Written by Anshla Benny
This is a case story of a truly inspiring woman, our Arogya Sakhi, Mansi (name changed). She is an Arogya Sakhi from Washim district of Maharashtra where our project is underway. The reason that I first interviewed her was that she had decided to pursue her higher education and was currently in her second year of MSW course (Masters in Social work) which she is doing from Shree Ramrao Sarnaik Samajkarya Mahavidyalaya, Washim which is affiliated with the Sant Gadge Baba University, Amravati. She now has just 2 months of her course remaining and is working hard on her final Research thesis. Having just completed my social work degree and having gone through the painstaking yet completely rewarding task of producing a research thesis I instantly connected with the hardships she was facing. She exclaimed how her first draft of the tool was returned back with many changes by her guide who kept nitpicking and finding flaws with whatever she gave him. She also faced additional challenges as she did not have a computer and thus had to find a typist to type out her questionnaire in Marathi and every time changes were made to her draft she had to repeat this process all over again costing her time and money. But she was determined to work hard and fight these hardships as she knew the end result would be truly worth it.
However being a Masters student and an active Arogya Sakhi are just a few of the many roles that she plays. Mansi is also an ASHA worker of the village which is an equally demanding job. She is thus a complete health worker as she refers the patients to a doctor in case of any danger signs and she has additionally received the training of an Arogya Sakhi which helps her perform diagnostic tests on people of the village for a reasonable sum of money using the health kit that we have provided her. Thus she has started earning a modest amount from doing sugar, BP, heamoglobin tests on people of the village and is thus transforming in to a confident health entrepreneur. This is not all; she also works as a Prerika, which is a post like the ASHA but as the Prerika she is required to take classes with young girls in the village between the ages of 11-18 on topics of Maturity, Puberty, Changes undergone by the body etc.
She seemed like a busy woman who had her hands full with work and thus I was curious to know what prompted her to want to pursue her Master’s degree. Mansi answered enthusiastically that she had always enjoyed studying and she had the thirst for knowledge but post marriage she did not have the motivation for pursuing it. However she attributes her taking this step also to the Arogya Sakhi Home Based Care Project. She explains how she felt inspired by the young project officers of ARMMAN who were training the Arogya Sakhis to conduct diagnostic tests and Mansi felt that in any case she was involved in so much social work be it her role as an ASHA,
Arogya Sakhi or Prerika, that it would be much better if she could pursue her Masters in Social work course and join an NGO and become a Project Officer as well. This way she could get more exposure and at the same time continue doing good work for the people which gave her a lot of joy. This heartwarming insight made me realize the kind of impact that young project officers like us have on the women in rural areas who draw inspiration from young spirited women and are ready to put behind gender barriers and social restrictions to realize their dreams and aspirations.
The Arogya Sakhi Home Based Care Project has been an inspiration to her in more ways than one. The topic of her Research thesis is also inspired by her work as an Arogya Sakhi. Her Research Topic is, “To study the opinion of beneficiaries of the Arogya Sakhi Home Based Care Project.” This is a Quantitative research and she going to study 60 beneficiaries for the same. Her questionnaire involves questions related to voice calls, animations and Home based care.
All this work that she does aside she owns a bangle shop as well which does roaring business during weddings and festive season. She also runs a beauty parlour from her house and does facials, waxing, cleansing, children’s haircuts and bleach for which she did a government recognized beautician course from a polytechnic college. Now she has a very loyal clientele of young women and adolescent girls who want to take care of themselves.
I was overwhelmed by all the work she does and additionally she was single handedly taking care of her home and children. She earns around Rs 12,000/- per month doing all this work. Her husband keeps telling her to stop working so much and he is also not supportive of her studies. But she is determined to study and get her Master’s degree. She aims to work in an NGO after her MSW and hopes to continue working for the people in the village.
Mansi is a truly inspirational woman who believes in pushing the boundaries and is a go getter. Her enterprising spirit is the driving force behind her will to learn and try new things. We at ARMMAN are thrilled that we have been resourceful in training her to be an Arogya Sakhi and a Health entrepreneur and at the same time have inspired her to realize her potential. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors and hope that our Arogya Sakhi follows her dreams and paves way for other women to follow her example and live up to their fullest potential.