In what can be considered a feather in the cap of Tinsukia district in Assam, anganwadi worker, Hiralaxmi Baruah has received the National Anganwadi Worker Award (2017-18) for her exceptional efforts and achievements in the area of child development.
The award recognized her efforts towards encouraging children (especially girl children) to attend the anganwadi centre regularly; in ensuring that the handwashing facilities at the centre are functional and used daily; and for supporting hygiene promotion activities and events within the community, according to an official communiqué from the district administration.
After convergence of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare to children under 6 years of age and their mothers) with Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), the first handwashing unit in Tinsukia was set up in Hiralaxmi’s anganwadi centre and she has been maintaining it over the years successfully.
As far as the impact of the anganwadi’s services is concerned, children attending the anganwadi centre are now aware of the basics of personal hygiene and proper WASH activities; and the resulting behavior change is visible.
Since 2017, the Mission directorate has initiated such efforts, effectively implementing the same in Tinsukia. Further, most of the anganwadi workers are trained on key messages of WASH and they have in turn sensitized the community on the linkages between WASH and nutrition.
In addition, the district administration had started an initiative called Jilikoni meaning glittering to bring about ‘a bright shine’ and smile to the faces of the children in the anganwadi centres. The main objectives of the initiative are: utilization of transparent roofs to provide natural light; creating child friendly ambience by making rooms that are colourful and attractive with wall paintings; provision of small chairs and tables; maintaining hygiene and swachhata; and implementing the ‘grow own food initiative’ that features a small kitchen garden within the anganwadi centre to provide food to the children straight from the garden.
Hiralaxmi Baruah’s Anganwadi Centre is one of the anganwadi centres rejunevated under Jilikoni initiative.