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Rakesh Makkar: Breaking Gender Stereotype

Rakesh Kumar Makkar has been staying in Ward no 18 in Baliapata, since 2002. He got to know that there are many labourers staying in this Ward, who were facing lot of problems.

“I decided to help them by taking their issues to the Government and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and many people from the community helped me in taking this forward.”

“In 2018, an organisation, named CFAR reached, out to us in Baliapata. CFAR, through community meetings, has enlightened us on issues related to water and environment. We formed Community Management Committee with the objective of understanding the problems of the community and addressing them, through the Committee members. All the concerns and problems of the community are taken to the Single Window Forum Members to the Single Window and then linked with the Departments concerned. After becoming Single Window Forum Member, we have not only taken up the issues of our community, but are also involved in other social development activities, such as helping people during the difficult times such as cyclone, Fani.”

“There has been problem with the quality of water in our community and this is not specific only in our settlement but also in many other settlements. We have learnt water quality testing methods and are able to test the quality of water ourselves. After discussing the issue with Primal and taking help of CFAR, we were successful in getting a Water ATM installed in our settlement.”

“Now with the Coronavirus outbreak, we Single Window Forum Members- along with CFAR -are trying to reach out to people by creating awareness and helping them by providing dry ration, cooked food and sanitary kit. We are giving information concerning COVID-19. We are positive that we will fight this battle together with CFAR and will overcome this crisis.”

Helping People is What Makes Me Happy

Living in Barabhuja Basti for last 20 years Arati Jena has been helping her community in different ways. Popularly known as Kuni didi, she derives pleasure in helping her community. Following her passion of social work, she decided to take it forward in a structured way by forming a self-help group in 2014. This 15-member SHG has its own identity and even a bank account. Together, she has helped in setting up 13 SHGs in the nearby settlements of Jagamara Bhoi Sahi, Dumduma Bhoi Sahi, Dumduma Pana Sahi and Barabhuja.

Arati’s ambition took her to a bigger platform of Mahilla Arogya Samiti Area Level Federation and eventually in 2016 she formed Maa Barabhuja Mahilla Mahasangha.

Being the president of the MAS has enhanced her gamut of contribution to varied activities such as waste collection work in her ward every Sunday, managing for toilet subsidy for 35 households and helping 50 people in getting Aadhar card, 48 individuals obtaining ration card and assisting 130 people in opening bank account.

As a Swacchagrahi, Arati Jena has connected 10 households with municipal water supply. She has also been helping the elderly people in distress; her old age home started with 3 members and has now grown with 12 members.

Arati Jena has proven herself in helping the community during disaster and distress time, be it during the cyclone Fani or outbreak of pandemic. She, along with her other members, have provided dry and cooked food to the needy in the community in her ward, cleaned the slum, and even cleared the pathway by cutting the trees.

Journey with CFAR

Arati Jena’s association with CFAR started a year back but she has already been an integral part of all the initiatives taken in her Ward. Understanding the importance of menstrual hygiene management, she has been creating awareness on proper hygiene to adolescent girls and has helped in creating a Pad Bank in Jagamara Bhoi Sahi, for the poor and needy girls /woman, by procuring sanitary pads from BMC and also raising it from the community, voluntarily. Her dedication and continuous effort in helping people has set an example for the community.

COVID- 19 Emergency Response

Since the outbreak of Covid 19, Arati Jena has been creating awareness in four nearby settlements in her ward and also helping the most needy and vulnerable by supporting with dry food and cooked food. Till date, she has supported 150 persons every day for last 8 days and has provided dry ration to 65 households in her own capacity. She has been providing information on schemes and benefit to all the beneficiaries in her community.

Her support has also been seen in counseling the elderly people and addressing their fear for the pandemic. She has been creating a path for many others to follow and has proven herself to be a leader amidst all circumstances.

As rightly said by Mahatma Gandhi: “Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking”, SWF Members and MAS Members of “Maa Jageswari” have been playing an active role, with its 13 members in creating awareness, helping the Govt officials in distribution of dry ration, assisting the ASHA workers in door to door health check-ups and helping elderly people in getting the necessary requirement for them. The group formed in 2015, has been working for the community, be that in cleanliness drive, on creating health awareness, providing information on immunisation schedule for children or helping Govt in reaching out to the beneficiaries.. In this difficult time the community members are creating awareness on hand washing, maintaining social distance yet supporting each other in spite of the physical distance. They are alerting the authorities, if they observe COVID-19 symptoms in any person. They have been helping the elderly in getting their dry ration and pension by facilitating conveyance and escorting them to the venue. Their spirit and unity is setting an example for others to follow.

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

SWFMs and CMC Members extend their solidarity for health professionals

Single Window Forum members and Community Management Committee members have been a pillar of strength for the health professionals residing in Nirankari Nagar. In the time of growing fear of the pandemic, the SWFMs have been expressing solidarity with the health professionals and also offering them help including occasionally serving them homemade food or simply by being a friend to them. The nurse treating the person tested COVID-19 positive have been staying in Nirankari Nagar. She has tested negative, but her fear was empathised by the SWFMs. Being a medical staff, there is always more possibility of getting in contact with the deadly virus and knowing this threat the health workers put their lives into risk and work for others. ”There is more respect for the profession and for her now,” says Laxmipriya Lenka SWFM. Social distance is maintained but it has also been explained to the community that, the risk will get over after the quarantine period. The electrician working in the same clinic was taken to hospital by Bidulata Das CMC member, Prasant Swain another community leader for health check-up. We have more respect for the people associated with hospitals and we will give them all support and help they need, shared by both Bidulata Das and Prasant Swain.


Community designed posters on awareness on COVID-19. As many as 17 posters were made- mostly by children—
which were displayed in the common pathways for better visibility. These could catch attention of the community to act as a reminder to take preventive measures.

Connecting digitally:

Single Window Forum members are connected through Whatsapp platform, segregated based on different zones under the Municipal Corporation. All the updates of the community and grievances are addressed through the common forum. The grievance vary from getting essential WaSH services to addressing the fear of COVID-19.