Case studies

Nitya’s Triumph: A Journey from Struggle to Hope in Bissamcuttack, Odisha

30 September, 2023
Written consent was received from all the persons portrayed in this story

Nestled in the verdant tranquillity of Bissamcuttack block in Odisha lies a community grappling with social marginalization, geographic isolation, and economic adversity. Life’s essentials—good health and nutrition—are elusive here, and the spectre of infant and child mortality looms large. Meet Nimabati Huika and JakisraoHuika, proud members of the Kandha community in Konabai village, Bissamcuttack Block. Theirs is a tale of relentless struggle. Nimabati’s education was curtailed at the fifth standard, and she entered into marriage as tradition dictated at the tender age of 17. Jakisrao’s educational journey halted in the seventh grade, a casualty of the economic constraints that shadowed their family. Nimabati and Jakisrao toiled as daily labourers to make ends meet, collecting precious forest resources.


Nimabati became pregnant at an early age. The burdens of early pregnancy, compounded by inadequate nutrition and backbreaking labour, thrust Nimabati into a high-risk category. Despite the diligent efforts of Frontline Workers (FLWs), her attendance at the Anganwadi Center (AWC) remained erratic. The intended lifeline of nutrition, the Take-Home Ration (THR), was often shared among hungry family members.


In the face of these daunting odds, Nimabati brought into the world—a daughter named Nitya, born at the CHC, Bissamcuttack. Nitya’s birth weight was a mere 2 kg, casting her into the ‘orange zone’ of malnutrition. Nimabati grappled with postpartum complications, and upon returning home, she had to resume work to support the family. Weak and without the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, baby Nitya confronted a barrage of health challenges.

Nitya’s path to recovery began when she was identified as a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) case during CINI’s social mapping initiatives, facilitated through Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) exercises, at 11 months. From that pivotal moment, Nitya and Nimabati embarked on a healing journey guided by CINI staff.


Nimabati attended sessions where she imbibed knowledge about Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), imprinted hygiene’s importance, embraced immunization’s significance, and appreciated the necessity of growth monitoring. The path to recovery required Nimabati to take regular lunch breaks, ensure her well-being, and visit the AWC for supervised feedings. She received a vital education in sanitation and hygiene practices to safeguard the preparation and handling of food.


Nitya’s journey towards improved nutrition was marked by remarkable progress. At 15 months old, she achieved a significant milestone, entering the coveted ‘green zone’ with a weight of 8.6 kg. However, there were challenges along the way, as Nitya briefly entered the ‘yellow zone’ in November 2022 for two consecutive months. Nevertheless, with unwavering support from CINI staff and AWW, she swiftly rebounded. By January 2023, Nitya weighed 9.3 kg, and this progress continued, with her consistently maintaining the ‘green zone’ status, weighing 9.8 kg as of March 2023. Through collective efforts and dedicated care, Nitya’s path to health remained positive.


Nitya’s triumphant journey underscores the urgent need to combat malnutrition, advocate for optimal IYCF practices, and champion adequate nutrition during pregnancy. Together, we can ensure that no child’s path is marred by the shadows of undernourishment, ushering them from struggle into the embrace of hope.