Who is a Swasthya Kiran ?
She is a community volunteer residing in the village she serves. They receive trainings on various health topics pertaining to the need of their community. They spread their knowledge amongst their fellow community members. They are also responsible for linking patients (TB patients, malnourished children, pregnant women and other severely ill patients) to the health facility and frequently visit their homes to ensure everything’s going well. We at Basic HealthCare Services have a tribe of 120+ Swasthya Kirans who bridge the gap between the community and Amrit Clinic.
I work largely with Swasthya Kirans (SKs) who reside in the rural, tribal areas of Gogunda and Salumbar tehsil of South Rajasthan. A part of my work requires me to ensure the training and capacity building of these Swasthya Kirans on various health issues faced by the community.
When I started planning training for SKs, the first thing I needed to know was how to optimize the effectiveness of residential training sessions for them. For this, I needed to understand and respect their priorities. Twenty-two women from the areas around Rawach and Morwal in the Gogunda Tehsil were present for the training.
Women here are solely responsible to take care of their children. Their husbands usually migrate to cities in search of work. This meant that most women would bring their young ones along to the training. As much as I adore children, I knew that they will be a distraction for their mothers during training. We were already going to discuss some new topics and that would demand full attention from my participants. So to tackle this issue, I along with my team organised a mini day-care facility at the training centre for all the children. This way, the mothers could focus on the content being taught.
Language has been a hurdle during most of my field interactions. I have crossed 9 months on field and I am still being laughed at when I try to speak a few words of Mewadi/Bhomti dialects. Well, I believe it creates a good bond between us but for this training, it wouldn’t be easy. My broken Hindi would probably do half the job and my Mewadi/Bhomti would create a stage for stand-up comedy. I was fortunate to have the support of my mentor Dr. Sanjana Mohan, my co-worker Dashrath and the team who prepared the agenda and session plans together. Whenever I paused for too long to remember a word in Hindi, Dashrath would mindfully step in and fill the space. A team of local health workers have been my greatest pool of teachers.
Right now, the community is in preparation of the coming shower, the rain that will inaugurate the first crops of the season. With celebrations, it also brings in a life-threatening illness – Malaria. The aim of the training was to educate our Swasthya Kirans about Malaria – how does it happen, where does it happen, how does it reach us, how do we identify its symptoms, what are the dangers it brings, how do we seek treatment, what is the treatment, and ultimately, how must we practice the preventive measures. We spent the entire day speaking and discussing this.
Malaria isn’t the only threat around the corner. Children below the age of 7 are usual targets for severe diarrhoea. The causes and prevention were learned in harmonious repetition. I had anticipated that holding the attention of my participants for over one day is going to be a challenge. I needed to have an interactive space. So I designed the schedule in such a way that there was a little more fun and tiny sips of learning throughout.
Most of the training was delivered with the help of videos and pictures. This helped immensely to keep the participants interested and engaged in the training. We had all our materials in hand, like flipbooks, pamphlets, and mosquito nets for demonstration. Role-plays are amusing for everyone and are effective in the teaching-learning space. The SKs took turns practicing their mock Diarrhoea and Malaria sessions in the community.
In order to keep their spirits high, we decided to integrate one thing that is most special for them – dance. The Timli dance originating from the tribal belt of South Rajasthan is a super hit! The women enjoyed the two 10-minute dance forums. It served as a refresher after long conversations.
Being a trainee for multiple sessions in the past year, I am fully aware of the importance of a good revision. The participants were divided into groups in the end. Each of them received a chart paper with situational and informational questions relating to the training topic. Our team of health workers sat with each group and revised every point.
In the end, we asked them to form groups again and share one promise they would like to make and practice after they leave. Some of the promises were as follows:
Tipa Bai – “I promise to ensure that my home, the area around my home and eventually my hamlet is clean and most holes with water are covered with mud. This way we will be able to combat Malaria.”
Saroj Bai – “I promise to ensure that the people in my village understand the importance of a good diet and the role it plays to prevent diseases.”
Durga Bai – “I promise to keep in mind handwashing and also advocate for it in my village.”
Aogi Bai – “I promise to ensure that whenever I hold meetings, the people are sitting on the same level, everyone receiving equal respect & provide the right information during the same.”
Thavri Bai – “I will practice everything taught from here so that people follow my actions.”
Basic Healthcare Services has regularly reinforced the merit of quality. Quality in service is procured when the quality in training is earnest. Overall, the training space imparted lessons, not only to the trainees but also to the trainers!