Ignorance Is Not Actually Bliss

Maya Rani Mandal consults Friendship medical staff

Barely an adult, Maya Rani Mandal of the Kalmegha village in Shathkhira (a district situated in Southwestern Bangladesh) was met with a proposition for marriage at the early age of 18. In a desperate attempt to escape from the pressures that came with being a woman of marriageable age in her society, she yielded to her parents’ wishes and accepted Panchan Mandal, a day labourer in the local fishery, as her husband. Ignorant as they were about any form of family planning, being from an uneducated, rural background, Maya was pregnant within the first few months of their marriage. And before even a year had passed since her first pregnancy, she was with child for the second time, and these two consecutive pregnancies in the span of two years took a toll on Maya, both physically and mentally.

Luckily, it was around this time she made the acquaintance of Pratibha Rani Mandal, a woman who was not only her neighbour, but also the Friendship Community Medicaide (FCM) in charge of the region Maya lived in. In addition to providing primary healthcare services to the residents, as FCM, it was Pratibha’s job to facilitate and educate the locals on the importance of family planning, nutrition, maternal and child healthcare, pregnancy and safe delivery among other things. When she began a survey of the locals regarding their awareness of the importance and availability of these services, Pratibha realized Maya was completely in the dark when it came to maternal and newborn healthcare needs and, as such, took no measures to ensure her or her child’s well-being during the pregnancy. Upon Pratibha’s insistence, Maya decided she would visit the satellite clinic for her first checkup.

“Thanks to FCM Prathiba’s timely intervention and the medical treatment that Friendship makes available and accessible for all, I am now in good health, and more importantly, so are my two babies. Imagine if I had never found out; I would be living in ignorance, and would have put my children in danger.” — Maya Rani Mandal

At the satellite clinic, through Paramedic Tamima, Maya was suprised to discover that one must undergo at least four checkups during pregnancy and after the delivery as well. Having spent almost the entirety of two pregnancies without any medical help, she hadn’t realized how her negligence had put her and her child’s life in jeopardy. In an attempt to undo the possibility of any long-term damage, Paramedic Tamima prescribed Maya a myriad of supplements in addition to her dietary plan to ensure the baby’s proper development. Despite any deficiencies in Maya’s body during the pregnancy and the delivery, Maya and her two children are healthy and happy as ever today.

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