Young Sarpanch got rid of Covid in her village. Assuring villagers was it??
A leader is the one who leads his team from nowhere to where it has to be. Leaders don't just say, they show. They set an example, they stand tall in the time of crisis, they credit the team for the success and take responsibility when failure knocks the door. They clear apprehensions, instill faith and inculcate strength in their team. They make sure that the team walks collectively towards reaching a common destination. That is what a 21-year-old fresh graduate from Maharashtra has done. She is the true leader and this is not me saying it but the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray himself quoted. She is the young Sarpanch of Antroli and this story of hers presents before you, what youth can do. A village that not even had a chemist store is now standing as the COVID free village in Maharashtra just because of the measures taken by this fresh graduate.
In Love With Politics:
Komal Karpe studied at Solapur's Dayanand College and has pursued B.Sc Botany. She always wanted to become a politician. As soon as she finished her graduation, there was the imposition of lockdown. When elections were held in December, this young girl who was always interested in Politics wanted to contest. She always felt that her village had no facilities and that she should do something about it. Elections, she thought, is a door to work for her village. With the support of her family, she contested in the elections and won. "For the elections, I campaigned with my father as nobody in the village knew me. I was hesitant at first, but then it all went smoothly," she added. Thus, Antroli, a small village in Solapur district with a population of 2,298 has got a young and dynamic 21-year-old woman as its head.
A Responsible Leader:
The first wave of COVID-19 in which the village has got only two cases and where the recovery also was too quick was a sigh of relief to the villagers. However, the second wave posed challenges with over 80 cases and 15 deaths in March and April which left the villagers and the administration in distress. This is where Komal Karpe stepped in and shouldered the responsibility of driving the deadly disease off the village.
Komal started to become instrumental in curbing the spread of the virus. Under her leadership, they formed two teams Gram Suraksha Dal and Gram Dakshata Committee. While Gram Suraksha Dal had youngsters and elders of the village, Gram Dakshata Committee had gram panchayat members, self-help groups and administrative officers in the group. The two teams started to spread awareness of COVID-19 among the villagers. It was not easy to convince the villagers who would question the volunteers back when they were asked to do something. One tough situation that Komal and her teams faced is with respect to vaccination. When they urged the villagers to get vaccinated, they refused with fear and ignorance. "How do you know the vaccine is safe? Have you taken it? You are going to kill us," they questioned back. Komal decided to instil belief in the villagers and wanted to show them that vaccination is safe. For this, Komal got her father and grandmother vaccinated. Along with that, the teams as well as all the Gram Panchayat members got their family members vaccinated. This served as an example to the villagers driving away their fear. What a great initiative to convince the villagers! Isn't it?
Komal Karpe got the village disinfected twice and she has got the face masks and hand sanitisers distributed. She imposed a curfew for two weeks. Strict rules like levying fines were imposed on those who have violated the rules. "Rs.100 fine was imposed on those not wearing face masks, Rs 200 on those roaming unnecessarily and Rs 500 on the shopkeepers for keeping their shops open. We used to collect Rs 8000-9000 daily. After understanding the severity of the situation, the villagers then began following the guidelines", she said. Komal decided to use the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and converted Zilla Parishad schools into quarantine centres where the asymptomatic patients were treated. "The villagers have a fear in their mind about big hospitals in the cities. They think once admitted to the big hospitals, they won't come back. So, we began treating them in the village itself. This has also become possible due to the cooperation of the villagers and the administration's teamwork," Karpe said. The village administration under the able mentorship of Komal Karpe also made all the preparations to combat the third wave of COVID-19 which is expected to affect children severely.
Praises From The Chief Minister:
For making her village Covid free, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra appreciated this 21-year-old dynamic Sarpanch. When asked how she felt when she received the appreciation, she said that she didn't know about it while the CM was addressing as she was involved in work. She came to know about it only when she started to receive congratulatory messages and calls. "People started congratulating me via messages and calls. I was shocked. When I came home, I watched the address and felt really proud. It was more empowering as the deputy sarpanch and I (both women) came together and took decisions for the village and it proved to be beneficial," Karpe said.
We need more young and dynamic women leaders like Komal Karpe who can understand the pulse of the people passionately working for them.
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