Calgary Sun article

This is a guest post written by Lauren Barr of the Calgary Sun. The article was originally published in the Sun on Saturday, September 8th, 2012. Published with permission of the Calgary Sun.

Prominent Homes helps bring crucial care to India

CALGARY, AB – A charitable endeavour by Prominent Homes is making powerful differences across the globe.

Prominent Homes Charitable Organization began an ambitious project several years ago in Ganganagar, Rajasthan, a poor state in northwest India, where Prominent Homes’ president, Deep Shergill, grew up.

The project is a clinic, Mata Jai Kaur Maternal and Child Health Centre, which helps improve the quality of life, health and safety of women and children.

“The area is very poor and desert-like, one of the least developed areas in the world,” says Aneel Brar, chief operating officer of Mata Jai Kaur and nephew to Shergill.

“There are many problems with the health system in the rural areas, such as problems with access and hygiene. For women bearing children, they have difficulty getting to a safe place to deliver and less than half of the pregnant women have safe deliveries.

“My grandmother died there in childbirth in 1946 and not many improvements have been made to the system since then.”

In 2009, Prominent Homes Charitable Organization opened the prenatal clinic, named after Brar’s grandmother Mata Jai Kaur. The clinic provides health services to women wanting to conceive or who are pregnant, even young girls entering puberty.

“The clinic is able to provide basic services like folic acid and nutritional supplements to pregnant women, as well as providing delivery services,” Brar says. “Women are able to get the highest quality of care for free.”

With 343 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, and an infant mortality rate of 60 deaths per 1,000 children under one year of age in Ganganagar, the care is necessary.

The prenatal clinic is built in a village, not a city or town, which improves access for those in rural areas and has the added benefit of not being adjacent to overcrowding and pollution.

Mata Jai Kaur is treating 80 to 100 women every week and wants to expand even further.

“What we would like to do now is provide after-delivery care,” Brar says.

“Many women don’t get post-partum checkups and can suffer from fever and infections. It can also decrease the rate of infant deaths.

“Our goal is to improve the health outcomes of women and children in this impoverished area. Most maternal and child deaths are unnecessary and we want to address these issues.”

The Mata Jai Kaur Maternal and Child Health Centre is 100% funded by Prominent Homes.

Lauren Barr

Note: The above text contains some factual errors: The project is not just a prenatal clinic (that’s part of it), but a full-service maternal and child health centre. Mata Kartar Kaur, my grandmother, died in 1956, not 1946. Our prenatal clinic, part of the overall Centre, was named after my grandmother Mata Kartar Kaur whereas the entire Centre is named in memory of my great-grandmother, Mata Jai Kaur. Despite these mistakes we thank the Calgary Sun for highlighting our project!


4 Comments on “Calgary Sun article

  1. Your work is really inspiring! I wish you lots of luck in your endeavours.

    I’m interested in child marriage, particularly in the Rajasthan area, and was wondering, do many young mothers access your clinic and services?

  2. Thanks for the comment starlitwishes! The majority of our mothers are young. We did a survey of our patients this past spring and the results show that our patients are mostly in their early twenties. But this doesn’t give the whole story. In this area, indeed in most of rural India, people don’t keep good birth records and many people don’t really know how old they are. Since they are married and pregnant they’ll assume that they must be around 20-25. In reality, many women in poorer families in our area marry at the age of 15 to 16 and are pregnant within a year. Early marriage and pregnancy has a huge negative impact on women’s empowerment, the health of the mother and the child, and the opportunity for both the mother and the family to achieve higher levels of economic independence. I believe it’s illegal to marry before the age of 18 in Rajasthan, but this is a law that’s virtually impossible to enforce (especially since nobody really knows how old they are).

    The problem is that convincing people to marry later is a difficult cultural, educational and policy problem. But there is hope — Bangladesh has made tremendous strides recently in increasing the age of marriage by giving incentives for families to send their daughters to school. Girls are getting married later, having fewer kids and becoming economically independent (removing the economic incentive for male-child preference). It’s changing the whole equation there and it’ s something we’ll look to emulate here.


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