A local community center at Kanmari village is the site of today's clinic. After explaining how to take the multivitamins to a pregnant woman, Apu tells us, "The multivitamins are a boon for pregnant women. Since their access to nutritious food is very limited, the multivitamins help them remain healthy during pregnancy."
With a degree in History, Apu joined SHIS by chance. "It was on the job that I learned how to collect blood for tests, how to use an X-Ray machine, about WaSH and counseling pregnant women and new mothers on health and nutrition amongst other things."
While the job started as a means to an end for Apu, after seeing how she has been able to help her community, it became a way of life. "In the last 17 years, I've realized that you need to go the distance if you want to make a difference. You have to understand the community's fears, accept their beliefs, and that's when they begin to trust you and let you in. I tell them that it is okay if you follow your customs, but it is equally important to get your children vaccinated and make sure they receive supplements."
On our last evening, Apu invites us to her house back in Sandeshkhali. Her chatty three-year-old niece welcomes us at the door! We can see how happy Apu's family is to meet her colleagues. Even though we speak different languages (Bangla and Hindi, respectively), we can sense the pride Apu's family feels about her work. Over hot cups of coffee and samosas, Apu tells us how she has seen a considerable shift in the community's attitude towards health. "People know the importance of vaccinations, vitamin supplements, and deworming. Now, there is nothing that gives me more joy than interacting with the communities we serve on a weekly basis. They are like a second family, and nothing makes me happier than seeing them healthy."