Previous reports are available here.




News from Chandigarh, April 2009


W. Frederick Shaw & Gurpreet Singh




(From Frederick Shaw)

DIR passed a milestone this month when we had our first ever program evaluation.  As we go to press, not all the findings are compiled and analyzed, but thus far there seem to only a few disappointments.  It seems that most of the objectives we set out to achieve were obtained.

April was remarkable for DIR in that we had the greatest number of foreign volunteer workers since we started.  Good friends from California, Bill and Barbara Hamilton-Holway came and brought with them their friends from Utah, Antionette and Partap.  While our pre-school pupils were enjoying Spring Break, these four volunteers rolled up their sleeves and did valuable work.   School furniture got repaired, sanded, painted.  Black boards got the cleaning of their lives and some got re-painted.  We pressed our volunteers into service, teaching our staff English and they conducted an exercise or two in experiental learning.  We were very sorry to see them leave after a highly industrious week.  Poppy Levin from San Francisco was another new volunteer this month.   She will be in Chandigarh a few months and is very kindly donating her English teaching, and internet-web-building  skills several days a week.  An old friend, Bill Karnett from Mill Valley (California) showed up on 16th to start a two-week stay and kindly, and willingly did a hundred–and-one jobs DIR needed doing.   Jaramila from Czechoslavakia, who lives in Chandigarh,  also joined the ranks of volunteers we are shamelessly exploiting. 

Mercifully, we had pleasantly warm weather while our overseas guests were here, but when they left, the mercury soared.  The news media tell us that the heat for the time of year is breaking all records for the last fifty years, and we have no trouble believing that.



(Gurpreet Singh  &  Frederick Shaw)

In December 2005, when our project started in Punjab’s Janta Colony, our aim was to have improvements made in the living standards of the residents.  In keeping with our name and our policy, we did not want to effect the improvements; instead we wanted to equip the local people with the knowledge and skills so that they could, and would, improve their own conditions.  We accordingly hired one local resident from each Unit  (A Unit is a group of 200 contiguous households.) and started their training. 

Three years later, we want to measure how well those employees, whom we call Health Promoters have achieved the objectives we set when we started the project.  For three years those HP have been receiving training-on-the-job, visiting the families in their Units on a daily basis, observing, couseling, examining, weighing children, ensuring immunizations are given and providing meal preparation demonstrations.  Now we want to know “What good did it do?”  and want – not to answer that question ourselves – but to have it answered impartially.

For this purpose, we requested help from two prestigious institutions of Chandigarh, the Government Home Science College,  and the School of Public Health of Panjab University.  Both institutions kindly consented to do an independent evaluation of our program by measuring to what extent we had achieved our original eight objectives.  These are:


1.      At least 90% of the children aged below 5 years are fully immunized against all six serious childhood diseases;

2.      At least 70 % of all parents can demonstrate that they can make and administer their own home-made oral rehydration solution.

3.      At least 90% of the women who gave birth in the last 12 months had a full series of TT shots. (2 for first birth and booster for each subsequent birth.)

4.      At least 75 % of the woman who gave a birth in the last twelve months had a fully-trained physician or midwife assist with the delivery.

5.      At least 50 % of the women who gave birth during the past twelve months had at least 2 antenatal and one postpartum examination within two days of delivery.

6.      Every unit is served by a trained health promoter.

7.      Consumption of pure water behavior is improved.

8.      All health Promoters will know how malaria and Dengue Fever are spread; they will know how the vectors may be controlled and they will be able to demonstrate that they can communicate this information.


Both the institutes assigned teams of graduate students lead by their faculty members, Dr. Damandeep Kaur and Mrs. Monika Malik from Home Science College and Dr. Manoj from School of Public Health to the evaluation.   From what we observed, the teams seemed to have done a thorough job of random selection of records to examine and people to interview.  Many manhours went into the project and we look forward to receiving the final report soon..  We envision a Report with three distinct parts:  The First Part will have been written by Home Science College faculty and will concern their finding as they pertain to the objectives they examined,  Part Two will come from Panjab University and will deal with the objectives they measured.  Part Three is expected to be written by Regina a Kenyan graduate student who has examined the extent to which DIR has improved the Nutritional status of children under five years of age.  While nutritional status improvement was not an original written objective, it was something we wanted to see happen.  It was excluded from our list because we considered three years to be too short a period in which to accomplish a significant nutritional change. 



(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)


Child to Child Program restarted from 6th April a month long break for the month of March, as children were having their annual school exams. The first meeting this month with all the 10 Child to Child teams was an hour of outdoor sports. This was enjoyed by all the children as they felt relieved after a month of hectic school examinations. In the next week a review of all the lessons we learnt in the first month of the program was made through an activity designed for it. In the following weeks focus of our activities was on fly-borne and mosquito-borne diseases. Diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dengue were covered in the games/activities played with children in the last two weeks. An average of 84 children attended all the meetings, which averaged 27 girls and 57 boys.



(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)


A. Pregnancies

Out of a total 101 pregnant women last month in Janta colony and Adarsh Nagar, 15 delivered their babies. 5 others permanently shifted their residence from the colony, while 19 new pregnancies were identified. This makes a total of 99 pregnant women in both the colonies as this month ends.  Of the 15 women who delivered this month, 13 got three or more Antenatal checkups.  

B. Deliveries

Out of 15 women who delivered this month, 7 delivered in the Government Hospital in Sector-16, 1 in PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) and rest 7 delivered at home. Of the newborns 13 are baby boys and 2 baby girls. All the 15 women who delivered had their postnatal checkups within 2 days of their delivery.




(Contributed by Senior Health Promoter Veena)


DIR-I participated in the government-run immunization programme on 20th of April, where a total of 98 shots were given. The details of the immunization are as follows :

a) Measles          - 12

b) BCG               - 8

c) DT                  - 6

d) DPT Booster   - 14



1st Dose

2nd Dose

3rd Dose

Hepatitis B












Besides these a total of 12 children were administered the dose of vitamin A.



E.     D.O.T.S.

(Contributed by Senior Health Promoter Sunny)

In March DIR helped 11 Tuberculosis patients through the DOTS program run by government. DIR bustee office is an authorised DOTS centre, and patients from the vicinity get their supply of medicine from DIR bustee office. This month two of the patients, Ms. Phoolwati and Ms. Kalaburna completed their treatment course successfully; but one new patient got diagnosed for having tuberculosis. Currently the total number of patients served by DIR is 10.

Following is the distribution of these patients in three categories with a brief description of what each means:

Category I – All those new patients whose pulmonary smear is positive for Tuberculosis Bacilli or those whose pulmonary smear is negative but are seriously ill or those who have extra pulmonary Tuberculosis but are seriously ill are included in Category I. This month, we have 3 patients from this category.

Category II – Those old Tuberculosis patients who had either defaulted from the treatment at an earlier stage and have re-started the treatment or those who have again contracted the disease after being cured once or those who had not been cured even after completing a full prescribed course are included in Category II. This month we have only 3 patients in this category.

Category III – Those new patients whose pulmonary smear is negative and they are not seriously ill or those who have extra pulmonary Tuberculosis and are not seriously ill are included in Category III.  This month, we have 4 patients in this category.  



a.     Paper Bags

(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)

In the month of April 09, we were able to add 1 new customer for our paper bags. This is in addition to the regular customers that we already had. To remind our readers, these paper bags are made by women from Janta Colony from re-cycled news papers. Bags worth  Rs. 587 were bought from the bustee ladies, which were further sold at Rs. 747 in the market, making a mark-up of Rs. 160.  Unhappily, this is not profit; we run this activity at a loss when delivery and staff time is considered.


Our total sales and mark-up for the month are as follows:

S. No.

Paper Bag Size

(bundles of 60 bags)


Cost Rate

(in Rupees)

Sale Rate

(in Rupees)

Sale Price

(in Rupees)

Cost Price

(in Rupees)


(in Rupees)


No. 1  Tiny size








No. 2  Small            size









No. 3 Medium     size



2 @15













The total income shown here is more than the outlay by Rs.378 which possibly paid for the vehicle expenses involved.  Thus, it is not a money-maker for DIR, but it seems to mean a lot to the bustee women who make and sell their wares to us.

b.      Skills Training

(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)This month two ladies attended the sewing classes. Ms. Maya, one of our Health Promoters gives these classes to colony women at bustee office. Both the women paid Rs. 50 each as monthly fee.

Two women attended the English classes this month and both paid Rs. 25 each as monthly fee. Total Skills Training fees received during the month of April is Rs. 150


(Contributed by DIR Nutritionist Loveleen Bhumra)

We had a screening for potential beneficiaries this month, and got a good response. Though majority of them were people already engaged in small businesses already, we had some people turning up who had a fairly new idea in mind. We are still working on their profiles, and mostly will have more people benefitted by the programme next month.



a.      School With A Difference

(Contributed by Education Committee Chairman Mrs. Lobo)

The new school year started on 6th of April 2009. This date marks the completion of a momentous year for DIR, the School With A Difference.

We began January 2009 with 17 children as some had left school due to parental relocation. In April, at the last count, we had 35 children, with three more yet to make up their minds. We hope to enroll a full new section by July. Our School will close on 19th May for one and a half month for summer vacations. We are expecting more children when school reopens on 2nd July.

Umesh and Daljeet, two of our new graduates, seem happy in Class I at St. Stephen’s School, sector-47, Chandigarh. We hope that their entry into a much bigger, brighter world will widen their vision and future turn them into global citizens, who will take pride of place in the annals of DIR’s future history, as they make a difference to their original environs.

Not much activity has taken place in April as the new children, some of whom are only 2 years old are going through the necessary crying stage which marks children’s first separation from their family.  We hope to have plenty of good news in May.


b. Teacher Training

(Contributed by Ms. Leena, an Intern from Finland)


In spite of our effort of giving best education to children in the school, there is always a scope for improvement, and a lot has been improved during last few months. Teachers have started using toys and books to make learning process more interesting to children.


Teachers while narrating stories or singing songs have started enacting them as well and children are really enjoying this change. Children love participating in such activities.



Children enjoying a colouring excercise.





(Frederick Shaw)


The US financial slump has made a major dent in the normal contributions our supporters in the US send each year, and the Government funds we hope to receive have not yet started to flow.  Thus, our fiscal state is not, to say the least of it, healthy.  One of our physicians, who was a half-time employee has left this month and one Nutritionist also has left us.  We will delay replacing these staff until we have a little more money in the bank.


A financial complication, which only the Indian Government could conceptualize, never mind create, has now beset us.  Periodically, we must request permission from the Indian Government to bring in Dollars. When we make application we submit a file of support papers one-inch thick, and this takes a lot of time and expense.  This is then submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs, for approval.  This we have just done and we have been told that although all the submitted documents are complete and in order, we will get approval within four to six months.  This means that  -  if we cannot suddenly get an influx of Rupees  -  we will be unable to pay salaries or rent on our buildings.





(Contributed by Administrator Pannu Singh)


1.     Changes

a.         Dr. Harsh Sharma, Health Officer resigned w.e.f. 21 April 2009. He plans to run his clinic full day, i.e. mornings and evenings. We wish him all the success.

b.         Ms. Preeti, a Health Promoter had to join her parents in Delhi. She will be remembered for her all round personality and sincerity. She took active part in all kind of activities in DIR and successfully performed her role. DIR wishes her good future.

c.         Mr. Gustavo Molina, an Intern from Guatemala withdrew his association from DIR w.e.f. 6th April 2009 after he learned that he has got a scholarship for further studies in an English University.

d.         Ms. Leena Kiviranta, an Intern from Finland, left DIR on 30th April 2009 after three month internship with DIR. She contributed with her teaching experience to DIR – School With A Difference. She will pursue her further studies for her master’s degree in Education..

e.         Mr. Raju Dass has been hired to perform duties as a Health Promoter in place of Ms. Rajinder who had resigned late last month to get married. He joined DIR-I on 1st April 2009.

f.           Two Health Promoters, Shanti and Sangeeta are taking exams to further enhance their academic qualifications and are on leave for more than a month in order to prepare.. Sunny and Veena, our two Senior Health Promoters are looking after Shanti and Sangeeta’s Units till they come back to work in the month of May 2009.

g.         Work timings for the field staff has been switched over to summer schedule so as to match the time convenience of bustee people, for whom we work.


2.      Visitors

a.                 Mrs. Monika Malik and Dr. Damandeep from Home Science College, sector-10, Chandigarh along with 23 post graduate students came to bustee to do the independent evaluation of DIR’s program.

b.                A team of students of master’s in Public Health from Panjab University, Chandigarh headed by Dr. Manoj, PhD visited bustee to independently evaluate DIR’s program on 3rd April 2009.

c.                 Mr. K.T. Srinnivasan, Trustee President of DIR-India was with us from 6th April to 8th April 2009. He visited bustee office on 6th April to see for himself how the program is being implemented.

d.                Dr. Shaw’s friends Mr. Bill and his wife Barbara along with Mr. Altaf and his wife Antionette visited bustee on 7th April. They interacted with field staff on experiential learning. They were given a hearty send off by field staff by displaying one Punjabi and one Rajasthani dance. They were very appreciative of the work DIR-I is doing.

e.                 Mr. Bill Karnett from California visited bustee from 16th April to 29th April and was helping field staff on English conversation and communication skills.

f.                  Ms. Jaramila and Ms. Poppy, too helped Health Promoters in English conversation and teaching in English during their several visits throughout the month.

g.                 Mr. Rajiv Sharma, from Health Department, Government of Punjab paid a visit to check on DOTS program. He checked the records and medicine boxes being taken care of by Sunny, Senior Health Promoter.


3.      Absences

a.       Dr. Harsh was on leave on10th of this month.

b.      Ms. Loveleen, nutritionist went on leave for three and a half day, i.e. a half day off on 6th, and three full day leaves on 16th, 17th and 20th of April..

c.       Mr. Pannu, the administrative Officer was on leave on 2nd and for a half day on 24th of the month.

d.      Ms. Veena, Senior Health Promoter was on leave on 14th and 28th February.

e.       Ms. Meena, a Health Promoter (HP) was on leave for two and a half day, i.e. a half day off on 1st, and two full day leaves on 6th and 8th of April.

f.        Ms. Meenakshi, a Health Promoter was on leave from 22nd to 24th February April.

g.       Ms. Rani, a HP took 4 half day leaves on 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th April.

h.       Mr. Sanjeev, a HP took 3 half days off on 14th, 22nd and 23rd and two full day leaves on 20th and 21st April.

i.         Mr. Sunil, a HP was on leave from 20th to 27th April.

j.        Ms. Sushma, a HP was on leave on 14th and 16th April.

k.      Ms. Sangeeta, a HP was on leave for the whole of this month as she was busy in taking her academic examinations.

l.         Ms. Shanti, a HP was on leave for the whole of this month as she was busy in taking her academic examinations.



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