HRH’s visit to India – Day 3 Mumbai

The Countess of Wessex has started her 3rd day of visit to India at the permanent 26/11 memorial at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace & Tower lobby. The memorial has the names of the thirty one fallen inscribed as a permanent homage to those brave and innocent people.

photo shared by Crispin Simon (@CrispinSimon) via Twitter

The 2008 Mumbai attacks (also referred to as 26/11) were a group of terrorist attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai.

photo shared by Crispin Simon (@CrispinSimon) via Twitter

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was specifically chosen by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror group who attacked multiple targets, for an attack so that it will be “striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress”. The Countess laid a wreath with personal message at the Memorial to remember the victims of Mumbai terror attacks.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

Later, on day three of her tour of India to see the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex saw how two Queen’s Young Leaders are transforming women’s health across the country.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

First, HRH visited Sassoon Dock fish market with OSCAR Foundation co-founder, Ashok Shankar Rathod. Many of the families of young boys and girls supported by the Foundation work here in very challenging circumstances. The foundation is working to give them better opportunities.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

OSCAR Foundation (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) is a non-profit organisation that, through football instils the value of education and empowers underprivileged children and youth with life skills to take responsibility of their community development.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

Ashok Shankar Rathod along with two other founding members started the OSCAR Foundation in 2006. OSCAR runs a unique programme that not only teaches the sport to children and youth but also helps them to understand the value of education.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

Then, Sophie visited The Oscar Foundation in the Ambedkar Nagar Community. At the Foundation’s computer centre in the Community HRH was reunited with some of the girls she first met when she hosted them at the Windsor Castle during their #Kicklikeagirl UK tour last year.

photo by OSCAR Foundation shared via Facebook – click on pic to be redirected to view full gallery

Next, The Countess visited a Sir Elly Kadoorie School where Sophie met Queen’s Young Leader, Deane de Menezes, whose project ‘Red is the new Green’ aims to destigmatise menstruation, improve access to menstrual hygiene and ultimately prevent female absenteeism in schools.

photo shared by Diamond Jubilee Trust (@qejubileetrust) via Twitter

In India, it is estimated that over 23 million girls each year drop out of school early due to lack of menstrual hygiene facilities and the stigma surrounding menstruation. Sir Elly Kadoorie School is one of 30 locations where Deane is working.

photo shared by Diamond Jubilee Trust (@qejubileetrust) via Twitter

There, The Countess met girls and their mothers who have benefited from awareness raising sessions that Deane’s organisation provides and was shown the low-cost sanitary towel vending machines and incinerators which have helped to bring about a reduction in female absenteeism.

The Countess was also presented with a period pouch which are given to girls at her training sessions to provide them with somewhere clean and safe to keep their pads.

photo shared by Diamond Jubilee Trust (@qejubileetrust) via Twitter – Sophie with Queen’s Young Leaders Deane & Aditya

The Countess then visited Apnalaya health centre. Apnalaya, (Our Space in English), is a non-profit organization, founded in 1973 by Tom Holland. There Sophie met Queen’s Young Leader Aditya Kulkarni whose pioneering ‘Care Mother’ antenatal app has helped to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in India.

photo shared by @UKinMumbai via Twitter

On a walk to his clinic through one of the largest slums in India, Aditya told The Countess about his project. Globally, around 800 women die every day of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 20 per cent of these cases are in India.

photo shared by @UKinMumbai via Twitter

Aditya co-created “CareMother”, a mobile and online platform which enables health workers to provide pregnant women who would otherwise not have been reached with antenatal check-ups at their homes.

photo shared by Apnalaya (@ApnalayaTweets) via Twitter

The Countess met health workers and mothers, and heard how the app has helped women from disadvantaged communities in India access antenatal care. Within the last two years, Aditya and his team have provided affordable care to more than 30,000 pregnant women in over 800 villages in India, Bangladesh and Kenya.

photo shared by Apnalaya (@ApnalayaTweets) via Twitter

At the Centre, The Countess spoke with health workers who use CareMother daily to monitor the health of expectant mothers, as well as women who have used the app to monitor their pregnancy.

photo shared by Apnalaya (@ApnalayaTweets) via Twitter

Apnalaya works with the most marginalized people living in highly under-served slums of Mumbai. The infant mortality rate in the area is 55, while the national rate is 41. Every second child is underweight. 88% of pregnant women in 2015-16 were anaemic. 53% girls do not have more than eight years of education.

photo shared by Apnalaya (@ApnalayaTweets) via Twitter

68% of the families in the area buy drinking water. Only 13.7% females and 54.6% males are employed with majority working as casual labour. The average monthly income of a family is INR 7,802, i.e., about US$ 121 (From Life on the Margin: Charting Realities, Apnalaya Studies, Series I).

For press release about Sophie’s Day 3 of visit to India by Diamond Jubilee Trust click here, for quite detailed Daily Mail’s coverage click here. I will correct the order of visits after CC will become available. I’m working with very limited information.

HRH’s visit to India – Day 2 Hyderabad & Mumbai

On the second day of her visit to India (30th April), The Countess of Wessex as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in the morning visited the Niloufer Hospital which cares for over 10,000 preterm babies each year.

photo shared by Andrew Fleming (@Andrew007Uk) via Twitter

This institution was founded in 1949 by the Princess Niloufer. Princess Niloufer was the daughter of king of Ottoman Empire and was married to prince Moazzam Jah- son of the last Asaf Jahi ruler in 1931.

photo shared by Andrew Fleming (@Andrew007Uk) via Twitter

Just like Florence nightingale, the princess had a liking to serve the poor and also took to serving the poor as a nurse. In 1949, one of the princess’ maids died during childbirth due to lack of medical facilities.

photo shared by Forus Health (@forus_health) via Twitter

On hearing this news, the princess was very shattered. She then decided to ensure that no mother faces death hereafter. Princess Niloufer made known to her father-in-law the problems arising due to this lack of medical facilities.

photo shared by Spectrum Ophthalmics (@SpectrumOphtha1) via Twitter

Established in 1953 as a 100 bedded hospital, presently it has bed strength of 500 with advanced maternity, pediatric, pediatric surgery supported by excellent diagnostic facilities.

photo shared by Forus Health (@forus_health) via Twitter

After Andrew Fleming (@Andrew007Uk) via Twitter:

With about 300 births a day (they claim the highest) the staff take ROP seriously & ensuring eye screening happens where and when needed.

Before the Trust’s programme launched in 2015, there were no screening & treatment services for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) at Niloufer Hospital. Today, all preterm babies born at the hospital are screened for ROP as part of their standard care.⁣

photo shared by UK in Hyderabad via Twitter

During her visit, The Countess of Wessex met mothers and their babies in the Kangaroo Care Ward. HRH learnt more of the care given to premature babies and how and when they are screened and treated for retinopathy of prematurity.

photo shared by UK in Hyderabad via Twitter

Sophie also met parents and children affected by ROP at a support group, including 3 year old Rishita, who was born at just 28 weeks weighing 650g, along with Dr Yadaiah who battled to save Rishita’s life and later her sight when she developed ROP.

photo shared by the Royal Family

During her visit to the hospital, The Countess saw the impact of programmes supported by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which includes training modules and education to improve quality of preterm care in neonatal intensive care units and ongoing support groups for parents who have a child affected by Retinopathy of prematurity, a condition exclusive to premature babies which can lead to irreversible blindness without treatment.

photo shared by UK in Hyderabad via Twitter

The Countess of Wessex donated two Forus NEOs to Niloufer Hospital and Ghandia Hospital. The donation came on behalf of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, with eight more NEOs set to be donated to other government hospitals across the country.

Speaking about the Trust’s work in India, the Countess said:

We have come a long way from identifying Retinopathy of Prematurity (RoP) as our area of focus to seeing the region-wide change that the Trust has been able to bring about with different stakeholders. The technology is available and the capability of people is clearly visible. What is needed now to treat avoidable blindness in pre-term babies is to upscale work already being done by eye care specialists.

photo shared by Andrew Fleming (@Andrew007Uk) via Twitter

In the afternoon, Her Royal Highness attended a Meeting with Sri Shailendra Kumar Joshi (Chief Secretary to the Government of Telangana) at Telangana Secretariat, Hyderabad. I cannot find anything about this meeting.

photo shared by Crispin Simon (@CrispinSimon) via Twitter

In the evening, The Countess of Wessex attended a Welcome Dinner at the Chambers of Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai. Dinner was hosted by Crispin Simon – British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai/Western India.

Coverage about HRH’s visit here & here.

PS Tomorrow I’m travelling to have a few days off, not sure if I will be posting during my time abroad. If not, I will update the rest of the tour after coming back home.

Outfit & jewellery:
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