MUZZAFARNAGAR, Uttar Pradesh, India – Over the past four years, Nadeem has been a permanent fixture at the polio booths during the polio rounds in Kandhla block of Muzzafarnagar.
The 16-year-old initially became a part of the polio Bulawa Toli. Over a period of time he has been able to gain the confidence of parents to bring their children to the booth. At the booth he is always very attentive and stops each under-five child to check their fingers for marking.
Whatever it takes, he never allows unvaccinated child under the age of five to pass his booth.
Local SMNet community mobilization coordinator (CMC), Abida Rani, says that Nadeem’s commendable commitment to the programme does not just end with the booth day activity.
“When I go out to do my interpersonal communication during the rounds, Nadeem accompanies me. He is a great asset during the house-to-house activities with team No. 71 as he knows the number of children in each house and informs the team accordingly,” adds Rani.
During the rounds in this area even Medical Officers and other monitors look for Nadeem as it is easier for them to track the team through him.
Nadeem is suffering from autism and is unable to articulate why he tags along with the team.
Nadeem the Special Influencer
SMNet has always been appreciative of his support and had introduced Nadeem as a "Special Influencer" to the community and religious leaders at the ‘Influencer’s appreciation event’.
He was honoured in the presence of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. P.K. Jain, the Shahar Qazi Janab Zaheer Alam Sahab, Shahar Mufti Zulfiqar Ali, other government officials and the community. The event was attended by 175 people from across Muzzafarnagar, including 150 influencers,
Nadeem’s father Naeem at first was not confident that his son would be of any help as he is not like other children. However, Nadeem’s commitment to the polio programme and his introduction to the community as a “Special Influence” makes Naeem proud.
Ikram, Ballu Aadti, Parveen and Zahid, the other key influencers of the Nai Basti area are inspired by the dedication, commitment and the loyalty Nadeem shows for his work.
They strongly feel that even with his limited understanding of other things, Nadeem’s loyalty to work of eradicating polio is both commendable and inspiring.