There is a river known as Indrāvati, which flows through Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra. In parts, this river is densely populated with crocodiles.
Knowing that, would you attempt crossing this river on a makeshift boat? Or better yet, would you do this for seven years – day in and day out? I am sure the answer to both my questions will be no.
On numerous occasions, Sunita has encountered situations that made her feel that the end was near. Several times she also came face to face with wild animals. However, it is her sheer dedication and commitment to ensuring that medical help reaches the villagers that she can continue serving them without fear.
People like Sunita are the true heroes we must be in awe of.
Sunita Thakur, who is an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM), has been doing this daring act since 2012. She rows a canoe all by herself each day to cross crocodile-infested Indravati River to provide medical service to the people of Cherpal village.
“I am determined to do my work. I cross Indravati river using a makeshift boat on my own and walk across a thick forest to get to the village where I treat villagers. It is an 8-10 km journey that I cover on foot and by crossing the river every day,” said Sunita
Every day, Sunita starts out from her home at Barsur on her scooty to cover 10 km of her route till Muchnar Ghat. Thereafter, she sails across the river on a canoe as a bridge connecting both sides is yet to be constructed.
The toil for her does not end there; Sunita, carrying four to five kgs of medical kit, then travels through the Naxal stronghold jungles on foot to reach the village and provides door-to-door medical care.
Sunita says she was also captured by the Naxals once.
“I was helping the villagers in getting their smart card made, which is when a few Maoists came from the forest’s side and took me, hostage. They also took away two laptops and some important materials,” says Sunita, who hails from Bastar district.
The government has finally recognised her courageous character and has decided to reward her for her duty.
“She will be felicitated for her work in the coming Independence Day or Republic Day. It is because of staff members like Sunita that we are able to provide the medical facility in even the remotest parts of the state,” Dantewada District Collector Saurabh Kumar told.
He also said a bridge would soon be constructed across the river.