In the state of West Bengal many NGOs are involved in rural development projects. However, they often lack technical and professional skills and capabilities to full their goals. For this reason they turn to IIMC seeking for help. Once an organizer proposes a collaboration, IIMC visits the village at stake and, based on social conditions of the individuals in the community, income sources, and pres- ence of school and health centers, decides whether the network programme is a viable option for the village.
If this is considered suitable, the first step consists in selecting 3 health workers. These are educated women belonging to the village that have successfully attended at least 10 years of schooling. The women come to IIMC for a 7-day training, where they are presented with various health and primary medical services awareness programmes. Once the health workers go back to their villages, they select and survey 300 poor families. These are the first beneficiaries of the network programme, given that the health workers will primarily focus on them.
During the first tsix months of activity, the health workers are exclusively allowed to implement health awareness programmes and distribute generic drugs for minor health problems, as well as distributing IIMC Nutritional Diet pack ages to malnourished community members. If these activities are successfully carried out during the first six months, health workers can start a pre-primary school programme addressed to 3 to 5 year old children of the village, two hours per day. As a general duty, health workers are also expected to frequently perform home visits offering primary medical services, spreading awareness on safe child bearing and family planning. Furthermore Mother Health Awareness Camps and Nutritional Camps are organized jointly with IIMC.
Every month health workers meet with IIMC volunteers at the indoor campus, where they are given medicines and Nutritional Diet packages. Moreover, all network members take part to the biannual Organizers’ Meeting, where future plans are set and exposed to everyone, after a short wrap-up of all activities performed by each community. A part from the regular meetings, IIMC volunteers go on surprise visits to the Network fields, to ensure that the activity of health workers is transparent and effective. These visits are also opportunities for IIMC to give advice, suggestions and proposals to the local community for potential improvements.
The network programme is a way for IIMC to reach individuals in rural areas and spread its mission: it is not uncommon to observe the individuals that have first built their trust on the organization refer to IIMC for other projects, such as the microcredit or the child sponsorship programme. Furthermore, in 3 villages the efforts made by the Health Workers to improve local conditions lead to important results, and IIMC has therefore decided to open a Microcredit Bank in each of these villages, so that its members could take advantage of the Women Empowerment project.