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Briton Wife Of An Indian Husband, Lindsay Barnes Now Helps Pregnant Women In Jharkhand

  • IWB Post
  •  May 16, 2018

Lindsay Barnes came to India from Lancashire in north-west England to study sociology. A student of Jawaharlal Nehru University in the eighties found love along with the knowledge in the university campus.

She met a Bengali man Ranjan Ghosh from Howrah and in very short time got married to him with whom she shared similar ideologies and a sense of adventure. The couple soon set up a home in a village near Bokaro, Jharkhand.

One accidental help in the village changed their purpose of life.  She was residing in the village to conduct her research on the lives of those living around the coal belt in the year 1993 when a few neighbours came looking for her for help. They wanted her to assist a mother who was about to give birth to her child.

“I was astounded. I had no clue what to do and was trying to put them off with excuses. It was my husband who goaded me to go,” recalled Lindsay. With no medical degree and little knowledge of how to assist the process of childbirth, she used a manual titled ‘Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook’ to guide her through the process.

After this day, her profession changed from sociology to midwifery. “The local women who gathered around me knew I had no knowledge of midwifery, yet they were relieved to see me. They knew I would find a way out. That’s when it hit me that I must do something to help them,” said Lindsay.

There were initial rounds of success for Lindsay and soon many others from different villages began to approach her for assistance. This happened since there was no resident doctor in the area and the primary health center is only open during the day.

After conducting a few procedures, she decided to gain further expertise at nearby hospitals and nursing homes, where she perfected her craft. With almost 100 cases under her belt, she decided to hire safe rooms for deliveries. In 2001, she established a 12-bed health centre. “The village girls now run the health centre with minimal support from qualified doctors. I am still called to handle critical cases. Ninety-five percent of women have a normal delivery. We refer critical cases to nearby hospitals,” she told Metro.

A Commonwealth Scholarship Commission-UK report said, “Lindsay and her husband (also) set up Jan Chetna Manch (‘organisation for people’s awareness’), and started yearly health fairs, monthly camps, and then weekly clinics. Now clinics are open three days a week, providing services to around 600 women each month, mainly for antenatal care.”

Today, the couple share a home in Chambrabad village, 25 km from Bokaro, and Lindsay assists many pregnant women in the area, with labour and delivery. With her husband Ranjan’s expertise in microfinance, the couple has managed to successfully organise 7,000 women from 120 villages under various self-help groups.

H/T: The Better India

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