Empowering Mothers In Gujarat

Published on August 16, 2023

In the village of Navapara Vaandh, the Devi Pujak Samaj adhered to a deep-rooted tradition that mandated new mothers to sleep on the ground in a makeshift shed for 1 ½ months after childbirth. They also forbade these women from touching kitchen utensils during this period. However, this practice posed grave risks, as the flimsy shelters exposed them and their newborns to insect bites and scorpion stings. Unsanitary conditions exacerbated the potential for health problems.

Upon learning of this situation, a determined project team resolved to make a change. With resolute goals in mind – spreading awareness, confronting entrenched norms, and advocating for better postpartum care – they began engaging various segments of the community.

Their efforts involved meetings with the Devi Pujak Samaj's women, new mothers, their families, and influential female leaders. At the heart of this transformative movement was Gomti ben, whose defiance of tradition by allowing her daughter-in-law to rest on a cot within their home ignited a spark of change. Gomti ben's powerful question – "If they can sleep on cots in the hospital, why can't they do the same at home?" – catalyzed the team's involvement.

Together, Gomti ben and the project team embarked on an educational campaign, stressing the importance of a healthy environment for postpartum mothers and infants. Gradually, their collective efforts bore fruit. The community's attitudes and practices shifted, leading to tangible improvements in post-delivery care. Once-unchallenged customs were reevaluated, and a safer, more comfortable environment emerged for new mothers.

The story of Navapara Vaandh serves as a beacon of inspiration, showcasing the potency of a determined group in challenging superstitions and driving positive change. With the unwavering project team as guiding lights and empowered women like Gomti ben at the forefront, the village transcended its traditional constraints. It evolved into a bastion of progress, prioritizing health and empowerment for all.