‘We Told Villagers that There is No Shame in Wearing Masks’

Q: During the past several months, you have been involved with pandemic-related work. Can you give a brief overview of what your pandemic and non-pandemic duties were?


Anganwadi Worker: We had to go door-to-door to conduct surveys and keep a note of people who were coming to the village from outside. The information collected was sent to the Gram Panchayat. In the beginning, villagers did not cooperate but eventually, they understood. We also made people aware about handwashing practices and the importance of using masks.


Earlier my Anganwadi centre was open, but we were not teaching children. Now, we call only four children at once to the centre to teach and the rest of the children join via mobile.


New books came in November. We keep children for only one hour in the Anganwadi centre as directed by the supervisor. Within this one hour, they spend half an hour on the books and the next half on games and other activities. Children are being given only dry ration right now.


Additional tasks like taking care of pregnant women and routine immunisation have been happening as usual.


Q: Did you receive any support from your immediate supervisor to carry out these activities?


Anganwadi Worker: We had to send reports to our supervisors regularly on the WhatsApp group by 12 noon. My supervisor advised me if I missed anything in the report. She was cooperative and never behaved badly with me.


Last month, the supervisor came and talked to us. She also talked to the people who had any complaints against us. Sometimes she comes to the village to explain to the villagers how much pressure we are under when they don’t cooperate.


Q: What has motivated you to come to work and carry out your activities during the pandemic?


Anganwadi Worker: Our supervisors motivated us. They guided us on how things should be done. They always told us that we need to do our work with full dedication. They assured us that if we face difficulties, they will come and talk to people.


During the lockdown, we told villagers that there is no shame in wearing masks. We also asked them to avoid gatherings. They understood and followed our advice. There were no COVID-19 cases in our village. We feel proud about it! Our efforts and our supervisors efforts helped in achieving this.


Q: Have you faced challenges in carrying out your work?


Anganwadi Worker: The people who came from outside did not listen to us when we asked them to quarantine themselves. They complained against us when we gave their information to the Gram Panchayat.

Also, we received only one mask from the government and no sanitisers and gloves. We had to buy these items ourselves.


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 31 December 2020 in Hindi, and has been translated.

Source: Down To Earth



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