Grateful for Life-Saving Education 

Bicyclist rides the streets of KolkataIn 2004, Freedom from Hunger formed partnerships with several organizations to bring its services to India where approximately 300 million people live below the poverty line. While most people think of India’s poverty as primarily urban, the true extent of hunger and malnutrition can only be seen in rural areas where poverty is deeper, health services are lacking and financial services for the poor are rare.

One of our first priorities was to bring education on the topic of malaria to rural villages where women gather in self-help groups to borrow money for their home-based businesses and deposit savings to meet emergencies or achieve goals. This education has been delivered in the form of Learning Conversations, a collection of lively discussions on critical topics that build knowledge and encourage action for change.

Srimati Krisku lives with her husband and young daughter, Priya, in a rural village north of Kolkata (the city formerly known as Calcutta). In April of 2006, Srimati and other women in her group came together to tell us about the impact malaria education has had on their lives. "There is an awakening for us, she said.  “We never knew how malaria works.  The program taught us a lot and we are grateful.”

Even though she has been with her group for just over a year, Srimati has already seen many changes in her life. “Now there are no problems in the house to manage, because of our self-help group,” she said.  “The group comes to help if I cannot work in the field. We build houses together. If there is a wedding, everyone helps. We can solve our problems peacefully.”

 Srimati and other ladies from her Credit with Education group show us her Insecticide Treated Bed NetWhen Srimati is not working in the field with her husband, she buys and then sells vegetables at her village market. She has saved enough money to purchase a goat. However, she is pleased to say she is even prouder of another purchase she recently made: a bed net. The Learning Conversations taught her to treat the net with insecticide to protect her family from malaria.

Malaria is widespread in rural areas such as Srimati’s village. In one nearby village, 40 people died of malaria in less than a year.  “I use the mosquito net to prevent malaria. I put the .medicine on the net. We saw the mosquitoes and flies die. We could sleep better and we are happy.”

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