'Johiron joined me in 1980, when I was working in the upazila to raise awareness on birth control and reproductive health issues'
Johiron Beoa, a woman in her seventies, supplies medicines roaming around on her bicycle, a profession she once started to make ends meet for her family of five in Lalmonirhat.
Johiron had to support her daughter and three sons in Taluk Bargharia area of Aditmari upazila after her husband, Sahed Ali, died in 1973.
Following her spouse's death, she worked as a midwife at Kaliganj Hospital and was partly dependent on her late uncle, Shobahan, who was the Bhelabari union parishad chairman at the time.
In 1980, Johiron got basic training on midwifery by working alongside a family welfare assistant (FWA), who was employed as a full-time field staff in the upazila under the governments' family planning program.
The now retired FWA, Rehena Khatun, said: “Johiron joined me in 1980, when I was working in the upazila to raise awareness on birth control and reproductive health issues.
“At that time, there was government instructions to pair up with a local midwife while we worked. On the request of the late UP chairman, we hired Johiron. Later, the local midwives were laid off on a government order in 1995,” she added.
After Johiron’s job ended in 1995, she started selling medicines across the villages riding on her bicycle, which she does to this day. Her supplies include medicines for cold, headache, coughs and gastric problems.
On a visit to Johiron’s house, this correspondent found that her living with her youngest son’s family in a tin-roofed mud house, and spending leisure time with her granddaughter.
She is popularly known as ‘Nani’ (grandmother) in her locality. Scores of local villagers said they have bought different kinds of medicines, including veterinary drugs, from her.
Johiron says she enjoys her job very much and wishes to continue the work, as long as she has her strength.
Johiron’s youngest son, Torab Ali, commented: “We have tried to convince mom to stop cycling. She is a good cyclist and it has become her habit, but we fear that someday she will fall in an accident.”