#GROUNDSTORIES | Embarking on the Journey of Change

By Aditi Joshi, for #COVIDActionCollab

May 23, 2022

Kuchikur Area in Dharavi, Mumbai is home to migrants from all over India who take up work as Sewage Workers. The socio-economic and livelihood conditions give rise to health complexities at all different levels. “The sewage workers consume alcohol to work in the sewers and that results into violence against women, unwanted pregnancies, malnutrition and deficiancies among the women and children.”, says Mayuri Madhukar Shetty, a community mobilizer with Society for Nutrition, Education & Health Action (SNEHA). SNEHA has been a partner of the collaborative since its early days, working with us on social protection and facilitating  COVID vaccinations and awareness programmes .

Mayuri Tai describes a typical day at work as very goal oriented and filled with calls. “I work closely with about 500 women in the area and regularly follow-up with them on a monthly basis and I have 10 community volunteers who actively help me reach them. ”, says Mayuri. She says women face all types of challenges, need all types of information and the best part of her job is understanding the needs of the women, their children, their families, counseling them, guiding them correctly and guaranteeing them their rights. Being able to provide help in their times of need gives her immense happiness and keeps her going.

Mayuri Tai recounts how one of her beneficiaries, Nur Jahan Sheikh was paying for her ration in spite of being entitled to free ration through PDS. Mayuri Tai counseled her and said to her, “Chhodne ka nahi. Wo aapka haqq ka paisa hai!”(It is your money which you are entitled to, why leave it?!). Nur Jahan then informed the PDS distributor of her rights, took her share of the ration and also became the community volunteer and is now leading by example and only amplifying the impact. 

COVID-19 was a challenging time for community mobilizers like Mayuri Tai since Dharavi was under a very strict lockdown. However, always working on the field and being challenged continuously, they adapted rapidly to the changing situation, adopted technology, expanded the networks with adding in volunteers and started helping people with even more vigor. They received all the necessary COVID related awareness and vaccination information through the work #COVIDActionCollab and SNEHA had put together. The focus shifted to COVID testing and vaccinations. The vast network SNEHA had built in the area helped in getting the majority of people in the area vaccinated for the two doses. The challenge was huge as the people were uneducated, resistant and were comorbid due to their lifestyle and work. The targeted response and in-time action has helped them save lives in the area. Mayuri Tai and her team are now focused on getting the children vaccinated against COVID-19 and also immunized.

Mayuri Tai and the other community mobilizers associated with SNEHA, receive training, necessary information and technical support under the Social Protection Help Desk programme that we run. Mayuri Tai says, “I have been working for 8 years with SNEHA and it feels like a long but meaningful journey of change and fulfillment. I am not that educated, but I feel overwhelmed seeing the positive impact I am able to bring out and touch people’s lives.”


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COVIDActionCollab is not merely an aggregation of partners, but is an aggregation of capacities, through which we have developed key high impact initiatives. We have drawn upon our one year’s experience at CAC and engagement with our large constituency of partners to put together a menu of initiatives for funders/investors to support which will save lives and livelihoods, and enable vulnerable communities to 'bounce forward’. Support these initiatives to build resilient communities