My name is Shailja Patil and I was born and raised in Nepanagar (Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh). When I was in 6th grade, my father, who was a farmer, passed away. Since then my mother and elder brother ran the household and made sure my two siblings and I completed our education. My mother found employment as a teacher on contractual basis but the pay was irregular. To support her, my elder brother would often take daily wage jobs and somehow managed to make ends meet. We stuck together as a family and managed through those difficult times.
To support my family I started working as an Anganwadi Worker in 2010 while pursuing my Bachelors. Action Against Hunger had a malnutrition treatment project in Burhanpur during those days and I would often engage with their staff as an Anganwadi Worker. Through them, I found out that Masters in Social Work (MSW) could open up various opportunities for me in the social sector. With this in mind, I completed my MSW in 2014 and joined Action Against Hunger as a community mobilizer. I currently work in Dhar district (Madhya Pradesh) for the first 1000 days of life project.
I feel that a large part of our society still does not understand the hidden issues. To understand and implement solutions, we first need to acknowledge the issues plaguing our society. Many communities are not aware about the causes and effects of malnutrition. We are working with them to create awareness around it so that families can raise their children to be healthy. I believe what we are doing will help communities in the long run and I like doing this work.