Polio is well on its way to joining smallpox as a scourge upon humanity that has been eradicated – a monumental feat that everyone should be very happy about. This great goal of public health has not been achieved overnight, and although we have had good quality vaccinations for decades, the actual work of eradicating polio is not something most people have ever observed.
Polio Day is fun to watch, but the work that is accomplished on that one day begins much earlier, with training sessions of managers and logistics personnel who travel to Seba Niketan for planning and training in the weeks before the big day. During three days of the major program, the state health department delivers stacks of coolers filled with vaccine, and the Drs. Alis’ volunteers gather for door-to-door visits, and village mapping of all small children. On Polio Day itself, things start early, and, if you’re lucky, you get to tag along and see just about every little kid under five years old in town or in the rural villages.
I am a lucky guy. In the villages of the service area where we work, the responsibility for polio eradication falls on state public health workers and a large army of trained volunteers. As my luck would have it, the center for that work is in the Alis’ clinic, right downstairs from my home in Rampurhat. The recruitment, management and training program is run by Dr. Iliash Ali and Dr. Moli Ali from their center of operations, Seba Niketan (Service House), which is also their home, as well as mine when I am in India.
The GumCha4Health Project is a public health and economic development partnership of two nonprofit organizations, the Rampurhat Railpar Rural and Urban Health Training Society (RUHTS) (in West Bengal, India) and the International Federation for Family Health (IFFH) (in the USA). We work with local rural weavers to produce and bring the GumCha to the American market. The partnership has established two private businesses – GumCha 4 Health, Pvt. Ltd., in Rampurhat, India, to buy and process GumCha; and, GumCha4Health, LLC, in the United States to provide marketing, sales, order fulfillment, shipping, and customer support.
This project triples the income that farmer/weavers derive from weaving GumCha. This of course is an immense boon to farm family economies, and helps ensure the survival of a valuable artisan craft that is more than 2,000 years old.
Please share the GumCha story and our GumCha4Health website with your friends, family, colleagues and others in your social networks. By sharing our project with others, you will help the program and the people our project serves to grow and prosper.
The GumCha4Health project believes that we can make globalization work for small subsistence farmers/weavers. By opening up new markets in the West, many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of farming families who have depended on their skills as weaver artisans to hold households and farms together can return to self-sufficiency providing handloomed GumCha.
“I am so pleased to have received my order of GumCha scarves. I will be giving them as gifts to family and friends. I think your GumCha project is very imaginative, and a wonderful way to raise money for your program while helping to support local weavers.”
– SE, Washington DC