Amravati: Amravati’s Melghat, lush green heaven in eastern Maharashtra, has been declared a tiger reserve. Unending hills and ravines dotted with jagged cliffs and steep climbs might sound heavenly to reside here but the reality is far from this! Their vicinity to nature makes the residents of Melghat’s Chikhaldara block familiar with diseases like dysentery, anaemia and malnutrition.
Along with this, women of Korku tribe which makes nearly 80 per cent of the inhabitants of this area, have been caught in the vicious cycle of child marriage, early pregnancy and caring for malnourished children.
Fortunately, a move extended towards breaking this cycle of distress and intergenerational malnutrition came when the APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Yojna was initiated in December 2015.
And one such practitioner of this Yojana is Sunita Meshram, an Anganwadi worker at Jaitadehi village who has spent the last couple of years meticulously executing it among the Korku women.
Under the scheme, every tribal woman in her third trimester of pregnancy is entitled to a free nutritious hot meal daily continuing for three months post-delivery so that the newborn is healthy.
Eatables covered in the menu include bhakri/roti, rice, pulses, green vegetables, jaggery, groundnut ladoos, boiled eggs/banana/nachni halwa, and soy milk.
Initially, Meshram herself used to prepare the protein-rich meal, and asked pregnant women and lactating mothers in the village to come and have a meal at the Anganwadi.
“But soon I realised neither did they understand why I wanted them to visit the Anganwadi to eat the nutritious food but oftentimes, they were simply unable to come to us,” she said.