The aroma in the slums is strong. Daily, men faithfully show up to sort through remnants of leftovers and recyclable materials, taking their job seriously. It’s with this work they care for their families – the sorting and piling, and like any job, there are advantages and disadvantages. To abate the smell of what they’re sorting, many of the men chew tobacco – its sweet smell camouflaging strong stenches.
Back2Back staff also faithfully show up – checking in with the Strong Families whose children attend Strong Families Programming. They make sure the parents can provide for their children what they need to be successful in school. On a visit at the end of 2020, a staff member noticed one of the fathers struggling to speak, due to mouth pain. Staff urged him to visit a medical clinic, and there he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.
The father began treatment as staff walked alongside his family. Through conversations with him, staff learned of many men who chewed tobacco as a solution to this work problem. To prevent other families from battling the same diagnosis, staff addressed for the first time, the negative effects of tobacco with the community.
In the training, they included information about overall oral health and provided screenings and training on how to stop the use of tobacco. 156 men showed up to the first training in March, ready to be educated and become advocates on healthier living.
Home visits from staff also revealed other areas of need. For many reasons, young women in India don’t often have access to sanitary products – the cost is high and families in the slums do not always have the necessary resources. Once this need was realized, Back2Back swiftly provided products to the young women we serve.
Now empowered with confidence, comfort, and the assurance they will not have to miss school, one more barrier to their futures is removed. Together, Strong Families and the staff who serve them are staying in the fight one healthy step at a time.