Real lives

Introduction

 

Julie’s commitment inspires others

© UNICEF/ 2008
Julie holding her letter of Appreciation

Aditya Malaviya

Bihar: It was an extremely hot day in May 2008 and not a soul stirred in the villages of Khagaria district of Bihar but the polio immunization team was busy on their rounds. The mop-up round targeting those who had not been vaccinated had been inaugurated by District Magistrate (DM), Khagaria, Mr. U. N. Thakur.
 
Thakur, a no-nonsense officer well known in the administrative circles and often looked at with great trepidation and foreboding by many, had made it his personal mission to see that the polio campaign in Khagaria district was executed efficiently and effectively. He set out to observe first-hand the on-going polio mop-up round with Civil Surgeon, Dr. U. C. Mishra, and UNICEF’s Sub-region Coordinator (SRC), Dr. Firoj Ashrat Khan. Travelling to the Public Health Centre (PHC) in Mansi he found, to his dismay, that most medical officers were not present. They were all ‘in the field’ to monitor the mop-up round, he was told.

Julie, mother of three - a daughter and two sons - and a psychology graduate with honours, has now become a celebrity and a source of inspiration for other teams.  “Not only have I been honoured, but my fellow anganwadi workers and other women vaccinators share the honour”.

Driving to the little-known village of Bora Kothi Musahari, Thakur was surprised to learn that almost 80 percent of the day’s activities had already been completed – and it was only 1.15 p.m.!  Deciding to go house-to-house he discovered that each house had been covered by the polio team. One name that cropped up with regularity was that of Julie, the local anganwadi (child welfare centre) worker.

Meeting Julie, Thakur asked her for the day’s activity plan and was pleasantly surprised to find that everything was meticulously up-to-date.  Fascinated, he asked her how she was able to finish the day’s task in half a day. Not only had the villagers come forward voluntarily with their children for the polio drops but had also helped with children whose parents were not at home, said Julie.  Asked whether she would go back home, “I will go to Pratirakshan Sthal to assist the team there administer polio drops to passers-by” came the prompt reply.

On 15 August – Independence Day, Julie was felicitated before a huge gathering of dignitaries, with a scroll of honour and a shawl, for her commitment to polio eradication.

Julie, mother of three - a daughter and two sons - and a psychology graduate with honours, has now become a celebrity and a source of inspiration for other teams. “God always supports and helps good people and good work. I am just happy to see all the children healthy, thanks to the encouragement I constantly receive from UNICEF and the government,” she says, quickly adding: “Not only have I been honoured, but my fellow anganwadi workers and other women vaccinators share the honour”.

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