October 22, 2021 12:25:35 pm
It was on October 15 that, along with two ASHA workers and an ANM, Narendra Kumawat, 25, reached the Kalbeliyon ka dera, a settlement of snake charmers, in Nagelav village under Ajmer’s Pisangan block to vaccinate the locals.
Narendra, hired as a Covid Health Assistant (CHA) by the Rajasthan government, and the others, reached the home of one Kamla. “When we reached, she hesitated and started asking us who will be responsible for her death if she dies post vaccination. She said that the government is paying us to vaccinate people, and that she wants it in writing the name of the person to be held accountable for her death,” said Kumawat.
Kamla then went inside and got a pitara (box). “I understood what it was for. So I started recording it on my mobile. Expectedly, she opened the box and it had a snake; she then started threatening us with it and said that she can bewitch everyone,” says Kumawat.
In the video which went viral, Kamla, who is wearing a traditional attire in mustard colour and a red odhni, is seen holding a snake in a box in her right hand while kids and other family members look on.
Kumawat then turned off the camera and the team tried to reason with her. “After much persuasion, she and her family were convinced and we administered them the vaccine,” he said.
However, this is not the first time Kumawat faced resistance from locals. “Many a times they abuse us. Some others say that we get paid for vaccination and that they should too for being vaccinated. The educated usually don’t have a problem. Some uneducated ones, and especially the older lot, say that the government is hell bent on killing people, on controlling the population. Some say that it will make you impotent…” Nagendra said.
But that’s just one of the worries for Kumawat. He has been working as a CHA for over four months now and CHA’s are supposed to get at least Rs 7,900 per month. “But till date, no CHA has received their salary,” he says.
Meanwhile, the work goes on, “We administer the vaccines as they arrive. As a CHA, my main tasks are vaccination, survey and online entry.” And when he is waiting for vaccines to arrive, he works at Nagelav PHC as a staff nurse.
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