Name: Firoza
Where: Bawniabadh, a settled slum, Dhaka, Bangladesh
What she does: Works tirelessly for women and children’s health
Impact: Women in her community are aware of health issues due to her constant counselling
Nominated by: Alamgir Kabir, Development Education Coordinator, Dhaka Program Unit, Plan International

Firoza, 54, is a familiar face in the slum of Bawniabadh for her contribution to improving mother and child health. She loves people, and she is never tired or unhappy about her voluntary work which she has been doing for so many years. In her early childhood, she started working as a maid with her mother and at the same time continued her studies up to grade 5. When she became an adolescent, she received training from Concern, an international NGO, on how to stay protected from communicable diseases and what the primary treatments are. Eventually she started working with her family and neighbours.

In 1998, Plan started working in her community and she was involved in the process of her community development as a member of the Community Development Forum. For her contribution, she became Chairman of the Health Committee. In 1999, Firoza received training on safe delivery from Plan project. Since then she has been working in her community as a Trained Birth Attendant (TBA). She has been identifying pregnant mothers; providing advice on prenatal and postnatal care; counseling mothers for breast feeding and taking primary health care for their new born babies. She also brings the pregnant mothers to the Plan project office for primary check-up and treatment.

Firoza attends almost all the delivery cases of her community. Her husband also encourages her. She refers critical cases to the hospital.  She also accompanies them to the hospital.  She says, “I know they have no knowledge and anything may happen on the way to the hospital.” And she has indeed faced some very critical cases on the way to hospital.

One day, Firoza went to attend a critical pregnant mother having a delivery pain. Immediately she identified the difficult position of the baby. The patient must go to the hospital but her husband was not at home at that time. When he came home, Firoza took them to the hospital. The duty doctor asked for reports but they failed to show any. At that time the back of the child was coming out. The duty doctor was pushing the child inside saying, “I can not handle this and admit this patient. If I admit her I will lose my job.” They cried and requested, but to no avail, so they turned to take the patient to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. On the taxi cab, the back of the baby was coming out again. Firoza turned the back of the child by her expert hand, then the legs of the baby came out, but again the baby was stuck at the shoulder. When they reached the gate of the hospital at mid night the baby was hanging by the neck. Firoza realized that it would take a long time to get the patient admitted in the government hospital. Suddenly she took her decision and asked everybody to leave the cab and finally she managed a safe delivery of the baby. The mother with her new-born baby came home safely. Today, the child is in a primary school.

Firoza feels the sufferings of the poor mothers. “I want to leave this good work to this world and my younger daughter is likely to follow my lead because she understands my language”, said Firoza. She is now a happy woman with a contented smile ever in her face.

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