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Creating a Warm Chain of Support for breastfeeding mothers –  International Breastfeeding Week update

World Breastfeeding Week went with a bang and kept our team at toes. The 7 days of World Breastfeeding week (1 – 7 August) have been very focussed and in line with the International theme of “Breastfeeding: Foundation for life”. The FMCH team participated with great enthusiasm and made sure that they were able to reach maximum members of community through rallies, nukkad nataks, awareness sessions, support group meetings and various other field events. Their efforts reached in all to 3000 people.

Since the major decision-making power in Indian families is mostly limited in the hands of a husband in a nuclear family and with elders of the house in joint families. Several events focused on engaging with grandmothers and fathers and sensitize them for importance of breastfeeding for not only for mother and child but for society at large also. Fathers and Grandmothers shared that they had never thought how a breastfeeding child can break the cycle of poverty for family. The community organsier’s motivated fathers and grandmothers on how can they support breastfeeding mothers not only in family but in their neighbourhood and community also, thereby creating a warm chain of support for breastfeeding mothers. This was not only limited to fathers and grandmothers but also shared with support group mothers.

The efforts of team resulted in World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action recognizing efforts of FMCH and awarding us with certifications.

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A mystery box full of happiness

Pumpkin, peanuts, shepu (dill), ragi flour, finger millers, chana dal and coconut — these were the ingredients for a mystery box challenge, at Magazine Street Kitchen in Byculla on Thursday. And the contestants were women from vulnerable communities, selected and trained by NGO, Foundation for Mother and Children Health India (FMCH). This outreach event was held as part of the Australia Fest, and the special judge for the evening was Australian chef Gary Mehigan. The winning team prepared a meal with rice, dal, roti, a curry, and a pumpkin and rava sheera. A first for these women in a commercial kitchen, Mehigan provided constant encouragement to the women to ace the challenge.

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The Aussie food ambassador

MasterChef Australia judge, chef Gary Mehigan, is back in India to unravel the mystery behind some more local ingredients

He is known for putting people at ease immediately with his disarming smile and cheerful demeanour. And Gary Mehigan, TV host, restaurateur and chef, does just that at Mumbai’s Magazine Street Kitchen, at the MasterChef Australia-inspired Mystery Box Challenge curated by the NGO, Foundation for Mother and Child Health India (FMCH).

In India as ambassador for Australia Fest, he urges the contestants to “have fun and enjoy what they cook”.

But he had a second job to do as well. Armed with ingredients from Australia — like lemon myrtle, caper leaves and more — Gary was here to showcase the ‘Taste of Australia’. He gushed excitedly about it, “Australia boasts of so many unique ingredients which are intrinsic to the food, and we are attempting to display those through my cooking at the various Master classes, demonstrations and curated dinners, which I am conducting.”

Indian cuisine, according to him, similarly boasts of a lot of ingredients in each dish. “It is the inherent love for flavours and textures that defines Indian food. Australians too are similar, as they also enjoy variety and crunch in their food,” analyses Gary.

Fan of Indian cuisine and now the ‘tandoor’

Fascinated by India and Indian ingredients, Gary has been travelling to this country frequently since 2012. On each trip, he says, “I discover something new.” If it was winter foods like sarson ka saag , hara chana and ponkh that kept him immersed on his last trip, currently, he is enamoured by the flavours of thetandoor . He is even trying hard to put together one for himself back home in Australia, by watching YouTube videos, although he admits he is “not a DIY person”.

The kulcha, too, has caught his fancy. He relished a recent breakfast of kulcha s with chana and agrees that this combination is pure ecstasy. “Anything that goes into the tandoor is so delicious, with distinct flavours,” notes Gary.

Ingredients apart, some of the skills that chefs in India possess intrigue him. He elaborates, “Making a laccha paratha, or even piping jalebi batter into hot oil, is an art. It all looks so simple, but it isn’t.” While the chef in him has spurred him to learn how to fold the layers of the complex laccha paratha and get it right, the foodie in him loves to simply devour it with butter on top.

Mumbai is familiar and comforting

He reminisces about his first-ever visit to Sassoon Docks in Mumbai years ago, when he was awe-struck by the variety of seafood. “The supply chain in Mumbai has grown by leaps and bounds and it is heartening to see,” states Gary.

Given his fetish for Indian ingredients, one wonders if he travels back with a suitcase full to Australia. “I tried taking ker sangri from Rajasthan once, but was not allowed to do so, hence I have stopped. It is only a few spices, which I love, that I take back in small quantities. But yes, I take back lots of ideas,” quips Gary with a smile.

With multiple trips to India, especially Mumbai, he is getting increasingly comfortable and familiar with the city. “On my last trip I was living in Bandra like a local and was pleased when I could even direct the driver which way to go,” he chuckles.

Using his knowledge of Mumbai, Gary Mehigan is busy guiding his wife Mandy and 16-year-old daughter Jenna, who are here for the first time, on what to see and eat in the city.

“ Pani puri , samosa chaat , ras malai and boondi ladoo are what I have strongly recommended. And yes, they must go to the Gateway of India. The Delhi recommendations will follow, when we get there later this week,” Gary signs off with his famous grin.

He is trying hard to put together a tandoor for himself back home in Australia, by watching YouTube videos, although he admits he is “not a DIY person”.

Old as time

Damper, also known as bush bread, is an Australian aboriginal soda bread, traditionally baked over coals or flames.

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Chef Gary Mehigan on Indian ingredients

He is known for putting people at ease immediately with his disarming smile and cheerful demeanour. And Gary Mehigan, TV host, restaurateur and chef, does just that at Mumbai’s Magazine Street Kitchen, at the MasterChef Australia-inspired Mystery Box Challenge curated by the NGO, Foundation for Mother and Child Health India (FMCH).

In India as ambassador for Australia Fest, he urges the contestants to “have fun and enjoy what they cook”. But he also has a second job. Armed with ingredients from Australia — like lemon myrtle, caper leaves and more — Gary was here to showcase the ‘Taste of Australia’. He gushes, “Australia boasts of so many unique ingredients which are intrinsic to the food, and we are attempting to display those through my cooking at the various Master classes, demonstrations and curated dinners.”

Indian cuisine, according to him, similarly boasts of a lot of ingredients in each dish. “It is the inherent love for flavours and textures that defines Indian food. Australians too are similar, as they also enjoy variety and crunch in their food,” analyses Gary.

Fan of Indian cuisine

Fascinated by India and Indian ingredients, Gary has been travelling to this country frequently since 2012. On each trip, he says, “I discover something new.” If it was winter foods like sarson ka saaghara chana and ponkh that kept him immersed on his last trip, currently, he is enamoured by the flavours of the tandoor. He is trying to put together one for himself back home in Australia, by watching YouTube videos, although he admits he is “not a DIY person”.

The kulcha, too, has caught his fancy. He relished a recent breakfast of kulchas with chana and agrees that this combination is pure ecstasy. “Anything that goes into the tandoor is so delicious, with distinct flavours,” notes Gary.

Ingredients apart, some of the skills that chefs in India possess intrigue him. “Making a laccha paratha, or even piping jalebi batter into hot oil, is an art. It all looks so simple, but it isn’t.” While the chef in him has learnt how to get the layers and folds of the complex laccha paratha right, the foodie in him loves to simply devour it with butter on top.

Matter of familiarity

He reminisces about his first-ever visit to Sassoon Docks in Mumbai years ago, when he was awe-struck by the variety of seafood. “The supply chain in Mumbai has grown by leaps and bounds and it is heartening to see,” states Gary.

Given his fetish for Indian ingredients, one wonders if he travels back with a full suitcase. “I tried taking ker sangri from Rajasthan once, but was not allowed, hence I’ve stopped. It is only a few spices, which I love, that I take back in small quantities. But yes, I take back lots of ideas,” he quips.

With multiple trips to India, especially Mumbai, he is getting increasingly comfortable with the city. “On my last trip I was living in Bandra like a local and was pleased when I could direct the driver which way to go,” he chuckles. Now, Gary is guiding his wife Mandy and 16-year-old daughter Jenna, who are here for the first time, on what to see and eat.

Pani purisamosa chaatras malai and boondi ladoo. The Delhi recommendations will follow, when we get there later this week,” Gary signs off with his famous grin.

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Laying the seeds for healthy roots for a nourished tomorrow, Urban Nutrition Initiative Exits

The Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI) has been designed to ensure prevention and early detection of malnutrition in ten ‘high-burden’ urban locations of Maharashtra. Led by the Rajmata Jijau Nutrition Mission, this is an initiative implemented in partnership with NGOs and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme.This project aims at implementing ten essential nutrition interventions through the First 1000 Days’ approach as per WHO and UNICEF recommendations. FMCH has undertaken this initiative in order to achieve key organizational goes of sustainability and scale. The initiative provides an opportunity not only to reach an underserved population, but also, for FMCH to share its knowledge and approach with government workers in the hope that its best practices will be taken up by the government for long-term change. FMCH has been implementing the program in Nizampur area of Bhiwandi, Thane district catering 140 AWC’s for over three years. The key program activities includes Home visits, growth monitoring, Mata Melavas, nutrition demonstrations in nutrition course, Pregnancy club, mothers’ groups meetings, community events etc. The program has so far impaced the lives of 3689 children (0-2 years) and 2330 pregnant women and lactating mothers. Within the three years of UNI 106 mother support groups have been created.

Snapshot Of Urban Nutrition Initative

 

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Knowledge Transfer to Expand Reach and designing a sustainable business plan – An Update on FMCH training centre

The core activity of Training Centre is to provide comprehensive training solutions in addressing the training needs of partners on different aspects of nutrition. In past 7 months FMCH has partnered with various stakeholders – schools, corporates, NGO’s and government institutions. With this the centre has expanded its reach to 87689 and also been successful in generating a revenue of Rs 87500.

 

 

 

 

Training Centre has invested great efforts in designing and finalising the business plan for the upcoming years and making it self-sustainable by 2022 stating its future scalability to new states and strategies on its implementation, publicity, communication, revenue generation and financial needs.

During this quarter, training centre finalised, printed, and distributed the innovative and comprehensive Information Cards containing pictorial information about multiple benefits of different food items and different ways & tips of its usage. Also, the module on ‘Nutrition during Tuberculosis’ has been finalised with technical support of a paediatrician and a nutritionist and ready to be rolled out in FMCH intervention areas.

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“These superheroes are gearing up for another quest…“ Jhari Mari Phase 2 begun!

It’s beginning of another week and Saba, Sarita Gupta, Reshma and Sarita Powar (four community organisers) are walking in the slums of Jhari Mari (urban slum of Kurla) door to door and calling the mothers from their areas for a regular check-up for the children. People are greeting them on their way. Some women are promising them to join while some women are just ready waiting to come along with them. There are few women and family members who need a little more push and these four are not letting any stone unturned to convince them and move from their door when they give a nod. Meanwhile Pragya and Shweta are setting up the clinic and waiting for the children to come in. As the women enter, the routine check-up starts – The anthropometric measurements followed by nutritional counselling and medicines in case of any health concern. The children are playing around and community organisers are engaging them while mothers are being counselled by Pragnaya and Shweta. A similar routine follows for other activities like pregnancy club, accha bacha class and nutrition course at the Kurla Centre of FMCH. Sarita shares “I feel that everyday going in the community and giving them a reminder that they have to attend their class or clinic is very important to our project’s impact. It makes that personal contact stronger and beneficiaries feel that we are with them and not just mere delivering services through our centre” But, things were not like this before. FMCH had partner with ICDS and WIPRO in 2017 to specifically work with 24 Anganwadi Centres reporting high incidence of child malnutrition. For phase 1 it was decided to roll out the program on 8 Anganwadi centres. 

The program aims to prevent chronic malnutrition among children in the First 1000 Days in a community setting through nutrition-specific interventions on the 24 Anganwadi Centres of Jhari Mari. 

 

Jhari Mari has been known for few challenges. The baseline survey revealed the reliance of community women on processed foods and tea as breakfast options for children. Majority children consumed tea twice daily. Also delayed health seeking behaviour during antenatal period of women was witnessed. Community had a strong resistance for tetanus immunization during pregnancy which they believed to cause infertility. Further the community becomes waterlogged in monsoons. These were critical hurdles that would come in successful rolling out of project. 

Also, FMCH believes in designing sustainable interventions/ solutions as in long-term the community is self-sufficient to carry forward the key learnings of the intervention. Thus, to address the challenges of the community and ensure sustainability it was then decided that the project team should emerge from community. Faces that community already relates to and ones who are aware of the current attitudes and practices of Jhari Mari. This led to formation of this core team of community women. Together they have been working since 2017 and have not only helped FMCH to leave an impact in community but also bring a change in their outlook and feel empowered within. Saba shares “since we stay here, people know us and this has really helped us. People opened their doors for us and accepted what we had to share them. The most interesting part is when we counsel them for myths and certain behaviours to avoid. They first react and show their resistance but when we rationale them; they accept our information and practice that. They cme back and share with us that how it has helped their kids. It is a great feeling”

The team has left a lasting impact.

  • reaching out to 2195 families (under 8 anganwadi centres) and
  • registered around 300 + children and 60 pregnant mothers. During this period FMCH conducted
  • anaemia testing of 122 children and around 60 pregnant mothers
  • The beneficiaries were provided with nutrition counselling on iron rich foods and further referrals to primary health center’s and hospitals.
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Volunteer Speak: Xzavier

If a child does not receive proper nutrition during the first 1000 days of existence, beginning from conception to the age of 2 years old, he or she will not reach their full physical or intellectual potential and is at risk of malnutrition.

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Dorothy Wagle

Hear our Advisor and (former) Chair of the erstwhile FMCH Managing Committee speak about her journey with the organisation and how she sees us today.

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