Their other complaint was that they don’t get benefits such as paid leave, PF, no security, etc. The AWC timings met that they didn’t even have time to go and see doctors during free consultation hours and had to pay huge amounts to doctors for private consultation. They observed that there were 2 demands that would need to be looked into (1) a move from man-day to salary employment (2) and he facility of paid leave and medical leave. They articulated a need to be unionised – something that would help redress their problems.
DAY 2: Visit to Umreh and Sunipur (Bari)
On Day 2 we visited two villages (Umreh and Sunipur) located about 35 kms from Dhaulpur and 5-6 km from Bari, a town housing the ICDS Project Office.
Umreh is a compact village with 3 Anganwadi centres of its own. We visited two of them. Most people in Umreh seemed to be employed in agriculture – the women typically worked on the farms as labourers, many owned some land.
The first Anganwadi centre we visited was located at the edge of one part of the village overlooking the fields. We had to negotiate carefully the rather muddy and slushy approach, which was full of dung and the buffaloes who were responsible for it, something that seemed to be the distinguishing feature of Umreh itself. The AWC itself was reasonably well kept – the structure, built by the Government specifically for the ICDS, was in need of some repair, which the AWW (Munni Devi) said was to be undertaken soon with funds from the World Bank. Different slogans relating to the importance of nutrition to women and children etc. were written on the walls of the Centre graffiti-style.
Munni Devi, the AWW of this centre for over 14 years, seemed conscientious, competent and genuinely interested in the running of the programme. She not only had all the registers up-to-date in a credible sort of way, she was able to recall names of children and particular instances of illness with ease. For instance, while mentioning that occurrence of severe malnutrition was rare in the village she said the only instance was that of a boy who contracted pneumonia as a result of which he lost 1 kilo in less than a month (she had referred & accompanied him to the PHC).