Early childhood is the period from prenatal development to 8 years of age. It is a crucial phase of growth and development because experiences during early childhood can influence outcomes across the entire course of an individual’s life.
Medical facilities such as clinics and hospitals are scarce in rural areas. When advanced medical care is required, villagers must travel long distances. Transportation in itself can be a prohibitive barrier or expense for many poor villagers. Basic health units in these remote areas are not equipped with proper facilities. On average, there is 1 doctor available for 1,200 patients.
Sanam, from a rural area of Thatta district, was born at full term with no complications. However, a week later, her mother Kareema noticed boils on her head. She immediately sought help from a pediatrician in their village but were unable to get a proper diagnosis.
I would open up the boils and drain away the puss, but this barely helped as new boils came out every other day
"I would open up the boils and drain away the puss, but this barely helped as new boils came out every other day," says the worried mother.
Every time her medication doses were changed, her ailment aggravated. Gradually, her parents lost hope and took her to a renowned shrine to seek spiritual solace and treatment.
Surprisingly, within days her boils disappeared but she lost the ability to speak which pained her mother deeply.
When Plan International Pakistan launched an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) project in her village, Sanam's parents were not willing to enroll her at the centre.
"My child can't express herself. It is even difficult for her own mother to understand what she wants at times. What will she do in a school?" Sanam's father said.
After days of talking to Sanam's parents, Plan International Pakistan's Social Mobilisation Team were able to welcome Sanam into the centre. She received special attention to develop her cognitive skills as well as speech therapy. Within 3 months, Sanam started showing real progress.
“We worried about her future, her health and her ability to speak. The judgmental comments and stares we encountered made me very concerned for her self-esteem. The ECCD Centre is an incredible opportunity for Sanam and our family,” says Kareema.
My child grew more confident, she's improving everyday!
She can now pronounce "Amma" (Mother), "Abba" (Father), "Paani" (Water), "A", "B", "C", "D" and can also count some numbers in addition to other basic words and expressions.
"I am amazed by how much my daughter has achieved. As a parent, we want the best for our children. We want to protect them but we certainly do not want to limit them. It is amazing to see how our child surpasses her limitations and flourish. I am so thankful to Plan International Pakistan for that. It brings me great comfort." shared Kareema.