Village-based creche program run by JSS in Chhattisgarh ensures good care and nutrition for children between 6 months – 3 years
“I feel very reassured now when I leave my child at the creche in my village. I can work at peace and earn some money to give a good future for my child. He was under-weight when he was born. Thanks to the phulwari centre, where he got nutritious care, he is now getting back to normal,’’ says Shanti, mother of eight-month old Vivek.
“I feel assured that my child is in safe hands,’’ says Nirmala, mother of three-year-old Dhiren.
Shanti and Nirmala are just two of the many mothers who have benefited immensely from a village-based crèche program called Phulwari, run by Oxfam India partner Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) in Bilaspur district of Chattisgarh. As part of the program, village-based crèches are being run in 61 villages with the aim of improving the nutrition status of children under three years and also to support the parents who work in the forests.
Phulwari was initiated by JSS to address the huge problem of malnutrition in children between the ages of 6 months to three years. The current Government Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) program does not provide day care to children from 3-6 years. Phulwari is a crèche service which provides nutritious food appropriate for this age group under supervision along with day care. Each child gets 100 gms of rice, 20 gms daal, 5 ml oil, 60 gm sattu per day and 2 boiled eggs twice a week. The aim of the program is to improve the much required physical, immunologic and neuro-developmental growth potential of these children.
The response to the crèches has been largely positive, and parents feel that it answers one of their main needs – that of child care – when they have to go out to work. With the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the demand for crèches has increased. Timing of the crèche varies as per the requirement of the community – in summer when NREGA work begins at 4 am to avoid the heat of midday, the phulwari center starts functioning at the same time. Women with very young children return to the crèche twice a day to breast feed their children.
Phulwari is a crèche service which provides nutritious food appropriate for this age group under supervision along with day care. Each child gets 100 gms of rice, 20 gms daal, 5 ml oil, 60 gm sattu per day and 2 boiled eggs twice a week.
“I can work now without worrying, I am happy that my child is well fed at the creche, not just rice and wheat, but wholesome and nutritious food. Earlier I used to rush back home from work, to attend to my child at home. I used to be more concerned about his health and couldn’t feed him at the right time. But now I am happy as children at the center are given one cooked meal and two snacks of a high protein-high energy mixture called “sattu” during the five to six hours that they are here. More recently, children are being provided with an egg two days a week. The phulwari is also equipped with toys to stimulate learning,” says Nirmala.
“My day starts with preparing breakfast and lunch for me and my husband before we go to the jungle for work. Our life has improved since the phulwari has started in our village. I am now able to help run the family by working in the jungle and earn a better living for my children as my kid is being taken care of in the crèche,’’ adds Shanti.
Ramabai, age 38, from Jhingatpur, Kota Block, Bilaspur district has been working as a creche worker for 7 years. She is taking care of 22 children with the help of her mother. Though uneducated, she has received training from JSS on the diet of children and other hygiene related aspects.
She was contacted by the Village Health Worker (VHW) from JSS who introduced her to the Phulwari program. The VHW nominated her name to the JSS office. A meeting was held regarding the same and the VHW sought the approval of villagers to delegate the responsibility to Ramabai.
The villagers were more than happy to see Ramabai conduct the Phulwari program in Jhingatpur village. She receives an income of Rs.1500/- every month from JSS for running the crèche.
“I feel that serving these kids would fetch me a place in the heavens. I re-live those memories of my motherhood, when my children were young and the efforts that I took to bring them up,” she says.
At the Phulwari, if a child has some health issue, Ramabai contacts the VHW who intern contacts the parents and prescribes the required medicines to them.
As part of the Village Health Program, as many as 104 village health workers (VHWs) have been trained to provide primary preventive and curative services for common illness such as malaria, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, and scabies, which are otherwise major causes of morbidity and mortality in young children. All the VHWs are women who have been selected by their respective villages, and work on a voluntary basis.
Original Title: No hungama here as young children are looked after well at the Phulwaris
First Published in Oxfam India newsletter, February 2012