We are privileged to be doing the work we do: screening disadvantaged people for Tuberculosis (TB) and treating them. We work in slums, villages, mountains, and islands, with people of all religions and castes; we serve joyfully with love in our hearts for all. Apart from India, we have trodden rocky paths in rural Cambodia, war-torn Afghanistan, and remote villages of Tanzania and Zambia. Our results are a revelation. We serve more than 12 million people, we have the highest treatment success rate in the world, and both the death rate and spread of infection is going down dramatically in our areas.
Saving lives is important and that’s what we do. But there are 3 other reasons why TB treatment matters:
1. Bridging the gender gap:
In many marginalized communities, boys are encouraged to play outside, study, and take up jobs. Girls are expected to stay home. Our Community Health Workers (CHWs) belong to the communities they serve. They encourage women and girls to step outside their homes, go for walks, read books, and play and connect with their peers. They insist that fresh air is important for health, and this works! For the first time, we found that women were spending quality time in going for small walks and engaging in outdoor activities, and within the families themselves, girls were given the same freedom as boys.
2. Connecting women across socio-religious barriers:
CHWs encourage regular interactions between women who are TB patients themselves or who have a family member suffering from TB. They help and support each other, do hand-holding, give encouragement and advice. It’s a long and difficult journey, and they realize they need each other. Often there are tensions running high between different religious groups, but our work promotes goodwill and fosters empathy through shared experiences and promoted camaraderie.
3. Empowering women to work and earn:
TB treatment is a poverty alleviation program. Treated patients get health and dignity, they get their jobs back. And when it is women who are working and earning, you can imagine the kind of respect they get from their families. Now no-one can ill-treat them or discriminate against them in any way.
With more than 10 million new cases each year, TB has become a behemoth. We need your support, and we need it urgently. Every step is a step forward towards curing the worldwide TB epidemic. Giving Tuesday is approaching, and I hope you with join hands with me in this much needed endeavour. Donate now to make a difference.