I am... Devi N.P: Anganwadi Teacher

May 16, 2014 06:15 pm | Updated 06:15 pm IST - Kozhikode:

“I have been an anganwadi teacher for the past 36 years and was set to retire this year but the retirement age was raised recently, so I continue here. I don’t know any other job and this is what I have done all my life. After my SSLC, I went for the four-month long Integrated Child Development Programme in Thrissur and started working as an anganwadi teacher in 1978. I have been with this school near Nadakkav called Pavizham (No: 83) for a long while now.

Those days the anganwadi used to be packed with children. I remember the first few batches had 50-70 children. I have taught an entire generation rhymes and songs and told them stories. It is heart-warming to know that they remember me even today; they invite me for their wedding and other functions. Some of the parents were so sad to know I might be retiring and were jubilant when I told them I am going to continue for three more years. But I feel sad when I see the number of children dwindling. Now most parents look at the anganwadi as a place they could send their children before they formally enter play school. Since most families have become double-income, parents can afford an English-medium school for children and they do that.

The children come here at 9.30 a.m. and we welcome them in. Since this anganwadi is close to the beach, the children coming here are mostly from the coastal areas. They are given snacks like boiled chana and other health food. By 12.30 p.m., we serve them lunch after which they take a nap. An evening snack follows at 3 p.m. and the children disperse by 3.30 p.m.

The anganwadi is also the hub for many other activities. Vaccination camps are held here, so too counselling for adolescents and welfare programmes for the aged. Pregnant women and new born children are given care, including food and medicines. Awareness classes are also held for expectant mothers. So when such programmes are held I pass on the information in the neighbourhood. Sometimes, I would have to go and call people twice or thrice and then they would start trickling in for awareness programmes and camps. We also have to be aware of the different welfare initiatives in place as forms and applications are often given out of the anganwadi.

Every year we also have to conduct a population survey in the region, recording births, deaths, adults, children, women, physically disabled etc. So I am busy with that work now. If I had retired, I would be left with a pension of Rs.500 which is not enough to buy anything these days. But continuing in service means I get Rs. 4,400 a month now.”

A column on the men and women who make Kozhikode what it is.

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