Volunteer Speaks – 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.This concern is one of the primary reasons why the Foundation for Mother and Child Health (FMCH) organises and encourages women to increase their knowledge on good pregnancy practices to follow so that they will give birth to healthy babies and successfully nourish the growing infant.[/paragraph]fmch-blog-volunteer-speaks-01I never would have expected my life to lead me on a journey travelling through Asia, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean to learn about healing and healthcare practices across international and cultural barriers. These experiences of joining new communities, experiencing new cultures and learning from doctors and patients alike have truly been amazing![/paragraph]fmch-blog-volunteer-speaks-02

After graduating from college, I was awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to learn about unique community initiatives that help patients outside of the hospital. Fortunately for me, my time exploring maternal and newborn health in Mumbai led me to FMCH.[/paragraph]

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During my one-month internship with FMCH, I had the pleasure of observing and interacting with some of the most caring people I have ever met. At first I was a little hesitant of how I would be received, being a foreign man exploring a women’s health issue. This hesitation left as soon as I was welcomed by the FMCH team on my first day in office. From the CEO and COO to the clinical and field officers, I felt a genuine atmosphere of hospitality.

 

I started off in their main office and then divided my time between two centers in urban slums of the city. The first center is located in an area called Phule Nagar, Powai. In this area there is an estimated household number of 5,000 which equates to a population around 20,000 residents. Most of these residents have migrated from many areas across Maharashtra, Rajasthan and South India. Migration is a big issue because a majority of residents in slum communities don’t own anything, so they have to constantly move from community to community. The majority of the residents follow Hinduism and Buddhism religious practices and have on average 3 to 4 children. Most men find employment as carpenters, auto rickshaw drivers and daily wage earners while most women find employment as domestic workers or craft workers. During the week, FMCH conducts various clinics ranging from breastfeeding clinics to weighing clinics. Each clinic has a specific target audience and provides specialised information and services. The clinic I found most interesting was the 1000 Day Clinic which follows pregnant women and their child from conception to the age of 2 years old. With the devastating reality that poor nutrition during a child’s first 1000 days of life can cause irreversible damages with life-long consequences, FMCH works hard to provide ample support and education during this critical window of time.

 

The second center is located in an area called Ganesh Nagar, Dhobi Ghat. Similar to the first center, this area is populated with many migrants. It is estimated that the population is between 80,000 and 100,000 residents. Relatively speaking, the cost of living in these slum communities is high for residents which contributes to high rates of migration. One unique aspect of Dhobi Ghat is that it is a major washing/cleaning center of the city. Every morning on my way to the center I would pass hundreds of laundry items cleaned and hung to dry. One overarching issue of both communities was water availability. Running water is not available throughout the day and as a result of only coming on for certain hours, has led to poor sanitation and the use of open drains.

After observing and documenting the various activities of the clinics and pregnancy club, I noticed how much individual care and attention each mother and child is given. They are each seen by nutritionists, nurses, clinical officers and doctors. FMCH gives pre-natal supplements including calcium tablets, vitamin D pills and iron tablets. Instead of providing a nutritious meal to just one target beneficiary, they provide nutritional cooking demonstrations to the entire community to teach healthy, alternative food options on what to eat and how to compensate for lack of food choice availability.

Some challenges faced by FMCH include consistent attendance from beneficiaries because clinics are dependent on mother’s housework load and water availability. For example, if a mother’s designated time of running water is 3pm-4pm, she will have to cook and wash clothes and do things pertaining to the use of water at that time instead of going to the pregnancy club. Since water availability is granted at different times for the community this effects who can do what at which time.

One of the most interesting parts of interning at FMCH has been learning about some of the cultural myths associated with pregnancy. They include the notion that the baby’s position in the womb can tell you it’s sex or craving salty foods mean you’re having a boy while craving sweet foods mean you’re having a girl. I shared a really enlightening conversation with the Director of Project Poshan about how certain cultures reinforce myths and the challenges associated with educating and not isolating beneficiaries. FMCH is doing a great job debunking these myths.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff and beneficiaries of FMCH for providing me with a wonderful opportunity to witness the role FMCH plays in helping communities achieve ultimate healing here in Mumbai. I depart from FMCH confident that I am one step closer to learning innovative ways to help bridge the gap between healthcare providers and communities.

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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.

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.

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

Senior Manager
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

Associate
CNI I and II

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.

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. 

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.

Vishwa Patel

Senior Manager
Technology 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.