Renu VasaveThese lines from Marvin Gaye’s song best define our NAARI of today. Breaking the glass ceiling and soaring high, whilst ensuring the well-being of everyone around her captures the gist of our “NAARI”. One such selfless human being with the strength of a healer, is an Anganwadi worker RenuVasave, who personifies generosity. An embodiment of inexhaustible will power,personal strength and compassion, her service to the rural communities of Maharashtra has been lauded far and wide. A front-line worker of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in India, Renu is amongst the 200,000 Anganwadi workers in Maharashtra who has become an inspiration for the entire community.

No help is too small
The 27-year-old Renu, an Anganwadi volunteer from the Chimalkhadi centre in Maharashtra has left no stone unturned to provide relief to the tribes of Akkalkuva and Dhadgaon in Nandurbar district. Under the ICDS programme, Anganwadi volunteers play a significant role in encouraging child growth and development. RenuVasavehas become a driver of social change and a catalyst for growing human compassion and community support for better care of young children and new mothers in these villages. Traditionally, the locals would come to the Chimalkhadi centre for resources and assessment and Renu would assist them, but the last few months have been particularly difficult. The COVID-19pandemic had left such a debilitating fear amongst the community that peoplerefrained from attending the Anganwadi centres, disrupting the supply of resources and material. A large number of the community members were left stranded in their villages with no food and water. Vasave realised the gravity of the situation and took it upon herself to reach out to the stranded community members in the far-flung areas of Chimalkhadi.

Where there is a will there’s a way
“There were days when I would work for over 18 hours flat”, recalls Renu. The villages that were in dire need of assistance had no easy approach and access, making her task all the more challenging. To reach these people with kilos and kilos of supplies, she had to cross the mighty Narmada River and brave the difficult terrains of the hills of Nandurba, leaving her to cover over 20 kilometres, one way. Vasavewould have chosen to fend for herself and her young family and not be bothered with helping the stranded community.But the intrinsic compassion to help those in need motivated her to undertake this gruelling journey, five days a week. Considering her lean physical frame, the physical effort she had to put in to row the boat is no mean feat. One needs courage to row across the Narmada for hours and cross the hills of Nandurba on foot. Her daily duties included bringing food and medicine supplies, examining children and young mothers, and all with enormous good cheer while the country remained under lockdown.

A benchmark for humanity
Renu elucidates, “COVID has surely caused a lot of distress among the rural communities and these have been very testing times, but we should remember to ensure that no one gets left out”. One key task for her has been educating the families about the perils and precautions associated with the pandemic. She goes knocking from door to door to explain the impact and dangers of the pandemic and shares the fears of the villagers. “Uncertainty can be very unsettling, but certainty helps you evaluate and make better decisions for you and your family”, says Renu.

This goes a long way to showcase what a commendable woman RenuVasave is and the incredible impact her kindness has had on the community. For the villagers, Renuis nothing short of an angel during the lockdown when they have been fighting for their survival. Her empathy has touched countless hearts and her courage has set an example for others to emulate her philosophy—nothing is impossible.

To live for others
The year 2019-20 has been very challenging for the world when mankind has been stretched to its very limits and endurance. In an apocalyptic situation, when people, governments and international organisations did not know how to deal with the pandemic and how it will unfold, RenuVasavehas stood tall to symbolise the kindness and grit of human spirit. Her act is a potent reminder that there is still a lot of good left in the world. “I understand that I have taken up quite a challenge, but nothing gives me more happiness than carrying out my duties as an Anganwadi worker with such responsibility”, she reflects with pride. Being a mother to a toddler can be quite a taxing responsibility, especially for someone like Renu who has taken up the responsibility of serving the community as her own. “I take her to work with me on some days, it’s quite an adventure”, she shares. Renu is grateful to her husband Ramesh Vasave who has encouraged and supported her mission, balancing her multiple roles as a wife, mother and an Anganwadi worker. An African proverb says that it takes an entire village to raise a child, but Renuhas chosen to look after children of the village on her own.

India Newssalutes the remarkable hero in RenuVasave and wishes to spread the message of how a single woman can change the world. There is nothing nobler than helping the ones in need and it can start with small steps and gestures because no help is too small.