Volunteer Speaks – Priyanka Athavale

In Mumbai, waking up to the sweltering Mumbai heat and sound of pigeons chirping and religious bells in a local temple was a familiar morning for many. As a brief visitor, for just 9 months, I quickly became accustomed to taking the local trains to and from Mahalaxmi, where I was working closely with the FMCH team.

I looked forward to greeting my colleagues at FMCH, in their Dhobi Ghat office. The team’s hard work, enthusiasm, and commitment to the communities they work in intermingled with bouts of jokes, laughter and great food formed some of my most cherished memories as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar with FMCH (from August 2015 to May 2016). As a fresh graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, I was very excited to continue working with FMCH in Mumbai and deeply explore some issues that the FMCH team was already commenting on regarding maternal and child health in the vulnerable populations and environments they work in.

Starting my work with FMCH was almost like a homecoming– as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, I spent summers and winters coordinating an oral health camp with the FMCH team as part of a research and service project I was involved with. Immediately, I was awestruck and impressed with the way the team conducted its clinics, the immense amount of data the team collected, and how they used consistent impact evaluation and reflection to grow and improve their current programs.

When I returned to Mumbai in August 2015, as a Fulbright student scholar, I aimed to better understand and get closer to answering one simple question: what are the challenges that exist when an individual tries to translate “acquired knowledge” into “practice”. In the context of public health, I was curious to learn about how women who receive knowledge, counseling, and guidance at FMCH clinics are able to effectively (or not as effectively) implement these practices in their home environment. What are some key barriers that limit some women’s experiences? What are critical motivators that facilitate and enable women to succeed in caring for their own health or their child’s health? My ultimate goal was to better understand to reduce the gap between knowledge and practice, and provide concrete recommendations to FMCH to capitalize on evidence-based facilitators in the community.

Doing this work would not have been possible without the daily support from the FMCH team members. My research method involved qualitative interviews with mothers who were FMCH beneficiaries. These mothers regularly received counseling from nurses, health workers, pediatricians and dietitians from FMCH. They were the recipients of knowledge, and I wanted to learn about how they utilized these tools at home. I was impressed that FMCH recorded all of its data on tablets– the organization is very technologically advanced and savvy for its sector and this definitely improves the quality of care that women and children receive. The online, cloud-based database allowed me to directly assess and track which women were receiving care, their duration of care, and review their diet recalls and children’s height/weight patterns accordingly. I was also extremely inspired by how holistic the FMCH programs are. Women not only received counseling in weekly clinics but also had the opportunity to attend cooking demos (where they learned how to cook quick, easy, and healthy recipes), pregnancy club (where pregnant women received prenatal support and information) and breastfeeding clinic (where women received specialized care on breastfeeding practices and techniques). With all these resources available, I was thrilled and honored to be part of such a dynamic and thorough program that FMCH executes for these women.

Upon conducting interviews with mothers and some mother-in-laws, I developed a deeper sense of the mothers’ lived experiences in carrying out the knowledge and techniques they learned at FMCH. Many of the challenges were rooted in lack of time, support, and confidence in carrying out activities consistently. Others were based on cultural beliefs, family dynamics, and perceived self-confidence of the mother. I worked with the FMCH team, thereafter, to strategize on how to improve current operations to circumvent the barriers several mothers face in their community.

I walked away from my nine-month experience learning a great deal about my specific research interest, gaining tangible skills, and appreciating the wide range of work an organization like FMCH has to complete in order to produce high-quality outcomes for their beneficiaries. I witnessed the hard work each employee devotes to their position and the teamwork necessary to overcome challenges along the way. I was fascinated by the iterative and forward-thinking approach of the team– it is evident that FMCH is changing the dialogue about children’s nutrition and maternal health in Mumbai because of its in-depth and multi-dimensional programs.I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them! The memories I’ve formed with the fun-loving team are ones I will carry with me throughout my career in public health and more. If you would like to learn more about my research with FMCH, please contact me at priyanka_a@berkeley.edu

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ANCHAL M JAIN

Associate
Partnerships and Training

Anchal comes with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from SRIHER, Chennai.  She is passionate about  educating people on the importance of sustainable food habits in both urban and rural areas. She believes a healthier lifestyle is not about restriction and calories, it’s about choices and diversity.

Durgesh Sharma

Associate
Project Poshan

Durgesh has recently completed Gandhi Fellowship program in Piramal Foundation. For 2 years, he worked in the Education and Health system of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan around Leadership Development and policy advocacy. He is also a Taekwondo player passionate about travelling, and music.

SHRUTHI IYER

CEO
Project Poshan And Wadia Hospital

Shruthi, an engineer from VTU has been an independent consultant in the development space – focusing on strategy, fundraising and business development. Prior to FMCH, she was the Executive Director at Mentor Me India, a Mumbai-based NGO. She has 10 years of experience working with organizations such as Infosys, Hippocampus, Teach for Bangladesh, Masoom and Sukhibhava. She is a Teach for India and Acumen Fellow.

Poonam Kashyap

Director of Operations
FMCH India

Major Poonam, an alumnus of AFMC, Pune is a graduate in Nursing, a double post graduate in Applied Psychology, and MSW (Livelihoods and Social Entrepreneurship) from TISS, Mumbai. The founder of LetshareIndia Foundation, an AI-based Donation platform is a retired Indian Army officer, with more than 10 years of work experience. She has worked with many NGOs and research organizations as a Project Lead.

Jesmina M Sangma

Operations Lead
FMCH India

Jesmina, with her Masters in Social Work from Dibrugarh University, Assam is passionate about working in the social sector. She previously worked as Senior Associate-Recruitment & Operations in Mentor Me India, handling 360-degree recruitment and operations. She also worked as a Program Manager with Apne Aap Women’s Collective, on a project for adolescent girls.

Shubhangi Bhoite

Manager
Project Poshan And Wadia Hospital

Shubhangi, with a background in social work, brings 8 years of experience in addressing maternal and newborn health. At FMCH, she specifically focuses on the issue of malnutrition and working with SAM and MAM children.

Sharad Thakare

Manager
Community Nutrition Initiative

Sharad, with a Masters Degree in social work, brings over 13 years of experience in child rights, education, health and nutrition. At FMCH, he focuses on  supervising programme implementation, reporting, organising training and large scale community events.

Preethi Mutta

Manager
Community Nutrition Initiative II

Preethi, with a Masters in Social Work from Mangalore University, brings over 13 years of working experience in the development sector managing Adolescents Education, Sexual and Reproductive health, Maternal and Child health care programmes.

Bhagyada

Manager
Partnerships and Training Vertical

Bhagyada, with her Masters degree in Food Science and Nutrition from SNDT Women’s University, brings 3 years of experience working on health in the development sector in both urban and rural areas. She has previously worked with the Fight Hunger Foundation Organization.

Amar Yadav

Manager
Finance

Amar is a B.Com graduate who has also completed Government Diploma in Cooperation and Accountancy (GDCA). Currently pursuing Inter CA & Final CS, he brings 6 years of experience working with CA firms in Accounting & Audits. He has also worked as a college teacher in accounts & taxation.

Sarah Khokhawala

Associate
Project Poshan and Partnerships and Training Vertical

Sarah, with her Masters in Food Science and Nutrition from SNDT Women’s University, Juhu, Mumbai is an intern turned employee. She is keen on exploring and learning about various roles in health and nutrition in the development sector.

Komal Kamble

Program Associate
Partnerships and Trainings

Komal, with her Masters in Social Work has also completed a short-term course from NN College in Laws and social work. She brings work experience in Children and Institutions and a nuanced understanding about rural and urban setup work.

Asma Khan

Associate
Project Poshan And Wadia Intervention

Asma is a high school graduate who is currently pursuing further studies. She discovered FMCH during an orientation session at Dhobi Ghat and wanted to join the team in 2017. She finally got an opportunity to work for Project Poshan at Kurla-Jarimari a year later.

Laxmi Nair

Consultant
Director of Technology and Impact

Laxmi, an engineer turned educator is a Tech Consultant at FMCH. She’s a Teach For India Fellow, with over a decade of experience in education. She was an Associate Director at 321 Education Foundation; handling the Program Design and Training Function to improve foundational literacy for children. 

Vishwa Patel

Senior Manager
Program and Impact

With her B. Tech in computer engineering, Vishwa worked for 4 years as a software engineer in IT, mainly at TCS and Accenture. To contribute in the social sector, he switched his career and joined Antarang Foundation  after YIF. Having a keen interest in history, mythology, art, and literature – he works at FMCH for using his skills for society and contentment.

Dorothy Wagle

Chairperson
Managing Commitee

Dorothy Wagle has had a long career in product development and manufacturing in both the USA and India. During early retirement, Dottie was able to fulfil her life-long ambition to work with an NGO. Starting with Salaam Baalak for street children in Mumbai, she then moved to FMCH and served as Chairperson of the Managing Committee for over 6 years. She’s currently the Executive Board Chairperson.

Iram Ansari

Program Associate
Community Nutrition Initiative II

With a Bachelors in Commerce, Iram Ansari was a Field Officer with FMCH for seven years before joining us as Program Associate for Community Nutrition Initiative-II, Bhiwandi. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work from IGNOU and is working towards creating a positive impact on society.

Dr. Rajeev V. Punjabi

Board Member
FMCH India

Advanced Endoscopic Gynaecologist & Obstetrician – Consultant at Hinduja Healthcare Hospital Khar, Mumbai & Partner – Tulip Women’s Healthcare Centre, Khar (W), Mumbai. He is the Pioneer of Waterbirth in India and has expertise in the field of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Advanced Laparoscopy for Women. He has a special interest in Maternal and Child health Programmes and Pregnancy Nutrition.

Geetanjali Jha Chakraborty

Board Member
FMCH India

Geetanjali has been associated with the non-profit sector through her various roles at Concern India, Childline and Armman. At present, she is the Co-Founder and Senior Director of Centre for Social & Behaviour Change Communication. She joined the FMCH Board to guide the team with her expertise in maternal and child health and behaviour change.

Khushnuma Ferzandi

Board Member
FMCH India

Khushnuma Ferzandi has been an active member of the American School of Bombay (ASB) for the past 23 years. Her current role at ASB is Head of Internal Partnerships and Events. Her primary role as part of the school’s Advancement Team is to expand and align ASB’s social and community initiatives with the intent to boost morale and build a stronger and deeper sense of community with all of ASB’s stakeholders.

Lakhan Jain

Board Member
FMCH India

Lakhan Jain has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, FCA and he is a practicing Chartered Accountant. He has been associated with FMCH since 2008. In 2013, he joined the Board of Trustees.  Being a Treasurer and Trustee, he looks after the financials and taxation part of the organisation.

Mohit Shukla

Board Member
FMCH India

With over 20 years of work experience, Mohit is a Managing Director, and Head of Legal & Compliance for India at Barclays. He’s responsible for the general oversight of legal and compliance services to all the Indian businesses and Barclays entities, and for general legal and compliance risk management in India. Previously, he was with Citibank for 9 years as Citi’s Country General Counsel for South Asia, covering India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal for all of Citi’s commercial businesses.

Prasad Baji

Board Member
FMCH India

An alumnus of IIT (Mumbai) and IIM (Calcutta). With over 22 years of work experience at corporates such as JSW, Edelweiss & ICICI –  he’s equipped with corporate & investment banking, business planning & evaluation, financial analysis/budgeting and project finance skills. In July 2018, he transitioned to the social sector as an Advisor and Philanthropist to Non Profits. He’s a founding member of IITians for Influencing India’s Transformation.

Ratan Kapadia

Board Member
FMCH India

With over 35 years experience as a Practising Company Secretary, Ratan handled Company Law and Secretarial matters of public listed Companies, Pvt Companies Section 8 Companies, Public and Private Trusts. He represented Companies for Company Law, FEMA, SEBI, Stock Exchanges collaborations, liquidation and closure of Companies, Amalgamations etc. Also provided advisory services to the Board of a public Limited Company in Strategy, Public Relations. HRD etc.

Sheila Malaney

Board Member
FMCH India

Sheila Malaney has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delhi. She is the retired Chairperson of Vulcan Engineering. Sheila serves on various Boards in both the Profit and Non-Profit sectors. Sheila is the longest serving Board Member of FMCH.

Sunita Agarwal

Board Member
FMCH India

Sunita Agarwal lived in Bangkok for 28 years and moved to India in 2016. With a Bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, she persevered her passion for nurturing young talent by teaching in different international schools in Bangkok and Mumbai. Her over 20 years of experience has firmly reinforced her belief that education is about developing responsible citizens who will be successful by being effective, passionate, creative and critical learners.

CHANDRIKA RAO

Director
Program and Impact

Chandrika has been a development sector professional for the past 20 years. With a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and has grassroots-level experience in working with children and women, programme design, implementation and evaluation with a special focus on life skills, education and advocacy. In the past, Chandrika has worked with organisations such as Sahayog Foundation, Apnalaya and Magic Bus in various leadership roles. She also has experience in content creation and curriculum development for training, life skills and e-learning. A writer, passionate about collaboration and creating collective impact, Chandrika is an aspiring improv artist and has a channel on YouTube.

Pradnya Mandavkar

Program Associate
Project Poshan

Pradnya comes with a background in Master’s in Food Science and Nutrition from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. She had previously worked as a Nutritionist with FMCH in 2017 and has rejoined us after her Masters. She also worked in a Health company as a nutritionist. Her interest lies in Community Nutrition and she is devoted to work towards making India malnutrition free.

ANIMISH JOSHI

Program Associate
Community Nutrition Initiative I

Animish is a graduate in Food Processing Technology from Pune University and post-graduate from Symbiosis International University in Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialization in Public Health Nutrition. Born and brought up in Pune, he is a devoted public health nutritionist with a mission to contribute in tackling nutrition-related issues in society and bring a positive change in people’s lives.

PURVA BAHADKAR

Program Associate
Community Nutrition Initiative II

With a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition and a masters degree in Public Health Nutrition, Purva Bahadkar is the founder of a successfully running small business called GrabHealthy, which provides a variety of healthy snacks that track the calories you consume. In the past, Purva has worked as a community nutritionist in Udaan Welfare Foundation, Thane  – she planned and handled their ‘Project Annapurna’, which provided support to the community to fight against malnutrition. Purva calls herself a captivating communicator and her goal is to inspire each and every individual of India to eat and live well.

Shahajahan Ansari

Program Associate
Community Nutrition Initiative I

With a Bachelors in Commerce, Shahajahan Ansari was a Field Officer with FMCH for 5 years before joining us as Program Associate for Community Nutrition Initiative-I, Bhiwandi. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work from IGNOU and is working towards making India malnutrition free.

SHRUTHI IYER

CEO
FMCH India

Shruthi, an engineer from VTU has been an independent consultant in the development space – focusing on strategy, fundraising and business development. Prior to FMCH, she was the Executive Director at Mentor Me India, a Mumbai-based NGO. She has 10 years of experience working with organizations such as Infosys, Hippocampus, Teach for Bangladesh, Masoom and Sukhibhava. She is a Teach for India and Acumen Fellow.