Fellowship: B. Sireesha

Project Brief: Legal Advising and Family Counseling to the members and public of MATC Societies founded by Timabktu Collective
Project Type: Fellowships (description)
Primary Focus: other (description)

Secondary Focus: other

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Princeton
Status: completed - requirements ended
Project Steward: Ravi Gangavarapu
Project Partner(s): Sireesha Maneri
Other Contacts: Sanjeev Ranganathan
Project Address: , c/o Timbaktu Collective, Chennakothapalli Field Office,,CK Palli Village,
Tel: 09440988575
Stewarding Chapter: Princeton
Mar 2012PrincetonUSD 5040
Jun 2011PrincetonUSD 5048
Apr 2010PrincetonUSD 4260
Jan 2009PrincetonUSD 4000
Dec 2007PrincetonINR 1
Dec 2007PrincetonUSD 4000

Total = $22348.0218

Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh is a backward district and classified as the 2nd most drought-prone district in the country. Agriculture is in a bad state with repeated crop failures and incidence of farmer suicides.
The status of women in Anantapur district is quite bad. Women lag behind in education, skills, ownership of assets/property, mobility, and are subjected to domestic violence which is taken for granted. Presence of domestic violence hurts welfare and progress of the children, families and the community. Changing this culture is a long process that will require widespread work through several avenues.

In such a situation, an institutional structure like the MACT (Mutually Aided Co-operative Thrift) Societies run by Timbaktu Collective that provide economical opportunities to women and family counseling/legal help and refuge in times of distress and crisis is very much needed. The MACTS have been providing these services to its members. There were 92 interventions undertaken during 2005-06 financial year, besides two major social actions by MATCS to help women members. Evidently, there is a dire need for legal and family counseling that can impact the well being of families. B. Sireesha, lawyer by profession, has been leading this effort with the support of the MATCS.

The situation requires people with training and field experience in law, counseling, and conflict resolution. There is a critical need to continue and expand these services and at the same time build a pool of legal and para-legal workers with the same skills to extend legal counseling and help to other areas in the district. Instead problems must be caught at an early stage. Availability of more full-time paralegals or counselors for discussions and guidance on an everyday basis also helps the situation.

However, the MACT Societies are transitioning to a model of self-sufficiency (outside funding will be stopped in 2007), and are unable to continue to provide full support for family and legal counseling to its women members in the immediate future. However, the societies are very clear about the value of the broader social services like the family counseling provided to the members and other public. So, during this transition period as the Societies stabilize it will be very useful to continue support the family and legal counseling by finding different avenues or support opputunities.
To continue to support legal advising and family counseling to the members and public of MACT Societies, and expand it to other parts of the district by providing fellowship to B. Sireesha. Another aspect is to train full-time legal workers.

The current practice is to involve or resolve after the situation has reached a flashpoint. Now, it is intended to continue, expand and improve the current services provided by the MACTS. This is achieved by visiting the field offices of each mandal every week to listen to the new cases that have come up, and decide the action to be taken in each case. It is planned to organize counseling sessions where appropriate with the participation of the involved parties, MACT Society functionaries and police where necessary, and mediate the discussions and drive them towards a satisfactory conclusion. It is planned to organize follow up meetings to make sure things are continuing on the right track. In more serious cases it is intended to work with members of Timbaktu Collective to initiate legal action or organize mass action to highlight heinous crimes.

Recently, the Timbaktu Collective has been given responsibility under Lok Adalat by which it is authorized to deal with and dispose off local cases with support of the legal authorities. Sireesha’s continued involvement with the Collective will be helpful in this regard.


Legal and family counseling help women resolve family disputes and curb domestic violence. When this is coupled with economical uplift, it would contribute to the well-being of the families and communities. This provides a good environment for the children. Counseling is also expected to improve self-confidence of women, and counseling as a community activity creates a sense of solidarity among the women to work together to solve their problems. In consistently raising the issue of dowry, harassment and domestic violence we are eroding the prevailing culture that all these are acceptable.

The Timbaktu Collective is a registered voluntary organisation that was initiated in 1990, to work for sustainable development in the drought prone Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, India.