An Anganwadi Worker From Maharashtra Rows 14 km Daily To Provide Support To Expecting Mothers And NewbornsThe inspiring story of Relu Vasve from Maharashtra, who rows a boat for 14 km daily in bid to provide healthcare support to expecting mothers and newborns during the COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi: “I am a mother of a 7-year-old and 14-months-old girls and I am an anganwadi worker. I know how important IT is to provide medical care, nutrition to the expecting mothers and newborns. If babies are not given proper nutrition since their birth, in the long term it can hamper their health, it can make them malnourished, and no parent would like to see that,” says 27-year-old Relu Vasave. Before 2020, Relu didi, was known only in the northwest corner of Maharashtra’s smallest district, Nandurbar. Today, Relu Vasave is known across the country as a brave anganwadi worker, a coronavirus warrior, who during the pandemic would row 14 km daily to reach out to expecting mothers, newborns and make her village people aware about the COVID-19 crisis.

An Anganwadi Worker From Maharashtra Rows 14 km Daily To Provide Support To Expecting Mothers And Newborns
Meet 27-year-old Relu Vasave, who has been working as an angandwadi worker since 2014

Talking to NDTV about her work, she added,

When COVID-19 pandemic struck, it changed the face of the entire world, our village and lives were no different. So, when the lockdown happened, I decided to go to different hamlets of my village via boat and provide them with their Take Home Ration (THR), ANC (Antenatal care) check-ups and teach village people about the disease and how they can take care of themselves – regular hand washing, how to wear a mask, meaning of social distancing – I guided them on everything.

Under normal circumstances, women visit the anganwadi centre for check-ups and claim their rations. But sometimes Relu’s job demands her to reach pregnant women and newborns to provide adequate care. Since the beginning of 2020, due to the pandemic, Relu has been rowing a boat everyday for 7 km each way that requires two hours of her time, to reach out to the villagers and has helped 138 women, children and provided them with support that they will value for their entire lifetime.

An Anganwadi Worker From Maharashtra Rows 14 km Daily To Provide Support To Expecting Mothers And Newborns
Relu rows a boat everyday for 7 km each way that requires two hours of her time, to reach out to the villagers

You know, if a child doesn’t get proper nutrition from the very beginning of his/her birth, he/she can get malnourished, where a child never reaches his/her full potential and his/her brain is not completely developed, which further affects the productivity and learning of the child going forward, added Relu, who has been working as an angandwadi worker since 2014.

She further said her work is very important for a healthier future of the country and that’s why she decided to brave all odds and reach out to people who needed her support. Relu added,

Coronavirus is an unique pandemic, till date, we don’t really know, what this is all about. Urban people, who have access to all services, feel this way. Imagine the condition of us villagers, who mostly don’t have the basic services. If I wasn’t ready to take these challenges in the COVID times, my villagers, especially the expecting mothers and newborns would not be able to get proper nutrition and support, which they need the most. Nobody was ready to step outside their houses as they all were scared of this virus.

An Anganwadi Worker From Maharashtra Rows 14 km Daily To Provide Support To Expecting Mothers And Newborns
Relu says, “I decided to go to different hamlets of my village via boat and provide them with their Take Home Ration (THR) because I know how important is for them to eat good and nutritious food.”

Highlighting the precautions she took and how she guided the people of her area to combat the disease, Relu said,

I would tell them the basic things such as how they should wash their hands and if they step out, they make sure they are cleaning themselves properly by taking a bath and always wearing a mask. There is no medicine for the disease, good hygiene is basically our protection and that’s what I told them.

Explaining how she learned to row a boat by herself, Relu added,

Since childhood, I have travelled by boat to visit my relatives in neighboring villages, but never actually rowed one by myself. In 2016, some of the neighbouring villagers were unable to come and visit anganwadi centre and for their health, my job required me to go to them. To reach those villagers, the only way possible was to go via boat. I had to wait for fishermen for transport, sometimes, it delayed my work as well, because moving around depends on their availability. That made me approach one of my anganwadi colleague who knew how to row.

In two months time with regular lessons, Relu learned how to row a boat alone by herself. She added,

Water scares me a little, especially during monsoons when current and flow of the river is high. But, the love for my job and the joy of holding a healthy baby or delivering one, made me sail through my fears. Before 2020, I used to row a boat and reach out to villagers whenever required – not that frequently. But 2020 changed this routine, since everything got shut in the pandemic, even our anganwadi centre, I had to reach out to all the expecting women and children at their home and rowed almost daily to all the villages.

Relu’s extraordinary work has also been recognised by her senior officials and even the chief executive officer of the Zilla Parishad. Now the authorities are working together to arrange a motorboat for the anganwadi workers in the district that can reduce the travel time and physical effort.

Signing off, Relu added,

When you row a boat occasionally it is fine, but rowing everyday for 14 kilometres – it is tough. At the end of the day, when I return home, my hands hurt, but I can’t complain because this is what I chose. It’s important that babies and expecting mothers eat nutritious food and remain healthy. After coming home, no matter how tired I am, I have to cook dinner for my family. My husband is very helpful, while, I cook dinner, he plays with the kids. Sometimes, I even have to ferry my kids along to work, as nobody back home can take care of them.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

19,59,54,660Cases
6,30,45,359Active
12,87,22,004Recovered
41,87,297Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,59,54,660 and 41,87,297 have died; 6,30,45,359 are active cases and 12,87,22,004 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,15,28,114 43,509Cases
4,03,840 4,404Active
3,07,01,612 38,465Recovered
4,22,662 640Deaths
In India, there are 3,15,28,114 confirmed cases including 4,22,662 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,03,840 and 3,07,01,612 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

62,82,914 6,857

85,913 466

60,64,856 6,105

1,32,145 286

Kerala

33,27,301 22,056

1,50,040 4,164

31,60,804 17,761

16,457 131

Karnataka

28,99,195 1,531

22,592 82

28,40,147 1,430

36,456 19

Tamil Nadu

25,53,805 1,756

21,521 667

24,98,289 2,394

33,995 29

Andhra Pradesh

19,59,942 2,010

20,999 34

19,25,631 1,956

13,312 20

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,313 87

768 30

16,84,790 116

22,755 1

West Bengal

15,25,773 815

11,370 10

14,96,294 811

18,109 14

Delhi

14,36,093 67

573 3

14,10,471 61

25,049 3

Chhattisgarh

10,01,651 164

2,226 164

9,85,905 327

13,520 1

Odisha

9,72,517 1,703

15,765 65

9,51,049 1,699

5,703 69

Rajasthan

9,53,605 30

268 10

9,44,384 40

8,953

Gujarat

8,24,802 28

274 11

8,14,452 39

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,778 11

130 8

7,81,135 18

10,513 1

Haryana

7,69,828 32

702 1

7,59,499 28

9,627 3

Bihar

7,24,673 76

480 4

7,14,554 80

9,639

Telangana

6,43,093 657

9,314 77

6,29,986 578

3,793 2

Punjab

5,98,947 65

559 24

5,82,102 84

16,286 5

Assam

5,62,731 1,276

14,499 536

5,43,031 1,791

5,201 21

Jharkhand

3,47,049 27

237 10

3,41,686 36

5,126 1

Uttarakhand

3,41,934 60

672 13

3,33,901 47

7,361

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,026 160

1,139 15

3,15,511 144

4,376 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,05,499 116

953 30

2,01,026 84

3,520 2

Goa

1,70,810 81

1,082 48

1,66,586 127

3,142 2

Puducherry

1,20,627 97

923 0

1,17,912 96

1,792 1

Manipur

95,824 1,003

10,922 120

83,392 871

1,510 12

Tripura

77,788 376

3,861 107

73,177 267

750 2

Meghalaya

63,014 541

5,456 124

56,510 409

1,048 8

Chandigarh

61,943 5

36 1

61,098 6

809

Arunachal Pradesh

47,142 342

4,301 14

42,617 325

224 3

Mizoram

36,407 1,110

11,610 686

24,657 424

140

Nagaland

27,586 114

1,350 34

25,684 78

552 2

Sikkim

25,856 240

3,117 42

22,406 198

333

Ladakh

20,320 6

64 6

20,049 12

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,642 3

41 3

10,597 6

4

Lakshadweep

10,155 6

76 6

10,029 11

50 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,531 1

7 5

7,395 6

129

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