This is the beautiful story of 28-year-old Soni who combatted severe malnutrition and successfully gave birth to a healthy baby.
Soni has been a resident of the Chanderpuri slum for more than 9 years, where she settled in a one-room shanty after her marriage at the age of 19 years. Her parents lived in the nearby Babarpur slum. Soni’s battle with poverty and deprivation started the day she was born as her parents struggled to meet both ends meet. Soni had poor health and suffered from undernourishment since her childhood. The condition did not change even after marriage, as her husband did not have a regular income. He worked in a nearby factory as part-time labourer earning less than 2 USD a day, which was also not regular.
Moreover, he had the habit of excessive drinking which further accentuated domestic tension and aggravated the financial crisis for the family. Within a year of marriage, she gave birth to two beautiful daughters. This caused Soni’s health to deteriorate further. She never had enough to eat. A balanced diet was out of the question. As women in the family are the last to eat after providing for everyone, Soni had no food left for herself for many days, and had to fill her stomach with glasses of water.
The onset of the Covid19 pandemic plunged Soni and her family into a deep crisis. Her husband lost whatever source of income he had. With a four-member family to feed, there was no food and the family was on the brink of starvation. Her daughters also became malnourished. This took a further toll on Soni’s mental and physical health. Her condition worsened, and she would have regular bouts of dizziness.
As soon as the Asha team found out, they immediately rushed to Soni’s house and began providing emergency food bags to the family. Looking at her skinny and severely malnourished state, the Asha team leader brought Soni to the Malnutrition Clinic.
She was found severely underweight at 35 KG with a BMI of just 17. She was immediately enrolled on Asha’s unique Laddoo and Sattoo programme- A special supplementary nutrition programme with high protein, high energy and high-calorie sweets and drinks for combating malnutrition and anaemia amongst women and children. Soni attended the clinic five days every week for the programme. She was also regularly provided micronutrient supplements like calcium, zinc, iron and other mineral and vitamin supplements.
Gradually she began to gain weight. With proper monitoring from the Asha team along with intensive interventions for almost six months, her haemoglobin went up from 6 to 9. Her weight went from 35 to 44 KG, and her BMI went up to 20.3.
When her health condition improved, she became pregnant! She had been wanting a baby for a long time.
Her pregnancy was regularly monitored by home visits by Asha’s CHV, and her ANC checks was done at Asha. When her delivery date approached, Soni was accompanied to the hospital for delivery by Asha’s CHV. Soni delivered a beautiful, baby boy on 9th July 2021.
The baby is healthy and born with a normal weight. He was breastfed within 6 hours of delivery. After 24 hours of monitoring at the hospital, Soni was discharged and sent to her home. Adequate postnatal care was taken by the Asha team and the CHV.
The baby is now nine months old, and Soni lovingly calls him Laddoo in memory of the programme which saved her from malnutrition and gave her a beautiful baby boy. “I can never forget what the Asha family has done for me” says Soni. “They stood with me during the worst time of my life and saved me. The gift of a healthy baby is the greatest gift I could have ever asked for.”