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Participatory Video for Improving Maternal and Child Health: PCI’s DARSHAN Project

February 3, 2015
Bishwajit and Brooks interviewing sahelis

DARSHAN project coordinator Bishwajit Mukherjee and me interviewing sahelis Pinky Kumari and Rekha Kumari

In November 2014, Project Concern International (PCI) invited me to document the process of their DARSHAN project, which used participatory video to educate women in rural Bihar about practices that protect maternal and child health, especially during and after pregnancy. DARSHAN was one of four such projects supported by Digital Green in India to demonstrate and assess the effectiveness of participatory video for improving maternal and child health. My report, Promoting Better Health through Participatory Video: The Process and Impact of PCI’s Program DARSHAN, can be seen here.

One of the women I interviewed in November, Radha Devi with her son Hritik.

One of the women I interviewed in November, Radha Devi with her son Hritik.

DARSHAN’s videos featured women who practiced, demonstrated, and endorsed healthy habits, such as handwashing with soap, exclusive breastfeeding for six months after delivery, and immunizing their children. This video clip shows a saheli screening a DARSHAN video during a women’s self-help group meeting.

Saheli Lata Kumari screening a DARSHAN participatory video on complementary feeding

Saheli Lata Kumari screening the DARSHAN video on complementary feeding to the members of a PCI Parivartan self-help group

Although I had twice previously documented PCI’s Parivartan project, which is supported by the Gates Foundation, this was my first exposure to participatory video and Digital Green, which Melinda Gates regards as one of the four ideas that are changing the world.

I returned to Bihar 10 days later to document a DARSHAN learning workshop, during which approximately 50 PCI’s frontline community mobilizers, called sahelis (friends in Hindi), reflected to distill lessons from the project.

Sahelis writing lessons learned during PCI's DARSHAN project

Sahelis writing lessons learned during PCI’s DARSHAN project

On 19 January, I presented findings from my fieldwork at the DARSHAN dissemination workshop in Patna. The workshop was attended by over 50 people from organisations including PATH, Digital Green, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, Janani, BBC Media Action, the Population Council, Engender Health, Water Aid, World Health Partners, Praxis, Jhpiego, and Marie Stopes, as well as by representatives of Jeevika, the Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society. For the workshop, I prepared case studies about a pregnant woman and a saheli who I had interviewed in November.

Presenting my findings at PCI's DARSHAN dissemination workshop in Patna, 19 January

Presenting my findings at PCI’s DARSHAN dissemination workshop in Patna, 19 January

I’m enormously grateful to PCI for the opportunity to document DARSHAN. I’m very impressed by the power of participatory video for accelerating progress in public health.

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