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Empowering Rural Puri Through Vaccination – Reaching the Last Mile Through Drive and Determination

by Flarantxa Pereira

Sabita, an Anganwadi teacher, has been working in the Naruda village of Odisha’s Puri for the last 12 years. Sabita took on the role of a frontline worker during the outbreak of COVID-19 in the village in addition to her responsibilities of instructing pre-primary students. As a member of Gopabandhu Seva Parishad (GSP), a partner organisation of #COVIDActionCollab, she carries out door-to-door campaigns to educate the villagers on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination.

When the pandemic hit the village, the people were not equipped to deal with its impact. However, the training sessions facilitated by Gopabandhu Seva Parishad (GPS) with the support of COVIDActionCollab (CAC) empowered many individuals, such as Sabita, to reach out to the villagers and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination.

Sumanta Kumar Raut, another member of the village has played a key role in fostering unity among the villagers, mobilising them and disseminating awareness on COVID-19. He shared that due to the lockdown, the marketplace (Mandi) was closed and as a result, the local farmers suffered significant losses. Raut mobilised the village’s youth to come up with solutions to address this problem and successfully facilitated the sale of locally grown produce, thereby helping the farmers meet their daily requirements. Currently, he is collaborating with community volunteers from Gopabandhu Seva Parishad (GSP) and aspires to bring about long-lasting and effective solutions for the challenges faced by the village’s farmers.

With the timely intervention and support by CAC, Gopabandhu Seva Parishad (GSP) has been able to play a key role in directing the efforts and drive of individuals such as Sabita and Sumanta towards ensuring comprehensive vaccine coverage in their village. Their concerted efforts resulted in an 80% vaccination rate, enabling the community to return to their normal activities. The commitment and determination demonstrated by these individuals, in conjunction with the collaborative and community-driven efforts of GSP and its volunteers, emphasise the crucial role of collective action in overcoming challenges and supporting the most vulnerable in navigating crises with resilience.