Friday, 23 January 2015

Silent creation of Dr.Pawan

By: Ramakrishna Prasad

Here is a story by Ramakrishna Prasad where the writer has reflected about a silent creator Dr. Pawan who is working as a changer against some social drawbacks. The article has been published already on VYASA VALLUVAR on 1/08/2015. But our group of editors selected the article for republish in favor of our visitors.The article is as follows:
 Silent changers

 With 35 Rupees, You Could Buy A Popcorn Or Recharge Your Mobile. He Chose To Save Lives.

When Dr. Pawan found out about the unhygienic living conditions in Gadchiroli, Maharasthra, he created a hand-washing device in just Rs.35 that has been saving the lives of the villagers. Not only this, he involved people of all age groups in his wonderful initiative through interesting activities. Find out more about his device and how he made it possible.

In 2008, Dr. Pawan was one of the seven students selected for a two-year fellowship programme at Nirman’s SEARCH (Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health), in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra. The programme encourages students to work in areas affecting rural communities like water management and NRGA schemes, and being a physician, Dr. Pawan chose to work in the health sector.

Living in the community, he realised that there were several diseases persisting in the village, those that could be prevented by merely drinking clean water or paying more attention to cleanliness. The fact that diarrhea was the second largest contributor to infant mortality got him thinking. Here was a disease that could be easily diagnosed, prevented and treated; yet so many children were dying from it. An act as simple as washing hands could save so many lives!

It was at this juncture, he heard about the Tippy Tap concept introduced in New Zealand. The idea simply involved a few sticks, a string and a soap to set up a low-cost hand-washing device. And then, Nirmal, the robust Indian washing device, was born. He took up his Nirmal device and with the help of school children set it up in the primary school of Kudakwahi village. This ensured that the kids had a sense of ownership towards the device. In a way, he says the kids co-developed the device as they kept giving suggestions to improve its design.

At a cost of 35 rupees, Pawan set up the community’s first hand washing device (with soap being the only recurrent cost). But this would not suffice. For sustained usage of the device, he knew that behavioral change was necessary. After observing the way the kids played, he taught them a simple game where kids would boo the other children if their hands were dirty and shout ‘yay’ to the kids who did wash their hands. And mere hand washing would not suffice, so the young doctor even managed to teach them the WHO guidelines for hand-washing. No, he did not show them a power-point presentation with required steps. Instead, he taught a fun Marathi song that would incorporate all the WHO steps for a proper hand-wash. The gibberish song involved fighting between hands, cleaning the belly of a fish, tiny bells and so on, each being a step in the hand-washing routine.

Apart from diarrheal deaths, usage of tobacco was also high in the community. He reveals, “I found that even two-year old kids were using tobacco.” Once again, he had to shake them up to reality. This time, most of his target groups were troublesome teenagers. Have you tried advising a teenager? It never works, really. So, Pawan did not tell them to stop using tobacco. Instead, he roped them in to play the ultimate Frisbee tournament. That’s right. He just added a simple clause; you shouldn’t use tobacco while playing Frisbee. This new game gave the teenagers a new-found pride and also gave them a sense of belonging that teenagers normally yearn for. And there, unknowingly, the kids began to give up their addiction to tobacco.

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