The women in Mehma Sawai were having a lot of issues with their health, but with the Primary Health Centre located 4 km away and without transport, they sat back and ignored it.
Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease – the Punjabi diet and lifestyle were slowly wreaking havoc, with the prevalence of non-communicable disease increasing day by day.
ACF decided to do something about it – establishing a Health & Nutrition Centre in the heart of the village, to act as a focal point for educating people about food and health.
Renovating a place provided by the panchayat, activity commenced with a variety of sessions. Run by ACF’s Community Health Volunteer, Rajinder Kaur, slowly foot traffic began to pick up as people’s curiosity got the better of them.
With an aim to change ingrained eating practices, Rajinder also took to the streets – going door to door to distribute seeds for kitchen gardening to ensure more fresh green leafy vegetables in the daily diet.
And the strategy has been working. Jasveer Kaur was a widow trying to survive on a monthly pension of Rs. 1500. Jasveer Kaur regularly skipped meals and could not afford to buy vegetables – her hemoglobin levels plummeting as a result, putting her into the ‘high risk’ category. She kickstarted a kitchen garden, eats more greens and today she brisk walks for 1 hour per day. And she has seen radical changes in her health.
The centre has become an integral part of the community, with regular street plays, sports events, and rallies to keep health at the top of mind of community members.
The Mehma Sawai Centre is just 1 of 2 ACF Health and Nutrition Centres in Bathinda, with plans to roll out 2 more in the coming year. And, if the minds, behaviour and health of rural Punjabi women can be changed, then anything is possible!