Gracia Raina Foundation is a charity to transform India.
Healthy mother – Healthy child. Healthy child – Healthy society. Healthy society – Healthy nation. If you need to transform the nation, that has to start from the mother – rather, motherhood. Worshipping mother as God has been an integral part of Hindu mythology. We are a nation of ‘Matra Devo Bhava’. Virgin Mary is worshipped as mother goddess. The “Sanatan dharma” in India considers the divinity as motherhood and living mother as a God.
It’s a mother who creates a physical body in her womb, bears the pain with sheer perseverance for a bliss called motherhood. Ironically, the ground reality of mother and motherhood is a sharp, agonizing contrast. For a majority of India, maternity is a harrowing experience, a realism far from the alleged, divine bliss.
There are studies, mostly confined to the record books and journals. There are plans, more superficial than with a genuine ability to deal with the ground reality. Announcements in the prevailing scenario remain ceremonial.
Amidst all this, there is a celebrity couple – cricketer Suresh Raina and wife Priyanka Chaudhary Raina – committed to the cause. Approach to deal with the uphill task is meticulous. The aim is to create a system that sustains itself to achieve the desired goal. Slow and steady, loads of homework before hitting the turf for a long, challenging journey.
GRACIA RAINA FOUNDATION
Gracia Raina Foundation, named after daughter Gracia and announced on her first birthday, is a special purpose vehicle for a special mission – redefining motherhood. To change the prevailing notion and practice in rural, majority Indian society which reduces woman to an object and womanhood to a mechanical cycle to produce babies in life-threatening conditions. The mother amidst all this becomes the last priority – rather, remains absolutely neglected. With little concerns for her own care and emotions.
The foundation – committed to better mother, better motherhood – has a three-pronged strategy to meet its ultimate objective.
This is the road map of achieving the goal of happier mother. “We have carried out an in-depth research, which is almost complete. The model we will be using is different than other NGOs. Soon we will be launching the pilot. Once, we are convinced about the project we will go and approach other associates,” says Priyanka.
“The aim is to empower women to make conscious decisions about their lives and make right choices. The foundation will work to create an ecosystem where a woman can stand for herself and then help those less privileged along the way,” adds Priyanka. “The foundation will be dedicated to create awareness while working closely with mother and child who require help, ranging from physical to mental issues.”
Physical and Mental Wellness
A knowledgeable and informed mother will ensure her own and child’s physical and mental wellness. Will take care of herself during pregnancy and ensure healthy child. Will be able to nurse her post motherhood needs to be a healthy mother, competent for right and healthy upbringing of the child. A happy mother to enjoy motherhood. That is the essence of Priyanka’s vision and mission.
Maternity Mortality Menace
The celebrity couple hails from Ghaziabad in UP, documented to be among the two worst Indian States for maternal mortality ratio. Primarily, because there is virtually no care during pregnancy and majority of deliveries happen with no competent medical professionals in attendance. Midwife culture is rampant, but incompetent and unrecognized. This menace leads to an average rate of five deaths per hour during child birth in India, according to a World Health Organisation report. Ninety per cent of these cases are absolutely avoidable – just by way of ensuring better education and better care.
“Midwife culture in India is not organized. The foundation along with the awareness of women, will also work on education of midwives, who can further impart the knowledge to the fraternity,” says Priyanka, who as a professional in the Netherlands has seen and experienced the progress of Western society. “When I was in Holland as a professional, I saw the difference. Midwife in that society is a skilled professional, competent to handle situations and train mothers. We aim to inculcate that ability in our society.”
The foundation would encourage women to enjoy the motherhood and educate them on healthy upbringing of the child. The project will roll out from Raina’s home State – UP. Then, there are plans to take it to other parts of the country.
“Under its umbrella, the foundation covers a vast field and is driven to ensure the well-being of mothers and children while also providing them opportunities for a sustainable livelihood. It believes the best way to unlock human potential is through the power of creative collaborations and bring together pregnant women and their companions and help them through their journey,” is the philosophy of the Gracia Raina Foundation.
The concern is deeper. Where an underprivileged mother is not able to support herself and the child, the foundation will provide them with education and means to support livelihood and empower them to make informed decisions about themselves and their children.
Time to Give it Back
For Suresh Raina it is time to pay back the debt while supporting wife Priyanka’s dream mission. “Whatever I’ve got from this society, I need to give it back,” says Raina while describing “Mother is like the God”.
“We have seen this (the misery of underprivileged women). So we felt like helping them. I readily accepted Priyanka’s noble thought and remain fully committed to the cause. We will educate and support them about mother-care, child-care and child vaccination,” adds Raina.
“I hail from UP. Then I have spent eight years in Chennai (during IPL). Then in Gujarat. I have travelled across the country as a professional sportsperson. The condition and struggle of women is a matter of concern. After starting from UP, we will also take our work to other States in India.”
“Being a mother is learning about STRENGTHS you didn’t know you had and dealing with FEARS you never knew existed,” is a famous quote about motherhood.
GRACIA RAINA FOUDATION is working towards making mothers realize their STRENGTHS to conquer those FEARS to enjoy natures best gift only a woman can have, to cultivate “her little self” with values.