Our Daughter-In-Law Does Not Go Out
It wasn't at all easy to convince Gita's in-laws in village Gunha to let her go to the food distribution centre to collect bulgar and oil. "Our daughter-in-law does not go out anywhere. How can she go to such a public place to collect food? I will go instead," said Gita's mother-in-law. Shivdulari, the VHW, then explained to her that that cannot happen. The rule is the beneficiary will collect the food personally. But that did not make any difference; Gita's mother-in-law did not change her mind because daughters-in-law in their caste did not go out.
Shivdulari then met the mother-in-law's brother, who is a teacher at the local school. He told her categorically, "There is no point trying to persuade, Gita will not go to fetch the food." Shivdulari then tried to convince this man: "How does it matter which caste your family belongs to? A daughter-in-law is precious to every family of every caste. You are a teacher, if you talk like this, what can we expect of others?"
The lady principal of the school, who was sitting there, also agreed and told her colleague: "Yes, you are a teacher. You should help people break the old pattern." The man then agreed to talk to his sister, Gita's mother-in-law. Shivdulari knew the battle had been won. Gita's mother-in-law was a widow and depended on her brother for family decisions. Sure enough, Gita was then allowed to go to collect the food from the distribution centre in the village. Her mother-in-law too would accompany her on those occasions.
Her mother-in-law also started going to the monthly sessions where the VHW spoke on various topics related to child and maternal health. The two women are now eager learners of the BCC program. They will tell you about the seven behaviours to be adopted for a healthy mother and child. The whole family will go whenever there is a puppet show in the village regarding safe motherhood and child survival. They have also come to realise the importance of breastfeeding soon after childbirth.
Gita has three children. He eldest is 12 years old. All three were c-section deliveries. They all expect the fourth child will also be born after surgery. Both Gita and her mother-in-law regret that the children could not be given breast milk soon after they were born. It is after 24 hours of the surgery that Gita becomes conscious. Only then she feeds her newborn.
Seeing Gita adopt the seven behaviours recommended in the BCC program, her sister-in-law too has started paying heed to them. She is married in other village in another district. Both she and her mother regret that there is not such program in her village. Otherwise she too would have been a regular.