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Fulwari: Providing care & nourishment to tribal children in community-managed crèches in Chattisgarh

Undernutrition in tribal children sets very early in life. Children of displaced working tribal parents are the worst suffers as food, feeding and care is neglected as tribal women work away from home for long hours. 

In Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh, Fulwaris were started to ensure that babies are fed and cared for while mothers, like Phoolmati are away for work. Fulwaris are day care creches run by mothers' groups that provide food and care to children below the age of five. 

Close to 2700 Fulwaris benefit 40,000 children and 14,000 mothers like Phoolmati in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh.The Fulwari programme has now been expanded to all the 85 tribal blocks of Chhattisgarh to give children a happy and fulfilling childhood.

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Twenty-five-year old Phoolmati, is a tribal working women in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh. Like other working tribal women, she more than often took her children with her to work. On some days, they were left behind at home to be taken care by the siblings while she worked in fields.

“When we took our children to our workplaces, they would get injured, feel hungry and uncomfortable due to heat. Our children would get malnourished as we didn’t not get enough time to take care of the kids and feed them nutritious food. All our savings were spent on spent on buying medicines, because our children would fall ill quite often,” says Phoolmati

“The condition of our children has become much better after Fulwaris were started in our village. All the kids at the Fulwari are learning good habits and important values of life,“ she adds.

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In Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh, Fulwaris were started to ensure that babies are fed and cared for while mothers, like Phoolmati are away for work. Fulwaris are day-care creches run by mothers' groups that provide food and care to children below the age of five.  

“Leaving the children in Fulwaris is benefitting us. Mothers are able to finish their work quickly now. “Here children are fed eggs four times a week. They are given three meals a day and are protected from the heat outside,” says Phoolmati.

“The Fulwaris are run by mothers of the village. Everyday two mothers give duties for all the children. They feed them and take care of them,” says Phoolmati.

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Close to 2700 Fulwaris benefit 40,000 children and 14,000 mothers like Phoolmati in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh. 

“All the children and mothers gather at a single place and it becomes easy for the health workers and educators Ormithanins and aanganwadi workers to reach them and monitor their health closely,” says Sameer Garg, Senior Programme Coordinator, State Health Resource Centre, Chhattisgarh.

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The funds for Fulwaris come from Zila Panchayat.  Following which it goes to the Janpath panchayat and then to village panchayat. Then the sarpanch sends the funds to the VHSC (which is a welfare body created by the sarpanch and themithanin together) from where the money comes to the fulwaris,” says Ruby Soni, working as Block Co-ordinator in Lundra, Chhattisgarh.

“Pregnant women and mothers with infants are allotted a sum of 15 Rupees each day and each child is allotted Rupees 6 for each day,” adds Ruby.

“The biggest advantage of the Fulwaris is that the children who are left here are given proper nutritious food so as a result they are no longer at a risk of being malnourished. The hard earned money which was earlier spend on medicines is now used to feed their children better food  and plan for future“ she adds.

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The women groups manage the Fulwaris without charging any money for their services. However Yogesh Jain, Founder, Jan Swasthya Sahyog, Bilaspur, says the programme to become even more effective, it has to be incentivized.

“What we have been advocating is a package which has a certain minimum requirement for running a Fulwari without which the entire idea will be seriously compromised of which we feel a person doing a difficult task has to be included in this.,” says Yogesh Jain

“This cannot be a voluntarism act only. And we feel that not only the right amount of food and the training in the other forms of development of a child but also the person looking after have to be budgeted for in the entire program, “ he adds

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“The biggest advantage of the fulwaris is that the children who are left here are given proper nutritious food so as a result they are no longer at a risk of being malnourished. The hard earned money which was earlier spend on medicines is now used to feed their children better food  and plan for future“ says Ruby.

The Fulwari programme has now been expanded to all the 85 tribal blocks of Chhattisgarh to give children a happy and fulfilling childhood.

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Watch the video about Fulwaris here: http://unicf.in/1yLUkMD