Maihar Cement Works helps improve health and well-being of over 120 girls from tribal community in Madhya Pradesh

Maihar Cement Works helps improve health and well-being of over 120 girls from tribal community in Madhya Pradesh

As per United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), India is home to the largest adolescent population, age between 10-19 years in 2021, in the world. Every fifth person in the country today is in this age group. Studies have found that undernutrition is highly prevalent among adolescents in the rural and tribal areas of India with high school dropout rates, at 67%, prevalent among the tribal girls between classes I to X.

Therefore, it is imperative that steps are taken to help improve the overall health and wellbeing of these children.

As part of its overall CSR initiatives, UltraTech Cement Limited is always looking at opportunities to establish projects that ensure that the often-ignored clusters of the society are also benefitted.

Project 'Ojashwani' is one such project.
'Ojashwani’ a unique CSR initiative was created and implemented by Maihar Cement Works, the company’s integrated cement manufacturing unit in Satna district in Madhya Pradesh. The project endeavours that girls from underprivileged background are provided the resources that ensures that their health as well as wellbeing is taken care of. As part of 'Ojashwani' over 120 girls between the age group of 11-15 years, residing in the surrounding areas of the plant witnessed an improvement in their health and well-being. As a result, the girls hailing from a tribal community were able to attend their school regularly and dedicate more time to studies.

Making of ‘Ojashwani’

During one of the general health check-up camps organised by the CSR team of Maihar Cement Works in the year 2022, it was observed that the girls studying at Kasturba Balika Residential School situated in the mining area at Bhadanpur were suffering from regular health issues, owing to malnutrition. Health issues like anaemia, skin disease, and other communicable and non-communicable diseases were rampant.

Delving into the cause of poor health conditions of the girls, the team found signs of gender disparity among the tribal people with parents regularly deprioritising the nutritional and educational needs of the girl child. Owing to frequent illnesses, the girls were falling behind in studies and were hardly keen on sports as well.

With an objective to improve their general health condition, which in turn would help them focus on their studies, the unit team conceptualised and launched a project in collaboration with the medical team of Maihar Cement Seva Trust Hospital, run by the unit management.

Thus, project ‘Ojashwani’ was created. Derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘Ojashwani’ meaning ‘an energetic, powerful and bright girl’, the ‘Project Ojashwani’ was a six-month (November 2022 to April 2023) comprehensive health project for the girls, that the medical team and the unit CSR team implemented in coordination with the school administration.

The team started with collection of samples of blood of all the girls. Based on the lab reports, the team provided medical treatment and regularly monitored the girls’ health. The team also facilitated a series of counselling sessions by healthcare professionals with schoolteachers, parents, and girls on the impact of health and nutrition on development of adolescent girls through parent-teachers’ meetings, individual counselling sessions and visits to the tribal community. To help the girls develop fitness the CSR team contributed sports equipment to the girls as well to enable them to play.

As a result of these concerted efforts the girls started playing sports actively as well as performed better in studies, showing signs of significantly improved health quotient. The project was inspired by two of the focus areas of UltraTech Cement’s community development outreach, Mother and Child Healthcare, and Education.

As adolescents flourish, so do their communities, and all of us have a collective responsibility to ensure that adolescence is an age of opportunity. UltraTech Cement has always supported the responsibility when it set its business level goals in the areas of Education and Health of ensuring 100% enrolment and zero dropout rate, and access to quality essential primary health services that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being). UltraTech started implementing the goals when over 3,126 girls and mothers participated and actively engaged at its sessions on adolescent healthcare and nutrition awareness with the company working towards overall development of the way of life of the communities around its plants, most of which are in distant rural areas and tribal belts.

UltraTech undertakes its social initiatives under the aegis of The Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development with Mrs. Rajashree Birla as its Chairperson. UltraTech’s CSR focus areas are education, healthcare, sustainable livelihoods, community infrastructure and social causes. UltraTech reaches out to more than 1.6 million beneficiaries in over 500 villages in 16 states across India.

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