We Care For Everyone
Bright Star Charitable Trust's healthcare interventions among the marginalized communities of Western Mumbai aim to create awareness about the various contagious diseases and the risk factors that make this population vulnerable to them.
During our numerous interactions with the community, and most specifically with women, we learnt that the adults from these communities lose many productive days at work, and absenteeism among children at school was also high due to recurring health ailments. Diarrhoea, common cold, persistent cough were some of the most frequently quoted reasons for the loss in productivity. This led to loss of income among the adults while school going children lost precious days of education. Women’s health was found to be another cause of concern amongst this population. Menstrual hygiene was a taboo and hence its importance was never stressed. Women, the caregivers of the family, were the last to receive medical attention for any of their ailments.
The health issues of the families increased the financial burdens thus making them resort to informal loans which some of them found difficult to repay.
From the situation analysis we realized that most of the ailments cited by the community members were avoidable to a large extent. Observing simple hygiene practices, which were completely missing amongst the community, would help maintain better health and keep the ailments at bay. With this premise, we started the health and hygiene awareness camps in the slum areas of Western Mumbai where simple practices like washing and sanitizing hands before meals and after defecation were introduced to women and children. Healthy eating practices and know-how to prevent the spread of infections from person to person was also disseminated in these camps.
An area of concern that was least, or never talked about was that of women’s health, and most importantly about menstrual hygiene. Among women, the knowledge gap about menstrual hygiene management (MHM) was putting them at high risk of a number of health issues. The shame and apprehensions attached to menstruation made awareness and access to use of sanitary pads not just difficult, but almost impossible. Bright Star Charitable Trust realized that it was important to break this silence and create awareness towards healthy MHM practices.
In the past 5 years of operation, we have conducted more than 20+ awareness camps across various slums of Mumbai. With over 1500+ participants, we have been successful in creating awareness, and motivating women and children to adopt health and hygiene practices which were earlier non-existent. The uptake of MHM practices amongst women has also seen an increase amongst young girls and women. However, affordability is an issue amongst the target population and we are open to solving this issue through CSR partnerships or corporate sponsorship.
While we have been successful in creating awareness amongst these communities about major health issues and how to avoid them, we would be happy to collaborate with partner NGOs, healthcare providers, and corporate to make healthcare services more accessible and affordable for them.