BABY DEVI

Anganwadi Worker

She sings the praises of the Nand Ghars, “with its infusion of fun-filled learning, critical for children to look upon school and education as something that is friendly, welcoming, soft …. not hard. “

There are times when you meet someone who seems distinctly overqualified for the job they are doing, not merely because of the qualifications they hold, but also in their bearing, in their lazy dismissal of questions posed by others who should know better.

Baby Devi is one of those rare Anganwadi workers who seems to have something good going for her. Her father, a former Indian Railways employee, had studied only up to the 5th standard. His steady job in ‘track maintenance’ was secure and living in Jassai village he and his wife brought up four sons and two daughters, all of whom are well placed in society, except for the eldest who, unfortunately, has passed on. The three remaining brothers, two of whom are teachers, and one a police constable bear testimony to the value of parents stressing the importance of education. Baby Devi’s sister, Anshi Devi, alone stopped going to school after passing her 10th standard, which is surprising as she is the youngest, younger than Baby Devi by one year. Anshi Devi is a ASHA worker in another Anganwadi.

Baby Devi who went on to graduate with a BA and later a B Ed harbours no desire to get a teaching position like her brothers. She is intent on bringing up her only son, now 15 years old and is in the 9th standard in Mayur School, one of the better schools in Barmer district, requiring potential students to clear an entrance exam before they are admitted.

Any more sons or daughters planned for the future?

“No”, she says emphatically. “No! There can be no chance of that,” she kills that questions with a sly, triumphant smile.

She was not one of those unfortunate girls to have been betrothed at an early age – 20 years. Her marriage, thankfully, turned out to be with someone who also values education and who practices as an advocate.

Baby Devi is an Anganwadi worker because she wants to be one, because she says she can contribute positively in her work and at the same time ensure that her son is focused on his studies. She feels she may not be able to shower as much attention on him if she were to become a teacher or take up some other job.

She sings the praises of the Nand Ghars, “with its infusion of fun-filled learning, critical for children to look upon school and education as something that is friendly, welcoming, soft …. not hard. “

And although she freely admits that the Nand Ghars will have a far greater impact over time, “making learning and imparting education easier” she asserts what is immediately discernible is that children who go to the Nand Ghars are seen to be able to “count to more numbers, their knowledge of the alphabet is greater, their drawing skills are higher, and most importantly, their manners are superior to other children.”

The words of a BA, B Ed, the wife of an advocate, the mother of a son who goes to one of the best schools in Barmer and someone who haschosen to work as an Anganwadi worker in a Nand Ghar cannot be doubted.