In a week’s time, twenty-five year old Santoshini will be a mother for a second time. “I’ve been very diligent this time around – I go for morning walks, eat well, and have been going for my check-ups regularly,” says Santoshini.
In many ways, Santoshini is lucky that she has her mother, Jhunnu, caring for her at such a crucial time. Santoshini, her husband, and their two-year old son, Shantanu, moved in with Jhunnu after a falling out with their in-laws. Jhunnu ensures that her expecting daughter and grandson’s diets are well balanced and she adds multiple vegetables to their meals. She wants the best for her daughter and her grandson.
Thanks to our program partner, Kandhamal Zilla Sabuja Vaidya Sangathan (KZSVS), Santoshini also has access to Vitamin Angels prenatal vitamins and minerals which help fill nutritional gaps in her diet. Santoshini says, “I feel like these tablets help me get through the day without feeling tired, plus, I have the energy to play with Shantanu!”
KZSVS has been successful in collaborating with the local Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) department (a Government of India initiative under the Ministry of Women and Child Development), together they encourage mothers to access their services which include supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition and health education, immunization, health check-ups and referral services.
Apart from Shantanu receiving his regular dose of vitamin A and deworming at the local “Anganwadi”(childcare centre) through KZSVS, Santoshini receives supplementary nutrition on a weekly basis from the local health worker. Santoshini is happy about visiting the childcare centre on a weekly basis, especially since she gets to meet other mothers and Shantanu gets to play with other children. “I feel that Shantanu has become more active than before, especially after receiving the vitamins and deworming,” says Santoshini.
Just as we are about to bid adieu to Santoshini and Shantanu after the distribution, we ask her what she wants most for the child she’s about to have. There’s a lot of hope and excitement in her voice as she says, “All I want is for my child to be born healthy.”