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Odisha ASHA Worker Matilda Kullu Featured in Forbes India W-Power 2021 List

The 45-year-old has received the prestigious recognition for her work during the Coronavirus outbreak in Odisha.

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Matilda Kullu, an accredited social health activist (ASHA) from Odisha's Sundargarh, has made it to the Forbes India's W-Power 2021 list alongside noted banker and former State Bank of India (SBI) chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya and actress Sanya Malhotra besides others.

The 45-year-old has received the prestigious recognition for her work during the COVID-19 outbreak in Odisha.

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CM Patnaik Congratulates Matilda for Being Named on the Forbes List

Matilda has donned the hats of a counsellor and motivator for the people of Gargadbahal and other villages nearby under Baragaon block of Sundargarh since she was appointed as an ASHA here in 2005. She did everything she could to support people during the trying times of the pandemic and has made sure to save several precious lives, reported The New Indian Express.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has since congratulated Matilda for being named on the Forbes India W-Power 2021 list. "She represents thousands of dedicated COVID warriors who are at the forefront to save precious lives," the CM tweeted.

The local administration too has felicitated Matilda for the exceptional work she did to fight COVID-19.

Despite being infected by the coronavirus during the second wave, The New Indian Express reported that Matilda reported back to work within a fortnight and was not hesitant to put in additional hours of work.

Speaking to the publication, she said, that soon after the coronavirus outbreak, when the entire country was under lockdown, it was the duty of ASHAs like herself to identify COVID-19 patients at the earliest and get them treated at hospitals.

How the ASHA Debunked the Misconception of Black Magic in the Village

When Matilda first began working in the village 15 years ago, people there still believed in black magic and used to seek help from a tantrik (witch doctor) when they fell ill.

But over the years, Matilda and her colleagues took it upon themselves to debunk the misconception among people and have succeeded in making them understand the importance of medical care.

Thanks to their efforts, now everyone in the village visits the nearby hospital when they are sick.

Commenting on how they could bring about this positive change, Matilda said it was possible only because of the numerous awareness camps they conducted over the years about the ill effects of black magic. "People are less suspicious now, but it will take some more years to root out the practice," she said.

Besides creating awareness regarding health services among the villagers, she also assists in medical care for pregnant women and nursing mothers, immunisation, antenatal/postnatal check ups, sanitisation, administering polio vaccines among others, promoting hygiene, holding surveys and so on.

Matilda gets a meager wage of Rs 4,500 per month but that has never deterred her from working hard with utmost dedication. According to a report in India Today, Matilda steps out even in the middle of the night to provide medicines to women who experience labour pain. During the pandemic, after finishing her regular duties, she used to visit 50 to 60 houses everyday to conduct COVID-19 tests. She reportedly also made arrangements to transport elderly men and women to vaccination centres.

(With inputs from The New Indian Express and India Today.)

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