March 19 2019

Preserving Health: How Our Programs Inform, Empower, and Promote Well-being

For the rural populations we support in India and Nepal, prevention is the best medicine. Karuna-Shechen focuses on prevention by informing and training villagers on proper nutrition, first aid, and hygiene practices, with a special focus on women and girls.

Increasing Proper Nutrition

In under-served areas of Nepal and India, malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. A UNICEF study reveals that nearly a third of Nepalese children under five are underweight, and in Bihar, India, were we have our operation center, more than 80% of children lack adequate nutrition.

Children who suffer from malnutrition have a greater susceptibility to infections and slow recovery from illness, and survivors of malnutrition in early childhood continue to suffer throughout their lives from weaker immune systems, diminished intellectual performance, and lower productivity.

Karuna-Shechen’s Nutrition Program aims to prevent malnutrition by increasing awareness, information, and training in the communities we serve. We use a variety of methods to reach the local population, including street dramas and poster campaigns, as well as home visits to discuss malnutrition in-depth. The main objectives of the program are to spread awareness regarding the causes of malnutrition, inform villagers about the necessity of a balanced diet, and promote kitchen-gardens.

One of the most empowering aspects of our Nutrition Program is our nutrition fairs, which aim to break the cycle of undernourishment. Targeting pregnant women and parents of children under five, we teach the importance of consuming a balanced and healthy diet, and the basics of growing a variety of vegetables. We also provide villagers with seeds and support to grow their own gardens and offer follow-up meetings for additional information and support.

Our program is effectively reducing cases of malnutrition among villagers. With increased access to knowledge and information of prevention methods, as well as practical hand-on tools, they are able to lead healthier, more productive lives.

First Aid Response

In remote mountain villages of Nepal, the nearest clinic can be a walk of several hours, if not days, away. Without ready access to care, villagers often don’t receive what they need to remedy problems, thus increasing preventable illness and exacerbating conditions into more complicated problems.

To help prevent worsening health conditions in these villages, Karuna-Shechen is training community members to respond to the health needs of their neighbors. In a series of training sessions, villagers learn first aid as well as maternity, pediatric, and adolescent care in order to serve the specific needs that most often arise within the community.

Our “Training of Trainers” (TOT) is an innovative way to extend the program’s impact. Villagers are trained within their communities and then pass on their knowledge and expertise to the inhabitants of neighboring villages, thereby progressively creating a network of community health responders in isolated areas.

With villagers trained and ready to respond to health needs, communities become healthier, safer, and more self-reliant.

Healthy Hygiene Practices

Because poor personal hygiene accounts for an estimated 70% of diseases affecting the female reproductive system, access to information and resources is paramount in increasing the health and well-being of women and communities.

Our Health and Hygiene program aims to foster greater awareness among the rural women and break taboos surrounding female health issues. Through outreach and information sessions, we disseminate information about the preventive and curative aspect of female health and hygiene. We also ensure women have access to affordable sanitary napkins and teach them the importance of proper use and disposal.

Women who understand the importance of their personal and community hygiene are able to improve the health condition of their family members and themselves.

To further improve well-being and prevent illness among women in rural villages, this year we are increasing our outreach and services to the mothers of children enrolled in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers we support in Bihar and Jharkhand. Teams comprised of nurses and trained community members will lead information sessions and provide resources for health, hygiene, and nutrition.

We anticipate serving 30 mothers from each of the 200 ECD centers, plus an additional 20 women from each community. Overall, we will reach 8,000 to 10,000 women, thereby improving personal hygiene and empowering women to prevent disease and increase the overall well-being of themselves, their families, and their communities.

Your support helps to preserve health in remote communities!