One of our most reliable strategies in fighting hunger is to train community health workers, also called community mobilizers. Foranti, Baran, and Balram share what keeps them motivated to improve health and nutrition in their communities.
Foranti: Motivated to Change Minds
When she was a young girl, Foranti fought with her parents to allow her to go to school. “Usually the girls of my community don’t study. But I wanted to get educated to become a successful person,” she says.
As a teenager, she volunteered for one of Action Against Hunger’s partners in her village, Khandela Khedi. “After school, when I had spare time, I used to go to field and work.” Foranti would take body measurements of children and give information to health workers to assess them for malnutrition.
Eventually, in 2015, Foranti was hired by Action Against Hunger as a Community Mobilizer – now she is responsible for 20 villages. She screens children for malnutrition, referring severe cases to the nearest treatment center. She visits pregnant women and malnourished children in their homes. Foranti also hosts group discussions with mothers, adolescent girls, and men in the community.
“I’d like to change the mindset of both my family and the community because a lot of people do not allow girls to get educated. This is bad for all of us,” Foranti explains. Most of the women in her village are also not allowed to do work outside of their homes or to leave without permission of male family members. Foranti has seen that her group discussions are starting to change this: the community recognizes the value of her sessions and many women are now allowed to attend.
“Women should be able to make their own decisions and go wherever they want to. This is what we should change to create a better world,” she says. “I am very happy to have the opportunity to go out and break those restrictions. Hopefully things will change soon. We have a lot to do.”
Kavita: Driven to Share Knowledge
When Kavita, 28, finished her schooling in 2012, she found herself with a lot of spare time – then she met Action Against Hunger. Our survey team recruited her to join as a Community Health and Nutrition Worker. As she worked, she found fulfilment in improving children’s health and in equipping herself with new skills.
“Malnourished children were treated and became healthy and formed a bond with us even though we were not related,” she explains. “We started with zero knowledge on this subject, but we were trained by the organization, we passed these lessons on to families and they became wiser. I get a lot of motivation from realizing that I am doing good work…that’s why I am still here.”
Balram: Committed to Saving Lives
Balram, 34, is from Mamoni village, and has been working as an Action Against Hunger community mobilizer since 2017.
“I am motivated by the people in my village, because it feels good to save a child who could be on the verge of death due to problems derived from malnutrition,” he explains.
Recently, during one of his routine house-to-house screenings, Balram met three-year-old Bhumika and her mother Sunita. After an examination, he found that Bhumika suffered from severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of hunger – and immediately referred her for treatment at the Action Against Hunger Nutrition Center.
Bhumika spent 16 days at the center, receiving lifesaving care and daily check-ups from a doctor and playing with the center’s toys as she regained her strength. At the same time, Sunita attended counselling sessions on nutritious food and healthy feeding practices.
When Bhumika was discharged, our teams sent mother and daughter home with a basket full of ingredients to help improve her diet. They gave Sunita a cooking demonstration to show her how to make the most of the food basket. Over the next six weeks, Balram and a public health worker visited the family’s home regularly to monitor Bhumika’s health and prevent a relapse.
“Before, Bhumika would be inactive, but now she is more cheerful and playful. Her milk and food intake has increased. Her weight has improved,” says Balram, who continues to keep a close eye on Bhumika’s progress. He and his team visit twice a month for ongoing counselling and information sessions.
“They gave me a bowl to keep track of her appetite and measure how much she’s eating,” says Sunita. “I take Bhumika to the treatment center every two weeks for a check-up and get her weight checked every week…she is much better now.”
Balram has been offered a management position, but has chosen to work as a mobilizer because he wants to be close to the community and to continue to help children like Bhumika.
“I don’t want to be stuck in an office, I like to work with vulnerable people in our society,” he says. “Money can be earned at any point of time in life, but you won’t always get the opportunity to help people.”