Need for creches in Dharavi
May 26 2014 / Posted in Child nutrition
Mohan, about 18 months old spends most of his day in the crib in his dingy slum at Dharavi. The crib is in the corner of the tiny room which has no light. His mother spends hours in the mornings and afternoons working as a housemaid. Almost the whole day, the child eats biscuits soaked in milk.
Apart from gross ignorance about nutrition (many mothers in Dharavi do not even know the word), SNEHA has to deal with the lack of resources that the women face in the area. While many mothers are compelled to work, there is no real solution for the lack of caretakers for their children.
Mohan’s mother says that she leaves her children to her sister-in-law’s care. This sister-in-law who lives a few rooms away already has four children, one of whom is just an infant. One can safely conclude that the children are left to their own devices when the mother steps out.
Many such children of working mothers at Dharavi are susceptible to malnutrition. Children need the care and attention of their mothers is always not possible. Many mothers are busy with daily chores and are also working to earn a living by doing off jobs such as selling utensils, and embroidery, among others.
A few of the other major reasons for malnutrition in children are lack of access to healthcare services, lack of quality of care, lack of good hygienic practices, and absence of correct feeding practices.
Sevikas from SNEHA’s daycare centers say that approximately 90 percent of the children in the centers belong to working mothers. The daycare centers take in children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition and moderate acute malnutrition.
In the center, children learn to eat nutritious food (they are fed milk, fruits, and other snacks), and form habits such as hand-washing, and toilet training, among others. The children are also taught songs and rhymes and play with each other during the day.
Children who stay in daycare centers make great improvements in their health and move to their homes with better habits.
Many of these working mothers are not able to breastfeed their children exclusively for six months, let alone feed them breast milk for two years, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation. Many women resort to feeding their children cow’s milk in bottles.
The sterilization of these bottles is also a question. Many working mothers also resort to feeding easy-to-feed food such as biscuits, and packaged snacks such as wafers, crispies, etc.
There is an acute need for creches for children in Dharavi with its compromised health and lack of care practices. Creches can help a child not only overcome malnutrition but also mentally stimulate him or her. Children need an environment that is safe and stimulates mental and motor development.
Also Read : Family Planning in Dharavi