It must have been karma. Getting a posting in tribal Maharashtra, and being a woman.
In a way, I couldn't have been better prepared for this, what with my medical background, public health experience, and the natural advantage to work with maternal and child health, thanks to my gender.
My textbook knowledge was perfect too, mind you. I knew the RCH (Reproductive & Child Health) Programme verbatim, and the provisions of the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) like the back of my hand. I knew (?) 'rural' and 'tribal' people had too many children, didn't want to go to hospitals provided by the government and were in general, 'non-compliant'. This was my big city education that enabled me to come to Gadchandur, which I couldn't even pronounce or spell for the first few days (it didn't help that everyone whom I spoke to, raised an eyebrow and said, Gadchiroli??). I came armed with the awareness that the field reality wouldn't reflect the textbooks but that they are nowhere in the vicinity of each other was something that the villages around Gadchandur made me learn.
As each day progressed, and I slowly started to 'Unlearn' what years of med school & public health education had taught me, I thought it would be interesting to chronicle my journey for those who can't make it to Gadchandur but would like to be my companions to see health care in general and mother and child health in particular in this area from the viewpoint of somebody who would like to know the truth and be able to make a difference in any way possible.
So, welcome aboard and I hope you are ready to have your beliefs shattered, and your soul shaken up, because health & healthcare in rural/tribal India is not for the faint-hearted!
P.S.: All my experiences and travels are courtesy my work with the Home-Based Neonatal Care Programme of the Ambuja Cement Foundation in Chandrapur District of Maharashtra. I would like to thank the entire ACF, Chandrapur team for making Gadchandur a part of my life.