Children streamed in every morning at around 9.30 (the cold kept many away, she said). She got them to exercise a bit – hands, fingers, and legs mainly. Then they washed up and sat down (on the covers of the murmura and baby mix bags) for a prayer song. Munni Devi accompanied them on the dholak –this seemed to be a routine since the children knew the song well. Then the younger ones pottered around in the centre with a few toys (including a plastic rocking “horse”; some clay toys had been bought by Munni Devi at her own expense) while the older ones played outside (“Bade walon ko bhaga dethe hain”, she explained). A football, evidently well-used (& with air pumped in), was what the older children played with outside. Lessons happened around a structured programme that Munni was given during her recent (early Jan) training in Jodhpur. That week they were doing flowers and plants. It also seemed that the children were taught numbers and alphabets since even as we entered we could see a blackboard that had multiplication tables on them.
The children then picked their bowls and sat down for the murmura snack. Murmura was served here everyday. Each child got a bowlful, which was eaten with obvious relish. Recently namkeen murmura has replaced meetha murmura. After that, the children washed their utensils and continued playing. Although the children typically leave by 1 pm or so, often Munni stays back till 3-4 pm filling out her registers etc. and this meant the children could stay that long. When Munni Devi is away (as she had been during the preceding days when she went on training) the AWH kept the centre open. She updated Munni Devi on the latter’s return.
The women (pregnant and nursing) come by every Monday when 6 days’ supply of Baby Mix or their own share of murmure is handed to them. By way of ensuring correctness, Munni Devi insists that the women sign when they take their share. We saw only a couple of thumbprints – most women had signed long hand in Hindi. Some parents we met subsequently corroborated this practice of Munni Devi.
Munni Devi observed that malnutrition of Grade III or worse was virtually absent. The only cases were those of some children whose status deteriorated consequent to a particular illness. Her growth charts suggested that too and she shared particular instances using them.