Gauri And I: A Grandmother’s Tale
Renuka Korwate recounts how an Angawadi didi changed her entire family’s attitude towards children
"My elder granddaughter Gauri suffered a lot due to her health condition, I'm not going to let this happen to my younger one,” asserts Renuka Korwate.
Renuka belongs to the Gondi tribe, and lives in Ambora village in Maharashtra’s Tahsilwad Tehsil. With six family members and a small income, it is often challenging to manage livelihoods. “We rely on agriculture for our incomes. Gauri's mother did not pay attention to her as she was pregnant for the second time shortly after Gauri was born. As a serious consequence, Gauri became malnourished. I decided to stay with Gauri in the hospital for 14 days,” she says.
“I'm proud to say that our Anganwadi didi helped me a lot. The pieces of information and knowledge she provided helped me tremendously to take better care of my granddaughter. I regularly visit the Anganwadi with my two grandchildren. I'm not afraid of bragging about my passion for learning new things in the Anganwadi center. If I don’t learn, how will little granddaughters remain healthy? All these things didn’t matter to me previously. We all remained busy with household chores and believed that children can play on their own.
“However, we soon became conscious when the Anganwadi Center taught us about early childhood development. If we show anger to the baby, their brain webs get sparse and growth slows down. But, on the other side, if we express love, brain networks will become thicker. What a very insightful piece of knowledge! Keeping her safety in mind, we let her play whatever she likes. We talk to her all the time. And let her play with flour as we cook. She creates different shapes and gets happy while playing,” says Renuka proudly.
“At home, we can also use the most readily available items like toys, no expensive toys are required. We tell her games at home using a powder box, oil bottle, steel cup, spoon in different ways, and I think this is why she is so active. Anganwadi tai often applauds me my for my passion to learn different play activities for my grandchildren. She says, 'Renuka never gets bored and quickly understand everything (especially child care). Moreover, she pays attention to everything that her grandaughters tells her’ .”
“I want to keep my grandchildren healthy and smart, and I will try my utmost best to achieve so. I always inspire my family members to play and create a fun and exciting home environment, keeping my granddaughter's life happier and healthier. We all have felt a change within us,” concludes Renuka with a smile.
Photographs by Lokesh Tamagire. Courtesy Unicef India.