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Bindi Bottoms
Anita Sudhir Kalamve Anganwadi helper, cook, Pune

"There are times, if I’m late, that the children of my anganwadi call me from their parents’ phones and ask me why I’m not here yet. It is so heartening to hear their voices asking me to get here as soon as possible.

Many of us anganwadi workers have to double up as domestic help because we don’t always get paid on time. So I have to work as a cook in the morning before the anganwadi, and also in the evening after I’m done with my other errands. After the children go home, I conduct visits to the houses of the children who have not come to the anganwadi for a long time.

The children in my anganwadi are all between the ages of two and three, but the older children who now go to school also come to the anganwadi the days they aren’t in school. On some days, it is difficult to manage 15–20 children, but on most days, they listen to me and do as I say.

Sometimes, it can be really exhausting to take care of so many active children and meet the expectations of their parents. But I really enjoy my job. It’s a delight to watch them sing nursery rhymes, and most of them are so intelligent. Their parents insist that they learn English, so I try to teach them English nursery rhymes.

Every now and then, I find it more difficult to deal with the parents than with the children. Today, I saw that one of the children had marks all over her body, so I told her mother to take her to a doctor. But her mother said she’ll first go to the temple and offer a coconut to God. I tried to convince her to seek medical help, but I’m not sure she will listen to me. ”


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