One of the most unique experiences that interns and fellows here at CRHP have is the opportunity to get to know our Village Health Workers (VHWs) and to occasionally spend a night with one of them in her village. It was my great privilege to be able to spend a night in Sakat with one of the VHWs working in that village, Asha. As I have only been working at CRHP for three months, these village overnights give me an opportunity to deepen my understanding of the Jamkhed Model, the role of Village Health Workers, and the lived realities for people in our Project Villages.
Asha preparing snacks for us in between chores and dinner
While spending just one night in a village, it is easy to romanticize this way of life. The chai is spectacular, the pace of life seems somehow slower, the cooking technology appears to a Westerner to be from a different era. However, such a romantic outlook turns a blind eye to the complexities of village life. During my brief evening with Asha, I watched her mill her own grains, prepare food for her family, tend to her pregnant goat, look after her children, wash her sari, counsel villagers, and provide primary healthcare to neighbors.
This night was a glimpse into a way of life that is foreign for me, however, for millions of Indian women, such an evening is entirely mundane. Perhaps the only unusual part is that having received training from CRHP, Asha was able to take blood pressure and counsel patients while tending to her stove as she finished preparing dinner. Seeing how integrated and accessible the care offered by Asha was solidified for me how uniquely appropriate the Jamkhed Model and the Village Health Worker role are for the communities we work with. I am grateful for Asha and her family for allowing me the opportunity to learn more about their community and the part that Village Health Workers can play in being a provider and an advocate for women and healthcare in their villages.