“My life would have been completely different without the timely and valuable guidance of Bandhan. Bandhan’s health volunteer and staff came into my life as angels and helped turn my fate around.”
Mousumi’s life is the testimony to the importance of self-awareness about health and one’s well-being. It is also the proof of how one can turn their lives around with the correct guidance and motivation. Mousumi’s father was a poor farmer, whose meagre earnings barely made two ends meet. Due to financial constraints and lack of guidance from her parents, she dropped out of school and her parents decided to get her married, in spite of her tender age of 14. It was during this time, that Sima Das, Health Community Organiser, from Bandhan’s Health programme identified her and recognised the need of the hour. Sima, along with a Swasthya Sahayika, Bappa Ghosh, started counselling Mousumi and her parents. They explained to them that untimely marriage would not only be incorrect for her future, but it is illegal, and it would also impose unwarranted health conditions on her. Through multiple household visits, they instilled in them, the criticality of recognising the different health hazards of early marriage as well as the legal aspect of marrying before attaining the right age. Even though there was initial hesitation, slowly and steadily through concerted efforts, they were successful in convincing her parents to postpone her wedding and enrol her back to school in class VIII, for completing her studies. This way they would not only be able to secure a formidable future for Mousumi, but they will also safeguard her health and well-being. Sima and Bappa also guided her parents about applying for Kanyashree scholarship from the government for Mousumi. This useful guidance would address the concern of lack of finances for her education. Over time, Mousumi and her mother’s engagement with the health forums began to increase. They attend the forums on a regular basis; they find it extremely informative since they gather knowledge about safe motherhood, family planning, menstrual hygiene management, child-care, child nutrition, water, sanitation, among other such topics. Owing to the health forums, both of them are now well versed with the importance of appropriate healthy practices. Health education imparted by Bandhan has had such a great impact on Mousumi that she hopes to study at least up to graduation, and thereafter get a job. She wants to ensure that her future is bright and wholesome.