“नमस्ते दीदी, मेरा नाम रवनीत है| मै रायपुर से आयी हूं| मै आपसे लईका मन के पालन पोषण के बारे में बातचीत करना चाह्ती हु.| दीदी, आप दस मिनट का समय देंगी|”
This is how I introduce myself to the mothers in the villages I go to take interviews for my project. I take interviews of the caregivers of children aged 0-6 years to understand what activities they do with them at the home. My field day starts at 8 in the morning. After a 2 hour beautiful journey, I reach my field area. The journey is beautiful with lush green fields and rivers on either side of the road.
The next task is to find the mothers whose interviews are to be taken. So, we go to the Anganvaadis and kids take us to their homes.Sometimes if Mitanins are helpful our work gets easier, but if they do not support us, we have to navigate around the villages all by ourselves. Since every street looks the same, it is a challenge for me. But I am getting better at it. My work also includes taking weight and height of the children. The policy of Sam Dam Dand Bhed seems work well with them. Sometimes, we have to resort to bribing kids with chocolates just to get them to stand on weight machines. We stand them next to scales on the pretext of taking pictures on the camera so we can measure their height.
A field day is filled with many emotions. Smiling kids make you forget all your worries. And sometimes you are enraged because the mother is not responding well to the answers. You feel confused because you can’t seem to remember the house you located five minutes ago.You find households where everyone takes care of the child and then you find houses where parents are so busy in making ends meet they hardly care about their kids. Occasionally, you also encounter the educational charts hanging in the room and parents beaming with pride when they ask their kids to recite the poem. And at other times, you will find them complaining about how their kids do not study when they ask them to. At the end of the day, you are exhausted but also excited to come back next day. Every day on the field is an experience of its own.