Kumari GN Provides Nutrition with her Anganwadi Kitchen Garden
Having worked for more than 12 years in the Anganwadi of Anekal Taluk in Bengaluru, Kumari GN has had her own set of struggles in her earlier Anganwadi years, which further motivated her to develop an Anganwadi kitchen garden. This act not only served the community but also engaged the community workers to bring a new kind of knowledge to add to their learning experience.
Kumari GN is a dedicated Anganwadi Worker, who challenged herself to go that extra mile and contribute to the community in many ways. As a result, she was awarded the Plan India Impact Award 2021, which is an initiative of Plan India to honour the last mile champions. A certificate of merit came her way in the ‘Best Anganwadi Category’ to recognize her immense efforts. Her initiative ‘Nurturing Gardens to Nurture Children’, was chosen to be award-worthy because she transformed the barren land of her Anganwadi centre into a thriving Kitchen Garden. Additionally, her excellent rapport with the community served her well so that she was able to network with numerous stakeholders and also work as a nutritional consultant for her community parents.
Taking care of her Anganwadi Centre was in itself a heavy-duty job for Kumari GN. However, the children, who were already a part of her Anganwadi, were in close contact. She additionally took the initiative of learning how to maintain and grow her newly formed kitchen garden. Kumari worked with 164 children that were in the age group of 0-6years. Alongside, she took care of 13 pregnant women, 14 lactating mothers, and 40 adolescent girls who are enrolled in her Centre. Kumari identified 217 minority families in the community of Shanubhoganahalli who faced caste-based discrimination and ensured that these families were involved in all the Anganwadi activities and community work. With the support from United Way Bengaluru, she empowered women and adolescent girls from the community through focused group discussions and training on financial literacy.
However, the real challenge came when the kitchen garden aid came in form of seeds and a few tips on the soil. While she was hoping for some more, this challenge too was not here to stay for Kumari. She gathered her community and asked for tips and tricks. So overwhelmed were the community members by her extra efforts that they volunteered to come over and help her with tilling and composting for the garden plot. She mobilized 45-50 mothers who joined her in growing a kitchen garden. Her kitchen garden intervention not only reduced the incidence of malnutrition in the community but also helped people save a considerable amount, that otherwise would have been spent on expensive fruits and vegetables during the pandemic.
Kumari GN indeed turned out to be a woman of grit and determination when she actualized her nobility by helping her community during times of COVID-19. She went beyond her call of duty and helped 50 families with Hygiene Kits and Nutrition Kits for children. Moreover, she ensured the smooth education of 120 pre-school children by distributing Stationery Kits and sending learning materials through WhatsApp. She surveyed 550 households and conducted a door-to-door awareness campaign on COVID-appropriate behavior.
Kumari believes that ‘Kitchen Gardening’ is a simple yet effective solution to address the nutritional needs of children and their mothers, who are equally vulnerable. Kumari inspires them to keep going despite all the challenges and risks to create a kind of a society where she envisions everybody happy and healthy. She plans to continue her efforts to build a better Kitchen Garden as her intervention has helped to spread a strong message in the community and especially among children.