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Technology And Social Distancing: How Some Anganwadi Workers Coped With The COVID-19 Pandemic

Five Anganwadi workers explain how they used a mixture of technology and common sense while teaching new mothers the techniques and importance of breastfeeding their children

Poshan Desk | Feb 25, 2021
  • Phone Pe

  • Anganwadi worker Kavita Pachori
  • Village - Gadhejalgaon
  • Beat - Golatgaon,
  • Project- Aurangabad 1

Since March 2020, all Anganwadi Centers have been closed due to the outbreak of the Corona virus. It was not possible to visit breastfeeding mothers at such a time. But it was important to keep them informed about breastfeeding. So I contacted them through their mobile phones, which is the only available and appropriate resource in such a crisis. I learned about their all the difficulties with breastfeeding and guided them, and sent messages to some of them over the phone. Slowly other family members are also getting involved in the process.

Another approach we used is the WhatsApp video call. I observed the mother while breastfeeding through video calls and tried to alleviate the problems of breastfeeding. Now even on the day of vaccination, I am informing mothers about the importance breastfeeding.

Story by: Poonam Kawade, Lokesh Tamgire

  • Distance matters

  • Anganwadi worker- Kiran Sadashiv Joshi
  • Shekta no. 3
  • Beat – Golatgaon
  • Project- Aurangabad 1

During the Covid-19 crisis, I explained the importance of breastfeeding through home visits. My work area is a slum area and most of the people here don't even have a mobile phone. For this reason, I had no other option but to make the service available to them. So I went to their house and continued to provide all the information. The fear of corona is always there but keeping all the preventive measures in place without touching anything and maintaining physical distancing I am telling the importance of breastfeeding to mothers.

Story by: Poonam Kawade, Lokesh Tamgire

  • Hygiene matters

  • Anganwadi worker: - Pratibha Shinde
  • Anganwadi: - Asegaon Devi
  • Taluka: - Babhulgaon
  • District - Yavatmal

The outbreak of the coronavirus has changed the way we work. We are now sending messages on nutrition, health, and hygiene to parents' WhatsApp groups.

This change is for almost all Anganwadi Sevikas. But for me, this medium is not practically possible because my Anganwadi area is the Pardhi Beda in the village. People here don't even have a simple mobile, so you can't imagine a smartphone. Therefore, during this period also I continue to visit each and every house and give messages at home. The number of pregnant and lactating mothers in Pardhi Beda is high, they need to be informed about breastfeeding. I go to the house of such mothers. I take full preventive measures while visiting and interacting with them. I inform them of the proper method of breastfeeding at home and when and how often to breastfeed. While breastfeeding, I don't forget to tell them what hygiene is and how to maintain it. Many times I take the help of Anganwadi helper. Informing mothers who are uneducated, who understand the Marathi dialect to a lesser extent, and who do not understand the language of print materials, I have to use some appropriate methods like demonstration, showing pictures, telling stories and giving locally acceptable examples. In the Pardhi community, there is no one to guide a woman who becomes mother for the first time. At such times, I would go to the house and tell the mother how to hold the baby, how to breastfeed the baby, how to identify whether the baby is drinking adequate milk. These mothers rely on me for information related to child nutrition. So even though it is a difficult time, I decided to stand up to their expectation. To one such mother, I explained all of this in her delivery last month. The mother could not hold the baby. There was no one at home, no milk was coming. We visited the house and helped the mother and followed her every day for 3 days to help the baby and the mother to start breastfeeding successfully.

  • Groups and pictures

  • Anganwadi worker - Kalpana Sonawane
  • Village - Takli (Rajerai)
  • Taluka.- Khultabad
  • District – Aurangabad

Our Anganwadi Center had to be closed during this Covid-19. Yet we raised awareness in the village by informing our beneficiaries about corona in different ways. Due to this Covid-19, we were not able to visit the home of the new-born. But it was also important to inform the mothers about hygiene, breastfeeding, and proper care of the baby. Therefore, during survey of newly arrived families and people over 55 years of age in the village, whenever I came across the house of a breastfeeding mother, I showed them messages and posters on our mobile taking Adequate precautions for our safety. I also created a WhatsApp group of breastfeeding mothers. I also provide information on hygiene, proper breastfeeding method, how often to breastfeed, diet to be taken by mothers, health through this WhatsApp group. And even when they come to collect Take Home Ration (THR), they are informed by keeping physical distance.

  • Posters and More

  • Anganwadi worker - Sunita Gaikwad
  • Village- Chincholi (Gaikwad Vasti)
  • Taluka - Khultabad
  • District – Aurangabad

Anganwadi Centre had to be closed from March 2020 due to coronavirus. Therefore, I have to ask and share information about children and the information to be given to their parents through mobile. As before, we no longer hold meetings with mothers. But it is important to inform pregnant and lactating mothers. So I tell some of the lactating mothers who live next door to me about hygiene, nutrition, health, breastfeeding, and proper care of the baby by maintaining a proper physical distance. And I send messages and posters through the WhatsApp group to breastfeeding mothers who are on the farm or who have gone for childbirth in their maternal place. Also, when mothers come to collect Take Home Ration or baby kits in Anganwadi centre, through posters I inform them regarding appropriate way of breastfeeding, the importance of soft-touch and playing with the baby while breastfeeding.

(Courtesy- UNICEF India)