This is an inspiring story of Pushpa and her fight against COVID-19 in Kesroli village. Kesroli has about 250 households with a mixed population of different castes doing agriculture and wage labour. Ibtada has been working in this village with SHG and girl’s education program through Taleemshala for many years. For the last 3 years, Ibtada is running a program with a focus on ensuring rights and entitlement in this village. Adhikar Sakhi Pushpa has been instrumental in helping women get the benefits of government schemes in Kesroli village. Her efforts have led to the timely distribution of PDS ration, MGNREGA work to women on regular basis, timely pension benefits to the eligible (elderly, widowed or physically challenged), the participation of women in Gram Sabha for preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan, etc.
Pushpa’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and help the needy in the village are the following:
Once the lockdown was announced, Pushpa started making people aware of the corona, precautions, and the need for social distancing and covered 110 families in the village. She discussed the need for physical distancing while harvesting wheat crop by going to the wheat fields. She also pasted posters in the village about the COVID-19 virus and precautions against it.
She has also marked round circles at a one-meter distance at shops and water tanks/hand pumps so that people observe physical distancing.
She also started preparing masks for her family and distributed 16 masks in the neighborhood. She has also mobilized and trained 13 other women in the village to stitch such masks for their family members and others.
She ensured that sanitization spray done by Panchayat is done properly and is done in all households in the village.
Menfolk used to gather at one place in the village to play cards. Pushpa talked to this group of 30 men and scolded them to observe social distancing for the safety and health of others as well. She threatened them from informing the police if they didn’t disperse and observe social distancing. They have stopped playing cards now in Kesroli
She has mobilized some of the community members to help the poor and needy in the village with ration kits. 12 such families have been supported.
She also facilitated the government-mandated PDS supply to 156 families at their doorsteps.
After the lockdown was announced, liquor shops were also closed. Sale of illegal liquor was started by some outsiders. She told them in no uncertain terms that she along with a group of women would go to the police station or inform them if the sale was not stopped immediately. In Kesroli, the sale of liquor has stopped completely. This has also resulted in a drastic reduction in domestic violence against women in the village.
Pushpa has been in regular touch with Panchayat representatives and officials, frontline health workers (ANM& ASHA) and Anganwadi worker so that government guidelines about COVID-19 and benefits announced to deal with this crisis reach to the people. She keeps discussing this pandemic and precautions with women, men, and even children of the village. There is a grudging admiration for her work from men who have also started to realize the seriousness of COVID-19 and its implication.