Popularly known as the gateway of western Assam, the historic township of Dhubri is often referred to as the ‘land of rivers’. Being surrounded by the river Brahmaputra and it’s tributary ‘mora’ (dead) Godadhar river by three sides, it is both ecstasy and agony for the dwellers of the land. The peripheries of Dhubri are mostly riverine and the hundreds of tributaries of both the rivers created thousands of braid-bars (locally known as ‘char’) because of meandering nature of these two rivers, especially Brahmaputra. For generations, these braid-bars became the habitats of the underprivileged population of Dhubri.
To reach the habitats at braid-bars to immunise the little dwellers of this land is the real challenge for the front line health workers. Practically no roads exist in these areas and boats are also not available. From the cold chain point, traversing merely a distance of 3-4 kilometres to reach the session sites often takes around 4-5 hours, apart from the return journey after completing the immunisation sessions. The only way to cross these water bodies either by feet or with a makeshift raft made by banana trees, often in very bad shape. Being the land of jute, sometimes the bundle of fresh jute plants floating in the water bodies to decompose become handy along with banana trees to make these rafts. During summer – the extremely humid subtropical climate – with an average temperature of 37-40 degree Celsius with around 90% humidity, makes the situation worse. During monsoon these landforms become inaccessible.
It is mentioned in Padma-Purana that in the bank of Godadhar, Netai Dhubuni – the washer-woman – with her magical power gave back the life of Lakhindar, the husband of Behula. People say that the name Dhubri derived after the name of Netai Dhubuni. Relating to this mythological incidence, it can be said that without creating an illusion but their relentless hard-work, these front line health workers are creating magic by reaching far-flung places of Assam, convincing & mobilising communities and saving thousands of innocent lives from the vaccine-preventable diseases.