Teach breast cancer basics & self exam on a one on one basis
Pudhu Vasanatham – meaning new spring – is a project to reach breast cancer awareness and teach breast self exam on a one to one basis. This will not be an exhaustive exposition but a concise program of 15 minutes. It will give basic information, teach breast self exam on breast models and will end with an assessment questionnaire. Every minute which would the volunteer spend with a lady was planned . And it was decided that all educators will conduct the program similarly and speak only what was told to them.
Volunteers in Coimbatore, Chennai & Mumbai were trained through training workshops and the program commenced on 1st Dec 08. The twenty five lady volunteers thus trained were in the field immediately in all parts of Tamil Nadu and in and around Mumbai. They talked to women of all ages – from college students to women at old age homes. The entire spectrum of society was covered – from tribal women to high society. And they encountered them in ones, twos and thousands!
In 30 months time 37, 000 women have been reached! This is a phenomenal number considering the fact that this campaign was on a one to one basis and was conducted by volunteers who were otherwise busy with day to day work. From the high reaches of Kodaikanal to fishermen kuppams in Chennai , from elite socialite circles in Coimbatore to tribals in Mumbai , from college students in cities to self help groups in villages women learnt the basics from a person committed to the cause. At kitty parties, at bhajan sessions, at family get togethers ,at business meets, at crèches, at schools, offices, colleges and even at street corners our lady volunteers were there with forms and models.
And what did they get in return ? Gratitude, thanks or call it any other name and they came in heaps. This is clear from the accounts that they have given us .The excerpts of these are in the pages of this chronicle. Each of them has felt that for the little time they have spent they gave a lot and earned a lot more. Certainly this is an onset of a new spring in the lives of women in India!
Thugh response was very good, the momentum couldn’t be kept up as volunteer enthusiasm dampened over time. It slowed down but it continued. The standard method of lec dem for large groups also continued.
In 2015 July for the first time in the history of trust we decided to enroll paid educators for this program. Breast cancer awareness had improved tremendously since 1998 when it began creating awareness, yet the numbers of women with advanced cases hadn’t dropped significantly. Even in June 2015 more than 80 % of women detected to have breast cancer were in stage III or IV . This is across India. Hence to step up awareness and overcome the shortage of volunteers it decided to rope in paid educators.
In Aug 2015 it had 12 ladies who were well trained to conduct this short session and they went to the field to create awareness. By March 2016 this group has covered close to 20,000 women around Chennai & Coimbatore. Leading among those who are conducting this program is Mrs.Shanti in chennai . She covers close to 700 women each month. As they in Tamil she has been reaching women inevery patti – thotti , every nook nook & corner. A bulk is wome from villages near Arakkonam , who are enrolled in the MNREGA scheme. Women in & around Coimbatore are being taught by the dozens. Soon action will start around Mumbai and the trust hopes to reach out to 100 women each day ..