Meet who has been preparing a remote village in Dungarpur against COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of deaths across the world. It is one of the most horrific events this generation has witnessed. The horrendous noises of shuttling ambulances, over packed hospitals, battles to get hospital beds and oxygen cylinders haunt us from the past. While this apocalyptic madness and helplessness continued in Indian cities and metropolises, the National Health Mission, through its frontline workers,expanded COVID-19 vigilance to rural India. At the forefront were ASHAs, charged with COVID-19 surveillance, case monitoring and vaccine advocacy at the village level.
We met Poshan Champion Ms Amba Dodiyar, working in Salakdi village of Chikhli block in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. It is a beautiful landscape comprising four islands in the watershed of Mahi River. Located near Kadana Dam, it demarcates the Rajasthan-Gujarat border. The village is home to the Bhil community.
Ms Dodiyar took us to meet Anganwadi Worker Ms Kamala Tabiyar and ASHA Ms Kamala Roat of Salakdi Heraphala Anganwadi Centre. Says Ms Roat, “There are no roads as the area is divided by water and one part of the village is covered in a dense forest. At times, it gets quite scary to pass through the jungle, so I go with my husband. Also, it gets difficult to take the boat when it’s windy or rainy. So, we have to drop our work plans on a bad weather day.” Boat rowing is a necessary survival skill in this Rajasthani village.
“People were not ready to come for the vaccination drive and made various excuses to skip it. So, I had to go and repeatedly counsel them to get vaccinated,” she adds. Her consistent efforts to convince people about the merits of vaccination and conduct COVID-19 surveys often faced immense resistance from the community: “They would say, ‘Don’t even dare come near us or enlist us.’ They were scared of vaccination.”
For ensuring vaccinations despite the daunting circumstances, she was felicitated by the District Collector, Dungarpur, in August 2021. She humbly received our congratulatory remarks, saying, “There is nothing extraordinary about it; it is our daily work and duty,which we are doing and will continue to do. I like my work a lot as it helps me stay more connected to the people and my community.