Shila Goala, an ASHA worker was buried neck deep in work during Covid when she was faced with a peculiar problem. She came across a teenage victim of a sexual offence and her intellectually-disabled mother. Shila had questions which her conscience alone could answer. She listened to her heart and brought the teenager and her mother home. She took care of them to the best of her ability. The ASHA was never shy of seeking help from her neighbours, relatives, and her health colleagues. After a few months, the teenager gave birth to a baby. Shila was now in a different world.
Bringing all her experience into play, she nurtured the mother and her new-born son back to health, while facing the challenge of the girl’s mother at the same time. This unsung act did not go unnoticed.
The Assam Government realising her dedication to humanity chose her as an Asom Gaurav. A reticent Shila who works around the Joboka Tea Estate, says, “I have been an ASHA worker since 2006. I have met different people on different occasions. The experience, too, has been variegated. However, the time during Covid was an exceptional challenge and even in that this episode was a very rare one for all of us. I took care of her pregnancy. She was merely 13. The challenges during her postpartum stage were different. But within the ambit of medical regulations, we managed. Thanks to my relatives, neighbours and health colleagues, the mother and her son are doing fine. I am every grateful to all of them.”
“I have been an ASHA worker since 2006.
I have met different people on different
occasions. The experience, too, has been
variegated. However, the time during Covid
was an exceptional challenge and even in
that this episode was a very rare one for all of
us. I took care of her pregnancy.
She was merely 13…”
– Shila Gowala (Assam Gaurav)
When Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma on January 4 announced that Assam Government has decided to confer the highest state civilian award ‘Assam Baibhav’ on Mumbai-based medical practitioner Dr Tapan Saikia for his contribution towards cancer treatment, he also had heroes like Shila in his mind.
The Chief Minister announced the names of 21 recipients of ‘Assam Saurav and Assam Gaurav’ for the year 2022 besides Assam Baibhav. These awards constitute the State Civilian Award announced each year by the Assam Government.
Five personalities have been selected for the Assam Sourav award this year- Krishna Roy (Art & Culture- Mobile Theatre), Gilbertson Sangma (Sports – Football), Nayanmoni Saikia (Sports- Lawnball), Dr. Binoy Kumar Saikia (Science) and Dr. Sashidhar Phukan (Healthcare and Public Service).
Founder of the famed Abahan Theatre, Roy expressed his happiness at being chosen for the Asom Saurav award. “What this award has done is to increase my responsibility towards society. I am grateful to the people of Bajali and the mobile theatre community. I will continue to work with the same dedication in the days to come,” Rai told Asom Barta over phone.
A total of 15 personalities have been selected for the Assam Gourav award this year- Dhritimala Deka, Debajit Barman, Rustom Basumatary, Manje La, Binanda Hatibaruah, Atul Chandra Baruah, Kalyani Rajbonshi, Shila Gowala, Dr. Jogesh Deuri, Dr. Pankaj Lal Gogoi, Sarbeswar Basumatary, Manthang Hmar, Dr. Dhrubajyoti Sharma, Dayal Goswami and Dr. Syed Ifthikar Ahmed.
The Assam Vaibhav Award carries a cash prize of ₹ 5 lakh and the recipient can avail medical treatment throughout his life at Government expense. The obverse of the award is an image of the Jaapi along with the words “Assam Baibhav”, inscribed in Assamese script, on a Hollong tree (Dipterocarpus retusus) leaf. The Assam Saurav carries a cash prize of ₹ 4 lakh while the prize money is ₹ 3 lakh for the Assam Gaurav.