Ara is expecting her second child

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20-year old Ara has just found out that she is pregnant with her second child. After marrying at 16, she gave birth to her daughter about one year later, and is now excited, but a little apprehensive, about the new addition to the family. To ensure the healthiest possible pregnancy, Ara has joined the prenatal care program at AIC.

Through this program, she comes to the clinic regularly for routine check-ups with the AIC doctor and receives all medical treatment and medication free of charge. In the event that she needs to see a doctor at the hospital, including at the time of delivery, she is accompanied by one of AIC’s trained health workers. Furthermore, she has the option of stopping by AIC’s Health Centre for mid-day meals and to receive nutritional supplementation to ensure that her baby will be born at a healthy birth weight.

Ara never had the opportunity to go to school as a child, and now that she is an adult, she  is rarely permitted outside of the house, as is the custom in her community. Her husband is supportive of her trips to the AIC Health Centre, however, and Ara enjoys the opportunity to leave the house, visit the doctor and health workers, and stop in for a meal with other expectant mothers from the nearby communities.

Ara benefits from the attendance incentives offered to the women as well – small toiletry and hygiene items like soap, baby toothbrushes, and baby lotion. On her family’s meager income, Ara would be unable to provide these items for her little ones without the support of the program. She feels excited about the information that she is learning and the opportunity to bond with other women. Through these classes, she knows that she is improving her children’s lives and futures.

Furthermore, because her husband earns only 3,000 rupees ($60) per month and would not be able to afford the necessary medical care for her, Ara is grateful to have so much support and care during her pregnancy.

Thank you for coming together to provide comprehensive antenatal care to Ara.


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Karen is excited to complete her family

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Karen is a 21-year-old mother of two, soon to be three! After marrying at 16, which is typical in Karen’s community, she moved in with her husband and his family. Karen has never been to school and is not literate, although her husband studied until 9th standard and now works as a part-time golf caddy at the golf course across the road from the slum where the family lives. He earns about 3,000 rupees ($50) per month, which is often not enough to fully cover the family’s expenses, particularly in the case of medical expenses, which can be unpredictable. For this reason, Karen was thrilled to learn that she was eligible to join the AIC Health and Community Outreach antenatal care program for the duration of her pregnancy. Through this program, Karen receives assistance with all of her routine pregnancy care (check-ups, testing and nutritional supplementation) as well as any unforeseen costs that may arise during the pregnancy or delivery. She also benefits from the guidance and support of one of AIC’s community health workers, who accompanies her to appointments and checks in to ensure that Karen is receiving proper nutrition and taking appropriate steps to promote the health of her unborn baby. Although Karen is a seasoned mother, she is grateful for the support and wisdom of the community health worker, and looks forward to completing her family with baby # Three !!

Thank you for your kindness. With your help Karen can now have a healthy pregnancy.

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Jyoti will help to educate other mothers

Thank you for enabling 25 year old Jyoti to attend a year of parenting classes.

Jyoti has two young children, her 2 year old daughter and her 8 month old son. Jyoti has been married for 3 years to her husband, who earns about 4,000 rupees ($80) a month. Jyoti, her husband and their two children live with her parents-in-law and their children.

Jyoti recently heard about a “Mother-Baby” class offered at an organization’s nearby Health and Community Outreach Center, and eagerly went to inquire about joining. Every other week, she brings her son for a class with other mothers with babies aged 0-12 months. At these classes, Jyoti and the other mothers participate in interactive discussions led by local specialists on a wide range of topics designed to improve their understanding of their children’s nutritional, developmental, health-related, emotional, social and family-related needs. The mothers and their children also engage in hands-on activities – practicing cooking cheap but nutritious foods to feed to their children, taking fieldtrips to the local government hospital for routine immunizations, etc – to further enhance their understanding of concepts.

In Jyoti’s slum community, superstition, misinformation and detrimental cultural practices (such as female feticide and denial of medical care/adequate nutrition to girl children) abound and can negatively influence the way parents raise their children. For this reason, it is even more valuable for Jyoti to be attending this class with her child, and she has already spread the word to several other mothers from her community who have also expressed an interest in joining.

Slowly but surely, by empowering Jyoti as a confident, capable mother, the entire community will begin to change.

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A healthy pregnancy for Geeta

Dear Maja, Scott, Hoss, Georgie, Adele, and Dara,

Thank you for coming together to provide comprehensive antenatal care to Geeta.

Geeta has recently found out that her family is going to be growing!  She and her husband have two young children, and are expecting their third.  Geeta immediately took the step of signing up for free, comprehensive antenatal care through the AIC Health and Community Outreach Program, which will provide complete supportive care and guidance for the duration of her pregnancy.  She comes for regular check-ups with the AIC doctor and receives all medical treatment and medication through AIC.  In the event that she needs to see a doctor at the hospital, including at the time of delivery, she is accompanied by one of AIC’s trained health workers.  She also has the option of dropping by the Outreach Centre for mid-day meals.

Geeta has been really benefiting from the antenatal care that she has been receiving and will continue to receive for the remainder of her pregnancy.  Her family situation is a bit stressful, as her husband has a medical condition that results in seizures, and they live with her husband’s family and six siblings-in-law.   Geeta’s husband earns 3,000 rupees ($60) per month as a caddy at a nearby golf course, which must provide for Kiran and their children, as well as contribute to overall extended family expenses.  The end result is that there is never enough to go around, and Geeta knows that she would never be able to afford access to such complete, high-quality medical care without the antenatal care program.

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A healthy pregnancy for Natasha!

Dear Keith, Todd, Valerie and Jerry, Candace, David, James, Jeffrey, and Jerame,

Natasha is only 20 years old but she just found out that she is pregnant with her fourth child. As is typical in her community, Natasha married her husband when she was only 12 years old, and now has three children ranging  from 18 months to 6 years. As neither she nor her husband have an education beyond the primary school level and the entire family relies on her husband’s meager earnings of 2,000 rupees ($45) per month as a part-time caddy at a nearby golf course, each additional child is becoming more difficult for the family to support.

Also, Natasha is finding each additional pregnancy (and at such a young age) increasingly difficult and tiring to handle, particularly with so many small children to care for as well. So, she hopes that she can convince her husband to allow her to undergo a tubal ligation operation after the birth of this child. In the meantime, to help her manage the stresses of another pregnancy, Natasha has turned to the antenatal care program at the AIC Health and Community Centre.

The antenatal care program will provide complete supportive care and guidance for the duration of her pregnancy, including regular check-ups with the AIC doctor and sponsorship of all medical treatment and medication through AIC. In the event that Natasha needs to see a doctor at the hospital, including at the time of delivery, she is accompanied by one of AIC’s trained health workers.

Finally, Natasha, like all of the pregnant women in the program, has the option of coming to the Centre for mid-day meals and nutritional supplementation if she is experiencing food insecurity at home. All of these services together will ensure thatNatasha’s fourth (and perhaps last) pregnancy is as normal as possible.

Thank you, Keith, Todd, Valerie and Jerry, Candace, David, James, Jeffrey, and Jerame, for coming together to provide comprehensive antenatal care to Natasha.

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Roshan’s escape from a stifling home environment

20 year old Roshan has recently joined a tailoring class at the AIC Health and Community Outreach Centre in the slum where she lives. Historically, education has been frowned upon in Roshan’s community, so she is excited to have the opportunity to learn new sewing skills as well as partake in daily literacy classes that are linked to the tailoring program. The tailoring classes are held for two hours every day (plus an hour for literacy learning) and Roshan always looks forward to attending, as she suffers from fertility problems and is under considerable scrutiny and pressure from her in-laws at home. The chance to escape to the Health and Community Outreach Centre for a few hours, where she has formed bonds with other young women in her community who can understand the challenges and stresses of marrying into a large extended family, is much welcomed.

Roshan is excited to complete the Basic Tailoring course and then progress to the Advanced Tailoring course, giving her a solid foundation in tailoring techniques. Many women who have completed the course have even been able to start their own small in-home tailoring businesses, and Roshan would like to be able to contribute to the household one day as well.

Thank you for your support of someone like Roshan through the Ashraya Initiative for Children!

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Lata’s chance to shine

As a child, Lata was not able to attend school past the 5th grade because of her community’s belief in the futility of educating girls. She is now 24, and has been married for three years to her husband, who sells cutlery door to door and earns about 300 rupees ($5) per day on a good day. She is also the proud mother of a two-year-old son, whom she dotes on day and night.

Lata has always yearned to continue her education and expand her horizons to be a good role model for her son and future children. She is hardworking and motivated, and recently sought out an opportunity to better her future at the AIC Health and Community Outreach Centre in the slums near her house. There, she attends daily 2 hour long Basic Tailoring classes, to gain a foundation in basic sewing skills. She is excited to continue on to the Advanced Tailoring class after completing the six-month-long Basic class, and hopes that she will be able to start taking orders for custom tailoring pieces from within the surrounding community once she has completed these classes and gained some practice. So far, Lata is doing very well in the class and her tailoring teacher believes that she will go far.

Lata also loves that there is a literacy component to the class, an additional one hour per day after the tailoring component. She further benefits from the meals that are available to her and her classmates at the AIC Centre. As the majority of women in India are anemic, healthy, fresh meals are a welcomed change for a woman like Lata.

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Sarita and Priyanka benefit from support

Dear James,

After Sarita’s husband suffered a tragic accident several years back, Sarita was not sure that they would have more children, and forced herself to focus on their one child, a boy named Harshad. Last year, however, Sarita was excited to find out that she was pregnant, and she is now the proud mother of a seven month old baby girl named Priyanka.

Shortly after the birth of her daughter, Sarita decided to sign up for parenting classes run through Ashraya Initiative for Children, an organization that works in her slum. Almost seven years had passed since the birth of her firstborn and she wanted to take advantage of this new opportunity.

Sarita is a very proactive woman and decided that she wanted to do the most that she could do raise her daughter well. In slum communities such as Sarita’s, misinformation, detrimental tribal traditions and superstition can easily interfere with providing a stable, healthy upbringing to her child. By attending these parenting classes, Sarita is learning about many aspects of infant and toddler care — nutrition and diet, health and hygiene, early childhood education and much more.

She enjoys the support of the other mothers, especially since she has found it difficult to rely on her husband to help with Priyanka since the accident left him with an impaired memory and mental heath issues. He is also unable to work, and Sarita would find it difficult to provide for her baby if she did not receive various clothes items and toiletries through the parenting class. Sarita wishes that she had been able to participate in a class like this when her son was a baby, but is thankful for the chance this time around with her daughter.

Thank you James, for providing a mother like Sarita with this invaluable support through the Ashraya Initiative for Children!

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Hard-working Sonal tries her best as a mother

Dear Akiko, Bindi, and Leo,

Sonal is the proud new mother of one month old Mayan! She already has a three year old daughter, Shikha, so she was excited about the birth of a boy to round out the family. Immediately after Mayan was born, Sonal signed up for parenting classes so that she could join other young mothers in her community to learn how to best meet Mayan’s needs.

The women and their babies attend classes every week where they learn the basics of infant and toddler care through an interactive combination of lectures, discussion, trips and hands-on activities (cooking projects, etc). The women have a chance to socialize and form a supportive network for each other based on shared experience, and the little ones benefit from a chance to interact and play with educational toys. Sonal especially appreciates the health care coverage that she and Mayan receive by attending the classes, as well as the token attendance “gifts” after every class (such as a bottle of baby shampoo, soap, powder or clothing items).

Sonal is an extremely smart, hard-working woman with the motivation to get ahead in life. She is committed to doing whatever she needs to do to provide for her children, and recognizes that this is the perfect opportunity to grow and improve as a parent so that Mayan and Shikha have the best chance of success possible. 

Thank you Akiko, Bindi, and Leo for giving a deserving mother the support she needs!

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Loss motivates Asha to be a good mother

Dear Kayla, Akiko, Amit, Tony, and Anil,

Asha is mother to three children, including one year old Kajal (picture here). Asha and Kajal have begun attending parenting classes run by the Ashraya Initiative for Children. These classes are known locally by the women as “Mother-Baby classes” because of the integrated nature of the gatherings, in which mothers learn the healthiest way of interacting with their little ones.

Asha’s husband, who earns about 4,000 rupees (about $70) per month doing electrical work, has been very supportive of his wife’s participation in these classes. He believes they help her to be a better, more attentive mother.

He and Asha still grieve for their oldest child, a daughter who died of meningeal tuberculosis a number of years ago. This experience has strengthened their resolve to be good parents and provide their children with opportunities in the future. At the Mother-Baby classes, Asha learns about the building blocks to ensure a bright future for Kajal and her other children — which foods comprise balanced meals, the importance of early childhood education, how to provide a safe, nurturing home environment, and many other fundamentals of baby and toddler care.

Thank you Kayla, Akiko, Amit, Tony, and Anil for helping Asha support her children through the Ashraya Initiative for Children!

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