Broadleaf's First Women's Community Health Festival

With support from Adventures for the Mind, Broadleaf hosted it's first Women's Community Health Festival

It was a lovely, sunny morning in December in India’s Darjeeling hills region. Students were lined up at the entrance to Kolbong Junior Basic Primary School - but it wasn’t a school day. The students and their families had come to attend their first Women’s Community Health Festival. The event, sponsored by grant funding from Adventures for the Mind Foundation, was targeted to girls from Broadleaf CHHIP schools in the region and their female family members. Individual invitations went out to the parents of students, and posters went up to invite broader community participation.

When the day of the Festival arrived 425 girls were in attendance, along with approximately 70 community members, including many male classmates. The event time was extended from four hours to seven to accommodate the large number of attendees. Festival participants traveled between women’s health workshops conducted by Broadleaf School Health Activisits (SHAs). Workshops explored a variety of topics related to women’s health and empowerment: menstruation and women’s hygiene, women and children’s rights, gender equality, and child marriage. Students and community members alike engaged in animated discussion and stepped up to take a quiz to test their new knowledge.

SHAs reported enthusiastic feedback from participants, several of whom created video testimonials. Parents particularly appreciated new information about health and hygiene and the risks associated with child marriage, while many students were most excited to discuss gender equality. In the words of one 7th - year student from Balsai Academy: “In society a difference is always made between a boy and a girl, [with people] saying girls are meant to do the household chores and boys are meant to be the bread-earner of the family. But that is actually is a very wrong concept . . . we should try to change this thinking.” A younger student from Padeng felt similarly inspired: “[Today] I understood that both boys and girls are equal irrespective of anything. Both boys and girls should be treated equally and the same amount of love should be given to them.”

On behalf of our students and families, we at Broadleaf want to extend our thanks to Adventures for the Mind Foundation for making this event possible! We anticipate this will be the first of many successful Community Health Festivals, and can’t wait to see what our SHAs and their communities develop in 2018.


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