The Weekend Leader - This small tribal town used puppetry & social media to beat Covid-19

This small tribal town used puppetry & social media to beat Covid-19



Dungarpur, a tribal dominated district, is silently shooing away the dreadful coronavirus from its periphery by merging simple traditional methods with modern means to spread awareness about COVID-19, using puppet shows and pictorial stories, says District Collector Kanaram. So much so that the state health department now wants to replicate it elsewhere.

Kanaram added that all five COVID-19 positive patients in this district have tested negative and are undergoing quarantine as advised by medical team since the last six days.

There were five cases of COVID-19 in Dungarpur, four from a family and one other person.

In March, a man and his son rode a motorbike from Indore and came to Dungarpur in Aspur village. On March 25, a day after the Lockdown1.0 came into in the country they reached their home. The two complained of breathlessness the next day. Their samples tested positive for Covid-19.

The administration had to literally run on its toes to find their contacts. Curfew was clamped in one kilometre periphery and samples of their contacts were taken. Then the father of the man also tested positive a few days later eventually infecting three generations of the same family.

The man's brother's son (11) also tested positive and there were questions raised if corona spread can be checked in this district where people stay close knit and if social distancing can be at all followed. The administration was also worried due to the high density of tribal population in this belt.

Hence, we preferred adopting traditional methods which were merged with modern means to make each and every person aware of precautions to be taken during COVID-19 epidemic spread, said district collector adding that as the district lies on the Gujarat borders, challenges were multiplied because there were chances of people crossing the borders and going in and out of the district.

The traditional methods of puppet shows and chitra katha were invoked to help out in the crisis.

The package included a form of "puppet show and e-chitrakatha where the dialogues were recorded in the local Wagadi dialect. The aim was to spread the message to maximum local people.

A complete video series was prepared keeping in mind the students who were staying back in home during lockdown. The writer of the series was Alok Sharma, working as a teacher in Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya in Dungarpur. He wrote an interesting script to spread awareness on symptoms and prevention from the coronavirus.

The series also presented the advisories to be followed during crop harvest in fields, at home and while going out about social distancing.

This innovative model was praised all across and eventually, it was also released in Hindi language and shared on different social media handles.

Also, the Information and Broadcasting ministry's regional outreach bureau shared it on its official Twitter handle.

With these e-series, an attempt has been made to solve the curiosity and doubts of the common man in a simple and easy language with excellent dialogues, says Assistant Director Information and Public Relations Cherie Chaubisa. She says the Dungarpur system might be replicated by other districts.

The series informs on the spread of the coronavirus infection, its symptoms, prevention and treatment precautions for pregnant women etc. It also attempts to address the innate curiosities arising in the minds of people residing in rural areas. These promotional materials are being widely publicised on social media especially WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. A special WhatsApp group 'Dungarpur Satark Hai' has also been created. These efforts are getting widely appreciation and the basic objective of making them seems to be meaningful, she told IANS. IANS

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