Published: 18th May 2020
Four years ago, this 10-year-old worked to make her village open defecation free. Today, she's a Corona warrior
We spoke to Manasa, a 10-year-old from Kolar, who is spreading awareness on COVID-19. Every day, she sets out to the neighbourhood, teaching people around her the importance of washing hands
Despite Karnataka reporting 862 cases and around 31 deaths (as of May 12), the Kolar district, for the longest of time, has remained a green zone. A lot of factors have contributed towards keeping this district COVID-free and so have the contributions of a few brave Corona warriors. Among them, is 10-year-old Manasa. Every day, this sixth-grader sets out to the neighbourhood, teaching people around her the importance of washing hands and wearing a mask to help flatten the curve and stay safe from the deadly virus. "I mostly watch the news on TV to keep myself aware of what's happening around the world. I walk to all the houses in the neighbourhood wearing a mask and talk to them about the virus and why they must wear a mask, wash their hands, not spit in the open and maintain social distancing," she says.
The lockdown is definitely not easy on her and her family — her father, a daily-wage labourer and the sole breadwinner of the family, hasn't been to work in the past two months. "I hear my parents complain about unemployment and them not having enough money. We get free rations from the government and that is how we have been surviving," she states. But this hasn't stopped Manasa from doing her part. She is associated with the NGO Save The Children, as part of their project Samudaya Abhivruddhi, which aims to raise awareness on water, sanitation and hygiene in the household, community and school.
As part of this initiative, Manasa, along with her friends Meghna and Parisara, formed a group called the WASH - Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Committee to educate the villagers on the six steps of handwashing, personal health and hygiene and the ill effects of open defecation. But the committee had a rocky start. Manasa remembers how difficult it was to convince the people around her at first. “It’s difficult to change people’s behaviour but nothing is impossible provided we have the right intent to see the change. My home was my first target. Over time, I started to see changes in my own house. With that, It became much easier to convince others," she says. Today, Manasa's village Purahalli is open defecation free.