The most important and valuable asset of any institution or organisation as I would believe, are the skilled volunteers or employees who are compassionate towards their work.
The Pragathi Mitras are the Field Coordinators in our organisation who spread awareness among people in rural areas. They are resourceful and ready to be at service, whatever the challenge they may face in the process.
These women include ASHA workers, ANMs and housewives who came forward to volunteer for a minimum remuneration with the organisation. They are the strongest work force for Pragathi Welfare Society. They play an important role and have an equally high responsibility of leading the program. The team is trained on different aspects of General Health and Hygiene. Their main agenda is to give awareness sessions on (SMILES) Sanitation – Mother and Childcare – Immunisation – Livelihood – Education and Screening along with Sneha Program which is about menstrual hygiene.
The most significant goal for them is to impact 1 lakh women by the year 2020 set as their target and they are slowly but effectively moving towards it. They have faced many hardships but overcoming those were the biggest achievements for them. People in the villages here are different in responding to such activities. They are relatively less cooperative when we approach them without any authorized reference. Only a few of them would turn up. Women come in huge numbers only when we ask ASHA workers of each village to gather them. Prior notice and authorization to conduct such awareness sessions are procured from District Collector directly, along with the required support of District Medial Health Officer (DMHO), Integrated Tribal Development Agency and other functional authorities concerned with rural development.
The dire need of awareness among the society, especially in health and hygiene, helped form a cadre of Pragathi Mitras and work extensively to eradicate diseases and ill health due to unhygienic practices. The team uses sophisticated methods in explaining the causes and reasons for adopting hygienic methods.
Pragathi Welfare Society has introduced many things as a part of employment generation for the people of Burgula and around. Apart from conducting awareness programs in the villages, the Pragathi Mitras are also trained in manufacturing sanitary napkins. All the machinery is procured to make good quality sanitary napkins which are packaged and distributed among women in villages, either as samples or participatory incentives during menstrual hygiene sessions.
They are also trained on CPR, although not at an advanced level but to perform it, if required. Pragathi Welfare Society along and Burgula PHC (Primary health centre) along with an organisation called UC who also work towards better health and immunisation, have been organizing medical camps at the PHC. The Pragathi Mitras would coordinate the activities in Burgula PHC and help with registration, checking blood pressure, weight and other details that are supposed to be taken from the patients or visitors who have come to get consultation from the doctors visiting PHC as a part of the medical camp. They sell the sanitary napkins to the women in need at subsidized rates on fourth Sunday of each month.
They also go to the Anganwadi Centers to verify the height and weight measurements of children, lactating mothers and pregnant women who avail the services provided to them. As a part of the Bharat Bachpan Program being organised by Pragathi Welfare Society, Pragathi Mitras go to the respective Anganwadi centres, take measurements, verify documents to know the health status and progress in their health post pregnancy. They also verify whether the people are getting their services as required and if they’re receiving their ration on time.
Pragathi Mitras are a support system to the community and have been playing an important role in giving adequate knowledge about protection from harmful diseases, ill-effects of not following a healthy diet, proper exercise, health care and more. Many a times, they have to go door to door and inform people to gather in order to conduct awareness sessions which is hard and time consuming. Sometimes, the villagers get confused and assume Pragathi Mitras to be doctors who have come to conduct a medical camp. Due to this, many instances have happened where people were rude or less cooperative. Sometimes, other family members, or the husband, restrict them from attending the sessions.
Sanitary pad distribution has been the toughest part in a few small villages where community members would make a ruckus to get the napkins without any discipline. They might think that they’ll lose an opportunity to get a free packet if they don’t pick it first …
It is commendable to organize such awareness sessions in villages with all these challenges and to manage spreading awareness to those in need. Their contribution to the society may not be huge but these passionate and hardworking women are the real heroes of this society.