When the caste barrier was crossed

By Soumya Ranjan Mohanty, Block Coordinator 

While we all agree that nutrition is a basic human need, we must also acknowledge that the marginalized must get special attention. And there should be a focus on the populations who are deprived because of their “caste.” A community came together to cross this caste hurdle in Rayadihi village of Sambala Anganwadi Centre in Iswar Nagar GP of Pallahara block.

In August at an awareness meeting organized by APAA, the members came to know that Rayadihi tag village is divided into two hamlets – Munda Sahi and Juanga Sahi. Inhabitants of Munda Sahi are Munda tribes and Juanga in Juanga Sahi. Mundas belong to scheduled tribe category and Juangas belong to the scheduled caste category.  While the Mundas depend on agriculture, the Juangas prepare products using bamboo and sell it in the local market.

During a meeting with the Sambala Anganwadi worker (AWW) we came to know that that the Munda and Juanga communities do not work together and do not share cultural activity due to caste discrimination. She tried to convince both the communities to iron their differences so that 18 children who couldn’t access their HCM under Supplementary Nutrition Programme could be benefitted. But both the hamlets were not ready to take the responsibility of serving the Hot Cooked Meal for the 18 children aged 3-6 years. Both the communities were not ready to send their children to either of the other hamlets too. Hence, a consecutive meeting was fixed at Rayadihi primary school with the AWW taking the lead.

The meeting was not easy – there were a lot of debates and arguments from both the sides. But inspirational examples were cited by both the Lady Supervisor and the APAA members to sensitize the community. And eventually both the communities agreed to send their children to Rayadihi Primary School (a common and neutral place) and two volunteers from both the communities were initially selected for preparation of HCM for the beneficiaries. Ration and money was to be provided by AWW on a monthly basis.  

Since September 20, 2019, all the 18 children have been getting HCM and the caste hurdle in that village has been crossed.