Here are a few of them ...
IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
Jamghat has developed into a holistic child development organization that provides education, vocational training, health services, theater training, and emotional support to street children. To achieve its goals, Jamghat has instituted a variety of different projects such as full-time homes for children, theater and street plays, and the Night walks.
Asha for Education currently gives financial support to a 24-hour shelter that Jamghat runs in the Lado Sarai area of Delhi. Asha specifically funds uniforms, books, and tutors for the children in the shelter. Asha supports the cost of education of 10 girls, which includes, admission costs, stationing, books etc.
Full time homes
Aman and Anchal are full-time homes for street children. Aman supports up to 15 boys at one time, while Anchal houses 11 girls. Both provide the children with basic amenities, education, vocational training, theater training, counseling, and emotional support. Counselors, volunteers, and the Jamghat staff help the children deal with their past and when applicable, help them reconcile with their families.
Additionally, staying true to its artistic roots, Jamghat provides the children with training in music, dance, and theater. Jamghat feels it is important to cultivate the artistic potential within the children for their holistic development. Two other projects Jamghat has created are Aangan and Ekjut. Aangan is a daycare center that operates 6 days a week and takes up to 40 children per day. But unlike Aman and Anchal, Aangan is not a full time home and the children have to spend their nights on the street. Recognizing this issue, Jamghat aims to provide the children, for at least the majority of the day, a safe environment in which basic amenities, health services, and formal and non-formal education are found. Physicians from the Max India Foundation perform routine health-check ups every month, and three meals are provided at the day care. Non-formal education is also provided on a regular basis and children are often enrolled in local public schools.
Ekjut is a vocational training service that started in 2010. A trainer instructs the children on how to tailor and make jute products and encourages them to employ creativity and their innate artistic talent when making the products. Jamghat has installed Ekjut stalls in various schools and college fairs, which has resulted in Ekjut in working with corporates to create products for various events.
In addition to providing for the children directly, Jamghat also aims to raise awareness of homelessness issues. The Night walks and the theater plays are two programs through which this end is achieved. During the Night walks, Jamghat staff members lead a group of volunteers through the streets of Delhi and help distribute quilts to homeless individuals. Theater training is a way Jamghat executes one of its core ideas: cultivating the artistic potential within children as a way of enriching their lives. The plays allow the children to get in touch with their creative personalities and give them a sense of empowerment. Jamghat has in fact put on multiple stage productions, many of them led by the children themselves. Over the course of the last 10 years, Jamghat has made a tremendous positive impact on the lives of street children.
Organic Farming Initiative
With a vision of self-sustainability, Vikasana began an initiative of organic farming in 2009. A recognized organic farming expert, the project director, Mr. Vargees Cletas, has set up a farm in Duglapur village with support from AfE’s Work an Hour program. The idea was to develop a piece of land into an organic farm-cum-orchard and use the produce to support the nutritional & financial needs of the bridge school. The Work an Hour program was able to raise enough funds to acquire about 3-4 acres of land located next to a beautiful lake. Today, the bridge school building is also housed within the premises of this land. Unlike farm lands fed with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic farms are self sustained and in the long run, involve limited maintenance. The small piece of land, which is registered as an asset of Vikasana organization, is being used to grow vegetables and fruits. The bridge school family has acquired cattle for dairy supply and the children have their share of milk and other dairy products on a daily basis.
IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
The project admits between 25-30 children every year. The number of children being supported by AfE sponsored bridge school has not increased a whole lot but the organization has sought other means to increase the overall intake of needy children through other sources. The project has been a productive platform for AfE to seek internship opportunities for students studying in the U.S. and interested in learning about education of underprivileged kids in India. The community has provided significant support to Vikasana in their efforts to help the local needy children.
Nine-year-old Seetha is the daughter of daily wage laborers who tried to support their three children with a modest daily wage. Her family fell apart when Seetha’s mother stopped working after she was hospitalized due to acute back pain and her father became addicted to alcohol. The children were on the streets looking for menial jobs just to avail food. Seetha, being the eldest, stopped going to school and began fending for the family. However, having heard of Vikasana’s bridge school, her father put her in care of its project director and disappeared. Today, Seetha is happily living her life in the bridge school along with other boys & girls and receiving her mainstream education. Although she is away from her parents, she has embraced the bridge school environment and is performing very well – both academically and other activities.
Eight-year-old Venkatesh is the son of migratory workers who earned their daily wages by going from one plantation to another for harvesting areca nuts. His father was an alcoholic and would often quarrel with his wife on petty issues. Although, their two children managed to attend school during their early days, life took a bitter turn when their mother passed away from tuberculosis. Due to the negligence of their father, the children would skip school and spend their time playing on the streets. Venkatesh’s aunt was kind enough to take care of Venkatesh’s elder brother, Jayanth. At this time, Vikasana stepped in and admitted Venkatesh into the bridge school. Today, Venkatesh is enrolled in the nearby government school and leads a happy life in the bridge school environment.
It is important to acknowledge that the project is making decisive impact in the lives of many underprivileged children. Of equal importance is the effort of the organization to educate the parents through intervention sessions. The organization nourishes most of the children it admits for at least a year. When a child is ready to move back with her/his parents, Vikasana makes a conscious effort to educate the parents about their children’s future. The organization and its director, Mr. Cletas, are also invested in promoting and encouraging organic farming practice in the region. As residents of the bridge school, which is housed in the farmland, the children too are exposed to the ways and methods of farming and caring for farm animals. The caretakers take keen interest in encouraging children to explore the farmland and learn about harmonious co-existence with nature.
The model of using organic farming to support/sustain the needs of underprivileged children, although not new, is an attractive model. The Booth School of Business at University of Chicago, among others, is specifically studying the functioning of this model of Viksana and has communicated with the AfE project steward & project director in this regard. As part of future plans, the supporting Asha chapters and Vikasana are very keen to facilitate implementation of such models across other Asha projects.
– Raj Gosavi,
HOW HAS ASHA HELPED?
With modest help from Asha Toledo, of $1500, the first phase of project provided books, tables, chairs, sitting mats, black boards and water filters for school. Although some sort of building structure was used as school a better construction was achieved through help of government interventions which was only possible due to Asha’s continued efforts that acted as primer for the government support. Lack of electricity in these villages soon saw funding for solar lamps – the first solar lamps in couple of villages were funded by Asha Toledo, which encouraged local financial support for additional solar lamps for about 130 villages. Subsequently, a team of two doctors from Mumbai organized and conducted a medical camp for 700 people. Interactions between Asha Toledo and Arogyaseva team further continued which brought additional developments such as introduction of a computer for basic computer education, installations of two libraries and improved infrastructure at 5 schools.
The big-ticket budget item was supporting of the Balmitra Program which included food for kids and salaries for teachers and support staff.
A girl from Kodesagwadi, who migrated with her parents to brick factories for 5 months in a year, was very interested in education. She couldn’t read or write like children her age. In Khelwadi, teachers worked with her for two months to see her academic performance improve noticeably. Her family was initially very reluctant to search options for her to stay back for school while they migrated for work. However, after various efforts her parents were convinced to leave her at her grandmothers’ place instead of taking her with them. Today, she is very happy as she is able to continue her education without breaks.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LAST ONE-YEAR
- Khelwadi program was supported by Asha’s Work An Hour 2013 campaign.
- The enrollment in the school has increased as Khelwadi teachers ensure children’s regular attendance through improved method of teaching to keep children interested as well as making family members aware about the importance of education.
- The number of medical camps has increased from once a year to once every three months.
- Khelwadi: Many parents appreciated the efforts for Khelwadi and agreed that children became more vocal and expressive with the help of this program. Parents have also noted that children are seen taking initiative to go to school and children have gained confidence.
- NREGA: Villagers participated in the meetings conducted to create awareness of the act. They have started demanding work and preparing pressure groups to guarantee employment. Women, especially, expressed that they have received work under this act for the first time. The participation of villagers in Gramsabha has increased in all villages, especially women.
IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
- 1600 people benefited through NREGA related activities. 180 students through Balmitra and 120 students through Khelwadi program have benefited. The project serves at least 120 students in 4 schools.
- There has been a lot of appreciation and cooperation from villagers. An event called as Rojgar Din was organized by the Villagers of Hirve, in Ghanwal Grampanchayat, with the support of Asha Toledo. More than 250 villagers and government officers were present for the program inaugurated by the Hon. Collector, Mr. Velars Sir of Thane District. Programs like this helped villagers to obtain employment in their village and reduced migration to cities.
- Three different training programs were organized for the youth members after which, they begun working in their own villages for effective implementation of all schemes, especially NREGA.
- The root cause of malnutrition among children was the villagers’ lack of agricultural knowledge, which was addressed by providing agricultural guidance by an expert to educate farmers on improving their farming efficiency as well as methods of increasing income through Agri-base and animal husbandry.
- The efforts of volunteers on this project prompted media attention and government appreciation resulting in additional funds for construction of school building and drilling of bore wells for access to water.
- Through systematic assistance from Pragati Pratishthan, the Palanaghar Project addressed malnourishment among children and pregnant mothers.
Villagers in the Jambhoolmatha hamlet were demanding work through informal means, which didn’t yield results. Arogyaseva conducted meetings and awareness camps in this hamlet and despite villagers’ lack of self-confidence, Arogyaseva educated them on demanding their rights directly from appropriate authorities. Villagers found this method to be effective and continue to use these methods and obtain employment in their own villages.
FUTURE PLANS FOR THE PROJECT
From the present situation, where Khelwadi is being conducted in 4 schools, the plan is to expand it to 20 schools in the next 3 years and to the whole Mokhada block in the next 5 years. This expansion will benefit a total of 3000 students by the end of 5 years.