Gina writes:

This past Monday and Tuesday, I went to the field, to document work being done in 3 villages.

The two villages that we visited on Monday were Ganjeipadar and Kadamguda, both about 30 km from Koraput. Often, on these trips, the drive is just as great as the destination. Look at this winding road that we took!

Ganjeipadar is a larger village with about 170 households. It has no electricity and is 26km from the nearest hospital. In this village, SOVA is teaching the village health workers, pregnant women, and new mothers how to track their health status on a village map. The villagers change the stickers on the map whenever needed, and then the nurse that visits the village regularly can easily know where the pregnant women live, where the malnourished children live, etc. Also, the map is placed in a public location, so the community members can help each other remember things like immunization dates.

Here is a SOVA staff member explaining the map concept to the women.

While the discussion was going on, there were a few dozen kids walking in and out of the room. Partly because their mothers were sitting in the room, partly because it was around noon, the time when they receive their free supplementary rice from the village child center. Look at these two rascals eating their rice, the one on the left especially was such a ham!

The second village we visited on Monday was Kadamguda, a smaller village of about 40 households. A similar discussion with the women and the SOVA workers took place there.

One thing to note is that the vehicle couldn't make it all the way to the village, because the rains had left mounds in the road that the vehicle couldn't get over. So we had to walk about a half-mile. Which is generally fine, but I was SO sunburned from the trip to Deomali the day before, that my skin was just stinging to feel the sun on it. Ouch! In the first village, one man even asked the SOVA employee why my face was so red!

On Tuesday, I didn't think the village visit was going to happen, since 2 p.m. came and went without any sign of the SOVA employees that I was supposed to go with (and I've learned to just be patient and wait and not be surprised if plans change and no one tells me). We did end up going, though, leaving at 3:30 p.m.

Pitaguda is about 30 km away, another nice drive. The strategy in this village is more conventional, talking to the women's self-help group about the government-provided sterilization operation, contraceptive pills, and condoms. The 10 women then spread the message to their peers in the village. The work is nearly finished, since there have been quite a few meetings in the past year to help the women understand how to take proper care of themselves after having the "family planning operation" as they call it, how to properly take birth control pills, and dispelling myths regarding the medication.

Here is the meeting on Tuesday.

Before SOVA started talking to the women in the village, they would start working the day after their surgery or they would have sex just a few days after. I don't know the medical details, but a few of them got pregnant after having the operation and then the other women didn't want to have the surgery. A little knowledge went a long way in this village!