City Portraits – The force behind Mama Baby Fund

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Neha Munkani, the force behind Mama Baby Fund is a qualified midwife. She happens to have a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia and a Bachelor’s in Social Sciences from LUMS also.

Neha has been working with an NGO to bring about health care improvements on Macro level in Pakistan. After sometime she realized that she wanted to work on Micro level also to make difference to people’s lives as an individual. She enrolled in Lady Duffferin Hospital’s midwifery program while continuing with her day job. This is where she understood the gravity of the situation for women and newborns from underprivileged backgrounds and areas. There are umpteen stories on her facebook page which could break your heart, which could inspire your soul.

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I meet her at Lady Dufferin hospital on a bright December morning. Lady Dufferin hospital has a serene feel about it, unlike any other hospital in Karachi, perhaps due to refreshing greenery and aesthetically pleasing stone structure which looks more like a Hogwarts’ annexe. She takes me to the new building as she begins her usual rounds to the wards, looking for deserving cases who need help. She has a way with the patients as women unfold and share their struggles. Most of the women have limited funds and when something unexpected happens, they find themselves struggling to meet basic requirements; breakfast, laboratory tests, transportation, burial of deceased. Mama Baby Fund tries to bridge the gap here.

She notices my fascination with the structure and shows me around. More people meet her including midwives and nurses. One of them notices us and comes down and asks if she can borrow a pen from her. They consider her one of them.

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We climb down and she takes me to the school of midwifery behind original Lady Dufferin. We meet more people. A doctor refers a patient to Neha for emergency funding while others have a leisurely chat. We visit Midwifery school, a stunning modern facility, made possible by the generosity of Cowasjee Foundation.

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We walk to the Paper market next through lighthouse market and cross busy Bunder road en-route. Neha has to buy new bags for next round of donations. She is adept at the process by now and successfully negotiates with the vendor. She asks the vendor if he can print ‘Mama Baby Fund’ on the bag in the same amount. He agrees. I notice excitement in Neha’s voice and expression.

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I follow her a week later to a hospital in Gizri. She is accompanied by a friend and a midwife from the area. She is there for the first time and people at hospital find it hard to believe that she is doing it on her own. The hospital despite being on the fringes of a posh area is frequented by underprivileged. Most of the people there come from outskirts of the city, after sharing a van for which they pool in funds. They run out of meager savings if something unexpected happens. There were hundreds of people and thousands of stories. You can burn out sooner than you expect.

We call it a day and I leave Neha and her friends at the gate. My time with Mama Baby Fund probably ends there but I am sure that she will go on and touch hundreds of lives, improve them and in the process inspire others to join.

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Categories: City Portraits

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