Anganwadi Visit – A Child’s Perspective Continued from Part – 1
Why is everywhere dark around?
It did not occur to us in the first Anganwadi centre. We did not ask in the second centre. When we did in the third centre, we were told that Government runs Anganwadi centres on rent, which they keep to the minimum and pass on the responsibility of electricity to the landlord. Hence, there were actually no lights or fans in any of the three Anganwadi centres we visited, as the landlords had removed the electricity connection.
We are children; we spread happiness and cheer wherever we go. What do we do with this darkness all around us?
How do we go for poop?
All the three centres did have wash-room. But, you can imagine the chaos when there are 2-3 adults for 30 children who need assistance to visit the washroom. In fact, when we visited the first centre, what welcomed us was the sight of a 3-year-old girl doing pee outside the room, in the open.
So much for Swachh Bharat, we cannot let our PM down. We are not going to pee and poop like this.
What exactly is the time for us to play?
On paper, Anganwadi centres are open from 9 am to 4 pm. On the ground, children come at the time when food is disbursed or one-two hours prior to that. They take food and go back home unless their parents are too busy to come and pick them up. So, either it is jam-packed or there is mostly nobody around.
Is it a place to play or collect food and hang around for some time?
Where are the teachers?
I do not have any idea about the qualifications of Anganwadi in-charge so I will stay clear of it.
What was visible was 1-2 women remaining seated, as there was not much place to walk, and trying hard to control the situation of 25-30 children. One woman was deputed to take care of the food to avoid raids from the children. The result – a hapless lady surrounded by a crowd of hyperactive children. There are no teachers, as such, practically not possible.
Where do we sleep, if we want to?
We are children, below 4 years and we like our afternoon siesta. But here, there are no fans and no dedicated place to snooze; apart from children all around us.
We like to play and keep ourselves busy, but here there is actually no place for us to either play or rest. What are we supposed to be doing?
We were anyways looking at Anganwadi as a place for getting play-mates, so this point did not matter as such for us.
Pre-school education is a stated objective of Anganwadi, however, the practical aspects governing the set-up makes this completely redundant. One cannot expect anything in an adult:child ratio of 1:30 at worst or 1:15 at best.
No, we do not want to go to this place called Anganwadi and we do not want any of our fellow children to go either. It is not meant for children. We want a place to hop, skip, jump and run with fellow children and not a tiny and dingy room with no place to move about with children half our age.
The above is what O +ve and B +ve would have communicated to us if their language skills would have developed.
Yes, we did want to send our daughters to Anganwadi to expose them to the reality of India, but we developed cold feet and backed out of Anganwadi when we actually saw the reality ourselves.
Our search for finding play-mates for our daughters continues. Also to give them all-round exposure, what our country has to offer in its real diversity.
As far as Anganwadi is concerned – Whose children are they anyway? The government surely thinks and acts so.