhabitants, physical layout, and current health status and awareness in this field of health but also as it is an awareness raising process. By doing the Survey the women will become aware that a program of education and awareness is following and will look out for it.

Once all aspects of the Base Line Survey have been carried out in two Panchayats (local government districts) then 2 staff members will remain with these 2 Panchayats and begin to roll out the Reproductive and Child Health Program. Each Panchayat comprises approximately nine villages with approximately 200 households per village.

So as you can see the program is far reaching and ambitious scope and spread. Once the entire program has been delivered to all households and after approximately another year, we will run a follow up survey to gauge the success of the program and which areas still need to be worked with.

While Graeme and Wendy were in the field, some of the staff also practised delivering some of the health program, in particular the information about vasectomies. First participants are queried on their knowledge and misconceptions cleared up. Following this a detailed explanation of vasectomies is given. Women are targeted as they are the ones usually pressured into having a tubal ligation, a much more serious operation with much longer recovery times. If they have knowledge they can counter their families' pressure for them to have one and explain the alternative.

Village scene

Lalmani practicing explaining vasectomy to a group of village women, using a flip book.

Rita shows us the flip book with its graphic illustration.

As always in an Indian village, there are onlookers. This one is a future vasectomy candidate :-)

Our new office

The pictures below are of the office we rented for the first time last year after the organizational changes.

The foyer, used for all sorts of purposes.


View from the foyer, with kitchen entrance on far left, open door into the main room centre, and doorway into room where files etc are kept on right.

Well it's been a long one and thanks for hanging in: lots to let you know about our wonderful program which we both feel very happy and positive about.

And finally...
Everywhere we go, Graeme loves to hang out with the boys, and they love to hang out with him and his camera.

Last year we bought a motor scooter 'scooti' for Sarika. This year she 'hared' around with Wendy on the back, visiting government offices, zooming up and down the villages streets. She is the only woman in the area on a motor bike/scooter. Sometimes Wendy just closed her eyes.

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