Clamorworld » In everyday life every one of us comes across various experiences, incidents which we either don’t share with anyone or share with family members and friends.
India is witnessing a radical transformation where highly qualified youngsters are giving up cushy jobs to make a difference in the lives of poor people in rural areas. To the people of Jawhar, a rural tribal hamlet in Thane, situated around 150 kilometers away from Mumbai, she is their own ‘Nagli Madam’, who has found an indigenous solution for infant malnutrition that has plagued the area for the last 50 years. In the last nine months, after Vandana Maurya shifted from New Delhi, quitting a flourishing career in a multinational law firm to the impoverished Jawahar, she has been attempting to bring in radical changes in the unhealthy food habits amongst the tribals here, one of the main reasons for the rise in malnutrition cases. She is also trying to find ways and means to pull them out of poverty, by finding a productive occupation in tune with the needs of the urban retail market. After working for nearly five years as a biotech researcher in private and government organisations, Vandana Maurya switched over to the IPR field when she got selected as a scientist by the department of science and technology. Family members initially ridiculed Vandana for deciding to quit a good career and venture into an uncertain world. They wanted me to focus on getting married instead of killing my prospect to find a good groom.
Even in the villages, people ask her what makes her take up hardships when she could have had a comfortable life. It was ironical that despite cultivating finger millet, one of the healthiest cereals, majority of the children in these villages were malnourished. So she decided to work on improving food habits and diet with finger millet which is readily available in Jawahar region.
Vandana is also working towards increasing their income by helping them launch value-added products and snacks with finger millet, which is rich in proteins, minerals and amino acids.
A powerhouse of nutrients, it also helps to fight anaemia, cut down cholesterol and diabetes. She has been training mothers and self-help groups on how to prepare a variety of dishes with finger millet.


Beside helping them improve the quality of food they eat and feed kids, Vandana is helping self-help groups to make snacks and ready-to-eat products with finger millet and sell it in nearby towns like Nasik and Thane.
She also organised Millet Food Festival in Jabalpur and Pune which received a good response. Vandana who has completed 9 months in the village is now working towards building a market linkage for the products. Some mothers have been diligently following her advice and diet that she has prescribed for kids. After the fellowship, Vandana plans to continue working in enhancing food and nutrition in villages. She hopes more people will come out of their comfort zones and contribute in small ways to help the needy and underprivileged. But I listened to my heart and don’t regret my decision, says 32-year-old Vandana lamenting over societal pressures. Simple dietary changes like making nutritious porridge and a variety of other tasty food items like laddos has made a difference,” says Vandana.
Traveling across four villages, Vandana with the support of NGO, BAIF has trained around 150 women. With the support of BIAF, she plans to train people on packaging and marketing the ready-to-eat products in the nearby markets. Leelavati, one of the women I trained was in tears when I handed over money after her group sold finger millet products,” says Vandana.
It is evident when Vandana checks the kids’ weight, height and other growth parameter every month. Even at this age her zest to learn and take notes on recipes and do hard work is just amazing. But being a nature lover, she is happy being close to nature, enjoying sun rise, star-lit skies, the most wonderful things which are missing in cities.


Once you live in the villages, you can live happily in any part of the world, says Vandana.
I was helping multinational companies who are already doing very well instead of helping the needy. She has conducted various awareness camps, meeting and training 15 self help groups in 4 villages of Jawhar – Nyahale, Jamsar, Dhanoshi and Chowk. It is negligence and ignorance about the value of their products that leads to malnourishment among kids. She also carries out surprise checks at homes to find out if the mothers are following the diet plan. The humility and gratitude they show wipes away the difficulties we face,” says Vandana who is living her dream everyday. Everyday there are new challenges, new opportunities for learning and it makes me feel closer to achieving my dream. I decided that I needed more satisfaction and that could come only from the social sector,” says Vandana.
We have been conducting many awareness camps on the nutritional value of finger millet in rural and urban areas.
After 5 years, I would like to start my own NGO and work with more rigour to ensure people in rural areas too have basic amenities in life,” says Vandana. We have received a positive feedback and they are lot of buyers for these products too,” says Vandana. The world is waiting to listen to your voice, the voice which has kept you suppressed so far.



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