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Script 57.11

Script

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Program Host

Mama Lillian:
Woman farmer and mother. She helped to organize a health care clinic in her village.

Program Host:
Hello, and welcome to today’s show, “Women and Community.” If you are a mother, you know how worried you are when your child is sick. It can be difficult to face a problem when you don’t know how to help.

Today we will speak with a woman who found a way to solve her problem. Her name is Mama Lillian. Mama Lillian was very worried about the health of her children. They didn’t seem to have as much energy as some of the other children. She decided to organize a child health care clinic in her village with a group of other women. You will learn how the women held meetings, made decisions and worked together so that they could accomplish the goals they set.

Mama Lillian lives in the country of Tanzania in a province named Rukwa. In Rukwa it is not easy to get health care. There are only three small hospitals far away from most people’s homes. This is a problem for everyone, but especially for young children who get sick often. And many new babies die because there is no health care available. A few years ago, one of the children who died was the daughter of a woman named Mama Lillian.

Please, Mama Lillian, I know it is difficult, but can you tell us what happened?

Mama Lillian:
Greetings to everyone. When my baby girl died, I was very sad. I had walked for two days to the nearest hospital, but the doctor said he could not help my daughter. The doctor said my daughter was weak because she did not eat enough nutritious food when she was a baby. I never wanted to lose a child again. I decided to take action.

Host:
It is good that you decided to do something, Mama Lillian! What did you do?

Mama Lillian:
I knew that if I waited for the government to help children in our village grow up to be healthy and strong, it might take a very long time. I decided to talk to other women in my village and ask them if they wanted to work together.

Host:
Were any women interested in getting involved?

Mama Lillian:
Yes! Many other mothers were concerned about the health of their children. Some even had babies who died, just like my daughter. Together we decided to build a child health care clinic. We wanted to have our own place in the village where we could teach ourselves and other mothers about child health.

Host:
A very good idea! But that would take a lot of work. How did you do it?

Mama Lillian:
The first thing we did was hold a village meeting. We wanted to get help and ideas from as many people as possible. Many men and women came to the meeting, but there were some problems.

Host:
What problems did you have?

Mama Lillian:
Some of the women were not comfortable speaking freely in front of the men. The men took over the meeting and the women were very quiet. By the end of the meeting the men were talking about other matters. We did not have time to discuss the child health care clinic.

Host:
I have seen the same thing happen in my community. When men are present, some women do not feel they can speak freely.

Mama Lillian:
That’s right. The women were unhappy about this so we decided we would have a meeting of our own. The women’s meeting was a huge success. We agreed to build a small child health clinic that would have two main activities. The first activity is to monitor the growth of children in the village by regularly weighing and measuring them and recording their weight and height.

Host:
That is a good idea. If mothers regularly weigh and measure their children they will know if their babies are growing at a healthy rate. What is the second activity of your clinic?

Mama Lillian:
Our second goal is to teach women about making nutritious food for their children that is also not too expensive. We chose this activity because everyone wanted to learn about this.

MUSICAL BREAK.

Host:
Now the group of women had a plan to build a health clinic for children. They agreed to contribute whatever they could. They made a list of materials they would need to build the clinic and a list of all the tasks that needed to be done. Each woman volunteered for a task.

Some of the women looked after the children while others made bricks for the building or carried water and sand. Mama Lillian kept records of how much money they needed and how much they spent. Some local businesses donated cement. All the women helped. After about two months of hard work they had built a small clinic and saved enough money to purchase a weighing scale for children.

The next step was to inform the other women in the village about the new child health clinic.

MUSICAL BREAK.

Mama Lillian:
We wanted everyone in our village to know about the new clinic so we walked to each house and spoke to mothers about why it was important to weigh their children and learn about nutrition.

Host:
What did the people in your village think about the new clinic?

Mama Lillian:
It was difficult at first. Some of the men did not trust us because we were a group of women who were working without any men. They wouldn’t let us talk to their wives. A few mothers were suspicious of us and thought that we would harm their children if they brought them to our clinic. We explained that the clinic helps the children in our village grow up healthy.

Host:
Do they trust you now?

Mama Lillian:
Yes. Now everyone is happy to have the clinic, but it took some time. We felt discouraged when some people did not trust us. Some of the village men even made jokes about us because we worked by ourselves. But the women in my group are strong. We supported each other, and continued with our plan. Now our clinic is quite busy. Mothers come to learn about child health, talk to each other, and even share child care!

Host:
Congratulations Mama Lillian! Hearing your story makes me want to organize something in my own community. Actually, we really could use a new food storage bin…

Mama Lillian:
Many things are made possible when women work together!

MUSICAL BREAK.

Host:
The child health clinic in Mama Lillian’s village is making a difference. The women in the village bring their children to be weighed and measured and are now better informed about healthy food for themselves and their children. The clinic has also become a place where women can meet to discuss other issues, such as breastfeeding their children. There is still much work ahead, but everyone respects what Mama Lillian and the group of women have done for their community. The group is a good example of the success women can achieve when they work together to solve common problems.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by:  Elinor Bray-Collins, Researcher/Writer, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewed by:  Helen Hambly Odame, Research Officer, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), The Hague, The Netherlands

Information Sources

This story is adapted from a research project completed by the author with the African Medical Research Foundation in Tanzania.

Report on Rukwa Region Community-Based Health Care Project — Phase Two, African Medical Research Foundation, July 1995.

Report on Participation of Women in the Community-Based Health Care Project, Rukwa — Phase Two, African Medical Research Foundation, October 1995.
“He

althy Children of Today are the Healthy Children of Tomorrow,” V. P. Kimati, Public Lecture, Tanzania Public Health Association, Sept. 1988.

Statistics: United Republic of Tanzania, Bureau of Statistics, 1988 Population Census, Volume VIII.