Samhida Prashant Patil belongs to a farmer family in the remote Embur village in the Palghar district of Maharashtra.
One of the first ones to arrive at the Anganwadi, Samhida’s 2-year-old son tugs at her saree pulling her to the Anganwadi every day. Drona loves coming to the Anganwadi. It is something he looks forward to every morning. He likes to eat here. He likes reciting rhymes, and picture-talk is one of his favourite activities. Seeing him describe objects in pictures confidently at such an early age gives me Joy and pride.
Earlier we would gather in the Zilla Parishad school, until one of the village residents gave his outhouse land for constructing an Anganwadi. A healthy meal, exposure to learning aids, and interaction with other children in a structured environment is what the villagers appreciate.
Often this is the only meal their children eat. The weekly meal plan ensures that they eat a balanced diet, rich in iron and protein. Drona regularly eats eggs and bananas here. Parents are also advised to follow a similar diet at home.
Besides, Drona has formed the habit of washing his hands before and after every meal. The Anganwadi has helped me understand the importance of hygiene and nutrition for one’s good health. The difference is visible in Drona’s growth,” says Samhida. He is an active and happy child. In addition, she says, the Anganwadi workers are receptive to the feedback she shares as a part of the Mata Samiti. As mothers we feel we are involved and can contribute to the future of our children, says a relieved Samhida.
The result is visible in an increase in the number of students attending the Anganwadi from 15 students, the number has more than doubled to 33 students in the last year. Moreover, students wait for the Anganwadi workers when they are late. Anganwadi worker Kalpana Prakash Wadkar is grateful for the two-year training programme she underwent as a part of the on-the-job teaching curriculum for Anganwadi workers.
Today, she is a lot more confident as a teacher, and aware of an array of engaging learning techniques for children. She can now tell stories, guide children to make things from bottle caps, empty containers, and bangles, and play games made from seeds and pebbles. There are only a few things more fulfilling than motherhood one of them is the Joy of teaching young children, she says.