APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India said, “Always think what you can give to society, and not what society can give you”. Keeping in mind these words of the former President, Shreya Singh Pundir, a young, agile and energetic girl of Labac tea estate, 25 km from here, has dedicated herself to the cause of humanity. Her mind is pregnant with creative and noble ideas with the vision to serve in particular the ignorant and not so educated women folk of tea gardens for amelioration of their socio-economic condition. To make better use of her vacation from Uppasala University in Sweden where she is pursuing her Ph.D course in cell and molecular biology, she organised an awareness camp on health and hygiene for women workers of Labac and Tarapore tea gardens recently.
The packed nautch ghar of Labac tea estate listened attentively to Shreya when she spoke in simple and lucid Hindi about the growing incidence of maternal mortality rate in the tea estates of Assam compared to anywhere else in the country. It was also so in case of infant mortality rate, a cause of serious concern. From her observations, she linked it with consumption of salted tea by tea tribe women. She explained how harmful it could be and lead to dreadful diseases. They have to abjure it not only for themselves but also for their offspring.
Shreya touched on yet another sensitive issue of menstrual hygiene and gave demonstration of how to use sanitary napkins, forsaking obsolete practices by rising above all inhibitions. She realised education and enlightenment alone can pull them out of worn out taboos. They were educated about the Right to Education for all as enshrined in 2009 Act which makes education compulsory. The women were also enlightened about the facilities provided by Assam Government for them, working in tea estates of the state.
Shreya was highly inspired by the overwhelming presence which further boosted up her morale to do more for the poor and downtrodden. In fact, as she said, “I got well connected with tea tribe women when I assisted Assam Rifle in holding a free medical camp at Labac in 2018”. She was further inspired by the volley of questions from the crowd of women about their concern for health and hygiene. “The huge turnout is an indication that change has to come in the behavioural attitude of women living in the midst of green tea bushes,” an optimistic Shreya pointed out. Daughter of a proud father Sanjeev Singh Pundir, manager of Labac tea estate, she looks forward to tie up with NGOs for more social works.
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