The caste system in India is the paradigmatic ethnographic example of discrimination in India. The stigmatic intent still exists in society and occupied many institutions even after the advent of digital age. Sometimes, it creates a non-negotiable and stereotype base at the village level and discourages the motivated service providers and key educators in the ground.
The COVID-19 outbreak forced government to close all the institutions for a long period of time. The young children couldn't able to attend AWC on regular basis due to administrative restrictions and health hygiene protocol. Looking into the priority, Government started an initiative to engage Anganwadi workers with children at a home level in continuing the preschool transaction followed by new Arunima theme called 'Ghare Ghare Arunima'. It was truly nice step taken by Govt. of Odisha looking into the Pandemic situation. However, it was found through tele calling initiative of Save the Children that parents have objection against the Anganwadi worker for her irregular interaction and actions during the COVID19 period.
Mrs. Shantilata Dipa has been working as an AWW in Sundhipadar AWC since 20 years and she belongs to SC community. During the pandemic period, it was observed, she managed her preschool activities called 'Gaare Ghare Arunima' with only child of her own community repeatedly and shared the progress details with ICDS supervisors. The Academic Support Fellow, Mr Swagat Mishra extended his interest about the reason behind her hesitations and challenge. At last, the fact came in to light when the caste discrimination issues were revealed by Anganwadi Worker and she shared all the dynamics very politely. Because of her caste, the non-acceptance by the upper caste people was a critical challenge to lead preschool activities at home level. It always has been a practice at village level there not to eat food in centre or not send their child to the centre, then how could she deliver her expertise to a preschool child at home and centre.
The twist made in the issue under SCBR ELM at home and Gulmohar initiative. Mr. Swagat Mishra the Academic Support Fellow in Sundhipadar GP had taken a strong determination to resolve the issues. He created very attractive videos through the Anganwadi Worker and circulated in the household level. After a series of home visit, parents training and small group meetings Swagat managed community people to motivate and change their stereotype mindset on caste discrimination. At last, the Anganwadi got appropriate attention by the community and parents realised that the service she is giving to their child for their holistic development. This initiative also brought cheers in the face of Shantilata and she got the actual reward of her life which she is committed to continue for the best interest of children.