Till three months ago, Chand Begum Shaikh, 29, had never held a thermometer. Today, Shaikh can not only check temperature but has also learned to resuscitate people not breathing. In the following months, the Class 7 dropout who has never held a job will earn a living taking care of senior citizens.
“Till now I would only see doctors examine patients, today I can also check blood sugar. It is very exciting,” said Shaikh, a divorcee who lives with her father and has to fend for her three children.
Shaikh is among 20 women from Dharavi being trained to take care of the city’s elderly in various aspects of nursing by Shield Foundation, a non-government organisation.
“Having worked with the elderly for many years, I realised they need good caregivers especially in situations where they live alone because their children are abroad or just too busy,” said Swati Ingole, founder, Shield Foundation. “We are training a unemployed women who are willing to take care of the elderly.”
Ingole claims that this is the first such initiative in the city. “The nurses hired from various agencies are not trained. I am sure these women will be placed,” said Ingole. The course — Respite Caregivers Training Course — includes sessions every weekday between October 2011 and January this year.
“For the first time, I heard so much about diseases and about our body. Dr Daksha Shah (who teaches basic health) taught us how to take care of ourselves and others,” said Shakila Rafi Shaikh, 26, who has four children and is a Class 9 dropout.
The course includes training on basic health, mental health, communication building, and supportive therapy with lessons on yoga, acupuncture and practical training in hospitals. “It’s very difficult to keep getting maids to take care of me. This new initiative will help people like us,” said Naju Padhsa, 75, who suffers from arthritis.
The course also covers aspects like dealing with people in a bank or a post office, calling a doctor and checking temperature.