Gokorno, just another village of Bangladesh. Not far from the meddling crowd of Dhaka city, yet lush with green and laced with calm and quietness. Breaking the silence, when our shallow-engine-driven boat approached the village, a group of joyous boys and girls greeted us as if we knew each other for so long!
A short walk took us to our destination- the “Haridashi Women Care and Child Nutrition Center (HWCCNC)”, a small one storied building, brightly colored and conveniently situated at the outskirt of the village. We saw a swarm of village “mothers”, with their babies in lap, flocked around the house, waiting eagerly to greet the person whose selfless dedication gave birth to this benevolent center. Widely admired Mrs. Marufi Khan, a teacher in profession and a philanthropist in avocation, is the pioneer of this center. Through her dedication and effort, HWCCNC has become a symbol of hope to the expecting mothers and little children of Gokorno village. Each week a registered MBBS doctor holds office at this center and takes care of the health issues of the villager. This has become an immense help to the villagers. It has also saved them from a hectic and long journey to the medical office at the “Sadar” during their time of need, also saved them a lots of hard-earned cash. The center also runs a “Feeding Program” for mal-nourished children and financially distressed expecting mothers.
It was the “Feeding Day” when we visited the center. Since the same room is used for the clinic and the feeding program as well, a cleaner first cleaned the room with antiseptic, a sense of hygiene very seldom observed in rural areas. After that all the participating children were lead into the room and seated neatly around. A glass of warm milk was handed over to each child. After a short prayer, thanking God and the people whose generous donations provided this, children gulped the milk with complete satisfaction. It was really a sight – full of pleasure and lined with little bit of sadness! Soon after that, the second program started where another group of children and expecting mothers were invited into the room. This time they were given “Khichuri”- a delicious and nutritious hodgepodge of rice and lentil. All the foods are locally prepared by a paid cook.
The health services that is provided through the clinic, is not completely free. All local members are required to pay a monthly fee of 10 Taka to avail the services. For each visit, a co-payment of 5 Taka is charged. For outside people, the fee is little more (20 Taka monthly fee and 10 Taka co-payment). A fixed number of health cards are distributed for this purpose. Even though this scanty revenue is not going to offset the cost of running the center, but this is giving a sense to the villagers that they are paying for the services. This alleviated their dignity by transforming them to “consumer”.
On our way back, even a bigger group of kids were waiting at the river mouth, waiving there hands to the visitors. We knew our donor’s money is at work here. May be someday these kids would grow up healthy, touched by this little project of SpaandanB. A little help could really go far and make a big difference!