'I've Made an Identity of My Own'
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Q: During the past nine months, you have been involved with COVID-related work. Can you give a brief overview of what your COVID-19 pandemic and non-pandemic duties were?
Anganwadi Worker: I was allotted my own village for COVID-related work, so I never had any extra work to begin with.
My biggest responsibility was to conduct surveys of people. I had to go from door to door, especially to the people who had just entered the village and check for any symptoms, give them guidelines, make them understand the protocols of isolation.
I had to continue my responsibility of teaching children, but because we couldn’t gather them all at the centre, I would go to their homes and teach them there. Even my other duties like performing immunisations, giving Take Home Rations (THRs) were all done door-to-door.
Although this was not really my work, but I also helped people in acquiring foodgrains. The Khadi Suraksha Yojna ensured access to wheat for all, but no one in my village was aware of this. So I would help them get access to this by submitting the required documents like BPO, Aadhar Card and Ration Card.
Lastly, one of my major responsibilities was to keep sending in reports. These were on — birth/death, COVID-19 related numbers, THRs, immunisations, and weights of pregnant women and malnourished children.
Q: What was your relationship with other Frontline Workers (ANMs, AWWs and ASHAs)/other Corona Warriors in your area post the pandemic? For instance, how often do you speak with each other, and what coordination have you been doing?
Anganwadi Worker: I think there was coordination among the Frontline Workers (FLWs) who were a part of the pandemic taskforce, but I wasn’t a part of it so I don’t know much about this. The coordination was much higher among them because they had more number of villages under them, but I was just in-charge of my own.
The only coordination that I can remember is that with ASHAs who helped us with conducting vaccinations. Because we had to vaccinate a lot of children, we divided them into groups of five so that the vaccination camp did not see chaos. ASHAs would help in organising this.
For the children that were unable to come to the camps, ASHAs would also help in going from door to door to conduct the vaccinations.
Q: Did you receive any support from your immediate supervisor to carry out these activities?
Anganwadi Worker: There wasn’t any help from the supervisor, they used to say that 'it is your own village, you know how to handle it'. They were swamped with work because they had to take care of the pandemic taskforce, get reports from everyone, and keep asking for updates. So, this is also why they were not as involved on the field with me.
Regardless of this, they were supportive. They would ask me to send reports via WhatsApp, and even though I never delayed in sending them the reports, they assured me that if there is a delay, it would not be an issue.
They would also keep monthly meetings with the panchayat, patwari, Medical Officer, and all the FLWs to coordinate any work. These meetings were mostly used as refresher sessions for the protocols that we were supposed to follow during our visits to people’s houses.
Q: What has motivated you to come to work and carry out your activities during the pandemic?
Anganwadi Worker: My motivation is the fact that this job is my only source of income, so I have no choice but to perform it as my religious duty.
Although, during the pandemic, this motivation has changed quite a bit because of how much people have started to appreciate me and my work. People applaud me, they give me blessings, so these blessings have kept me going more than any salary or incentive!
The good thing about being an FLW is that it also gives you a chance to make a name of your own. After getting married, women are known only in relation to their husband but, because of this job, I got to make an identity of my own.
This interview was conducted as a part of a research study funded by the Azim Premji University under the COVID-19 Research Funding Programme 2020. The study delves into the experiences of frontline workers in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was conducted with an Anganwadi Worker in Jaipur, Rajasthan on 8 January 2021 in Hindi, and has been translated.