On any normal day, ASHA worker Sujata Mishra and Anganwadi worker Sabita Padhy of Ganjam would visit households in their areas and counsel pregnant and nursing women besides implementing the ICDS programme of Government.
But the times have changed since the coronavirus outbreak and today both Sujata and Sabita are Covid warriors who are responsible for raising awareness among people on the disease, keeping a tab on their health condition and conducting door-to-door surveys that have been necessitated due to a spike in positive cases. And for doing so, both the frontline workers have devised a unique way of drawing people's attention.
With a smile on their faces and song on their lips, both the women are generating awareness of the deadly disease and people are listening too. The women are penning new songs and slogans every week to educate people about the infection and the caution to be taken.
“Jadi Rahibara Achi Corona Thu Durei, Hata Dhoiba Bhulantu Nahi” (If you want to stay away from coronavirus, do not forget to wash your hands), croons Sujata of Kukudakhandi block. Every day, she leaves home at 6 am and sings Covid songs in front of houses to draw people’s attention, urging them to frequently wash their hands and cover their faces with cloth.
People, including children, enjoy her songs and lyrics. As the day progresses, she manages to hold such awareness drives in around two villages in the block. And in a week, she covers the entire Kukudakhandi block. "On average, I meet people of at least 30 households daily and sing to them songs on the importance of handwashing, wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance between two persons", says the ASHA worker who nurtured an interest in folk music since childhood.
In Odisha, ASHAs were engaged in door to door surveillance a month after the coronavirus outbreak and Sujata hasn’t taken a break ever since then. In Ganjam which reported the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases, the infection started soaring in May.
"That is when our responsibilities rose and we worked day in and out to keep a track of people with symptoms, migrants workers and people under isolation", says the worker. When 36 persons were found positive on a single day in Ankuspur village in the first week of May, Sujata single-handedly got all of them admitted to the designated Covid hospital.
Sabita, an Anganwadi worker of Gunthapada village in Aska block, too has taken to singing and urging people to stay safe from coronavirus. In scorching heat when people stay indoors, Sabita moves around the village singing songs and urging villagers to follow the Covid safety guidelines.
“People are dealing with this pandemic for the last seven months. We wanted to introduce an element of interest in the awareness drives through songs and slogans” she says. None of the two women have taken a day off in the last seven months.
“We don’t have a single day off because our job is to go door-to-door telling people the benefits of proper handwashing, adhering to social distances, and putting on masks. If we stop awareness and surveillance, they will stop taking the virus seriously,” she adds.