Dalit Freedom Network Canada

Community Health Worker

Providing quality healthcare at our Good Shepherd Schools

You can provide a community healthcare worker at a Dalit school for $585 per month or $7,000 per year.

Healthcare workers are needed in all our schools; at present they are at 31 schools. The healthcare workers are an important part of DFN's health initiative, as they care for and educate both the students and the surrounding community. The health care workers' tasks include issuing physical check-ups, offering de-worming treatment, encouraging immunization, and providing nutrition and hygiene education.

Our healthcare workers, both men and women, are given extensive training in community health.  This includes proper nutrition, importance of clean drinking water, personal hygiene, family planning, prevention and treatment of common illnesses, sexual health, and AIDS prevention. They play a critical role in rural Dalit communities, as they often work in areas with no other available health care.

Journal of a Healthcare Worker

"This past month I would like to report on the activities and health concerns of my school and village.
- Children sick this month: 18
- Children who required medical treatment by a doctor: 2
- All children in this school have received their vaccinations
- I visited the homes of a number of sick school children who were ill with measles, mumps and chickenpox and gave advice to their parents
- This past month the weather was so hot that the people suffered many illnesses; I tried to give guidance to prevent dehydration
- I also helped deliver two babies in the village"


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    Story of a Health Worker

    Jyothi is the Community Health Worker at a Good Shepherd School in central India. In the past year, she has had a tremendous impact on the lives of students and villagers alike. Jyothi spends two days a week at the school, teaching classes on health and hygiene. She assists with period medical camps, where children are weighed, measured, and treated for a range of conditions.

    Jyothi spends her other three days traveling to the neighbouring villages and slums, where she teaches the residents preventive measures to avoid common diseases and provides basic medical care. In partticular, she encourages pregnant women to seek prenatal care, teaches them about nutrition, and distributes iron tablets to counter anemia. She also teaches new mothers about safe care of newborns and follows up to make sure they are getting their babies immunized.

    Beyond medical assistance, Jyothi provides hope and support. Recently, she was of great help to a woman whose husband died twenty days after the birth of their third child. Jyothi spent time with the mother and counseled her and encouraged her. The mother is doing much better now and is able to work in order to support her family.

    Health Workers like Jyothi are working in our schools across India, providing Dalits with dignified treatment and life-saving education. DFN continues to work towards the goal of seeing a Health Worker in all 107 Good Shepherd Schools.

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    Soy Milk

    A soy milk project has begun at several of our Good Shepherd Schools to provide extra nourishment to the children. Soy bean milk contains the same amount of protein as what is found in cow milk; it is a healthy drink given to the students who are physically weak and lacking nutrition. Many times students come to school without breakfast and it is not unusual for students to faint during the morning assembly. Around 400 students are being given 250ml of this milk five days a week. We can already notice the increase of energy, and overall health. The teachers mentioned that they even notice the students growing in height.

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    Community Health Workers

    Many of the Good Shepherd Schools have a community health worker who cares for the health needs of the students and the community at large. We now have over 60 health workers spread across India.

    These healthcare workers examine and educate the community on the many health matters, including the following:

    - Pregnancy
    - Fever
    - Cough
    - Cuts & bruises
    - Children's monthly vaccinations
    - Mosquito-borne diseases
    - Healthy diet
    - Medicines
    - Vitamins
    - Mental challenges

    The health workers are having a tremendous impact on the villages where they work. While Dalits are often discriminated against in public clinics and hospitals, the GSS health workers visit people in their homes, thereby ensuring equal access to medicine and treatment. It is our hope to have a health worker at each of our schools; please consider giving to this Project in order to help make this dream a reality. 

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    World AIDS Day

    In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Good Shepherd Schools and Clinics all around India held rallies, marches, and programs to bring awareness to their communities. The diagnosis of HIV/AIDS often bring with it fear and discrimination, and many people do not understand how the virus is contracted or spread. The Good Shepherd teams joined with local officials and families to bring information and hope to surrounding villages. Students made posters with slogans such as “Stop HIV/AIDS, Save the World” and “Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise” in local dialects. Not only did villagers learn more about AIDS, many also heard about the Good Shepherd Schools and Clinics for the first time. At one school, the evening program was closed with the lighting of candles to signify the light of hope. As the students are educated about healthcare, this knowledge spreads to the entire community. This is just one more way that the schools become a symbol of hope and freedom.

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    Health Classes at VLK

    In addition to monitoring the health of the students and villagers, VLK’s health care worker teaches Health and Nutrition classes to the older students. She focuses on teaching the children good habits, such as bathing daily, wearing sandals at all times, and combing their hair. She also teaches them basic nutrition principles such as eating fruits and vegetables. The students learn and practice keeping their classrooms clean, as well as their homes. They also learn how to dispose of garbage properly and drain stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. This class is having significant impact on the students at VLK, allowing them to be healthier and more productive. We hope to one day see this kind of teaching in all our DFN schools. 

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    Your Story

    This month, in lieu of writing a Project update we are inviting you to share your thoughts, opinions, and stories. We are asking you to write a comment on this page telling us and other readers why you support this particular project. What is it about health care workers that interests you? What made you decide to get involved?

    The staff of DFN Canada truly believes that you are as much a part of what is happening in India as we are. We are very thankful to have you as part of the team.

    Let us know why this cause caught your attention!

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    VLK's Health Care Worker

    VLK School in South India is privileged to have a health care worker. The young woman divides her time between the school and surrounding villages, bring knowledge and free medication with her everywhere she works. She is already having a significant impact on the health of the students, as she is distributing daily vitamins and supplements. Since starting at the school in 2008 she has attended two intensive training sessions, in addition to her initial health education; this ensures that she is providing the best possible care to the community. Many schools are not yet as fortunate as VLK and are still awaiting funding for a health care worker. Please consider supporting this project. 

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    Education Leads to More

    RSP school has been educating slum children for fifteen years and has developed a very good reputation in the community. Parents are thrilled with the high standard of education their children are receiving, as well as with the love and care displayed by the staff. Because of this long-term relationship between school and slum, when RSP’s health care worker first arrived at the school last year she was graciously received. She earned the community’s respect simply by being part of a staff the residents already trusted. Now the health care worker is able to visit patients at home, conduct public health information programs, and take people to hospital whenever needed. RSP’s commitment to improving the lives of their students through education has led to the possibility of reaching the larger community through health care. This is just one example of DFN’s vision being lived out: transforming entire communities, starting with a school. 

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    New Health Care Worker at KKL

    KKL now has a health care worker! She started her job at the school on March 9, fresh from the February training. She is a local woman who the school manager met and sent for training; this is a huge asset, as she is already familiar with the local community, language, and culture. Because of this she will be very helpful not only in the school, but in all the surrounding villages she visits. She will be bringing the same unique health care approach as the other school healthcare workers to the community of KKL: visiting families in their homes, providing free medications, treating the students, distributing vitamins, and much more. She is now one more of the hundreds of incredible DFN staff bringing transformation and hope to the remote corners of India. 

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