Mumbai Mobile Creche Visit with Dr. Kaosar Afsana

Education Series 2019: Part 1

AUGUST 21, 2019 - As a part of the annual HT Parekh series on education, Asia Society organised a programme with a panel discussion on early childhood education and nutrition in Mumbai on 21st August, 2019 with Mathan Varkey of Akshaya Patra Foundation, Lina Ashar of Kangaroo Kids, Dr Kaosar Afsana of BRAC University (Bangladesh) and Vrishali Pispati of Mumbai Mobile Creches. In order to promote cross-disciplinary initiatives and programming, a critical mission of the organisation, Asia Society organised a field visit for Dr Afsana at an active MMC day-care centre located at a construction site in Wadala.

Founded in 1969 in Delhi, Mobile Creches (MMC) is a non-profit organisation founded with the aim of providing a safe and nurturing environment to children of migrant labourers working on construction sites in the country. In Mumbai, the organisation has been working for almost five decades and runs day-care centres in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

The daycare centre, located within four apartments allotted by the B.G. Shirke Constructions consisted of a creche for children between the ages of 0 to 3, a 'Balwadi' for children aged 3-6 years, a general classroom for children aged 6 and above, and an office space reserved for storing records, books, toys, food and other items at the centre. Manned by 6 trained and dedicated staff members, and headed by Ms. Sharda Rahate, the centre welcomed infants and children at 8.45 AM before their parents began work at the construction site. This morning routine is followed by a learning session which focused on developing a child’s cognitive, emotional and social abilities by incorporating creative exercises and games in the teaching methods. To promote the overall development of a child, the staff members encouraged communication with and among the children, so as to create a safe and open environment where they could thrive and grow to the best of their abilities.

Apart from taking care of their early childhood education, the centre also looked after their health and nutrition needs. Working in partnership with ICDS (Integrated Childhood Development Services), the centre provided daily meals and medicines to children and organised weekly visits by a qualified doctor along with a mandatory medical examination of each child every month. The staff also regularly engaged with parents in order to update them about their children’s development and inform them about healthy practices such as breast-feeding, open communication and maintaining health and hygiene. Popularly known as ‘Chai-Paani Meetings’ and conducted on a monthly basis, these consisted of workshops and discussions conducted by the staff to sensitise parents about the importance of health and nutrition.

Dr. Afsana keenly observed the teaching demonstrations by the staff and the processes of maintaining the children’s medical records and dietary charts. She appreciated the work done by the centre staff and MMC at large which demonstrated their goal of ensuring that children of migrant workers aren’t deprived of adequate education, health and nutrition. Dr. Afsana commended their intervention in this space and staff for their efforts to help improve the lives of the children and their parents.

As reported by Deepashree Mahajan, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre