मैं करीब डेढ़ साल से छत्तीसगढ़ के आदिवासी बहुल क्षेत्र दंतेवाड़ा के सरकारी स्कूलों में काम कर रही हूँ| वैसे तो मैं मुख्यतः माध्यमिक स्कूलों के शिक्षकों और बच्चों के साथ काम करती हूँ परन्तु जब कभी भी मुझे माध्यमिक स्कूल से थोड़ा समय मिलता है तो मैं अपने माध्यमिक विद्यालय के एकदम समीप स्थित प्राथमिक विद्यालय के बच्चों के साथ कुछ गतिविधियाँ करने उनके स्कूल में चली जाती हूँ|
वैसे तो मैं मानती हूँ कि प्रत्येक बच्चा अपने आप में अनोखा होता है लेकिन फिर भी मैंने बच्चों के साथ काम करने के अपने अभी तक के अनुभव के आधार पर पाया कि मुझे जाने क्यों कुछ बच्चे अन्य बच्चों की तुलना में कुछ ज़्यादा ही आकर्षित करते हैं| ऐसा ही एक बच्चा है प्राथमिक स्कूल में कक्षा एक में पढ़ने वाला सुखलाल| मैं जब भी इस बच्चे की कक्षा में जाती हूँ तो वो मुझे वापस नहीं आने देता| सुखलाल हमेशा काफ़ी खुश रहता है और उसे जैसी एक धुन सी रहती है लिख कर चेक कराने की| कभी-कभी तो मुझे उसे लेकर चिंता भी होती है कि कहीं वो अपने किये हुए काम को एक वयस्क व्यक्ति से अप्रूव कराने का आदी न हो जाए| इसीलिए जब भी मैं उसे उसकी कॉपी कर उसका नाम लिख कर देती हूँ तो कोशिश यही करती हूँ कि वह खुद अपने लिखे हुए को जांचे| शुरुआत में सुखलाल अपने नाम के सभी अक्षर उलटे लिखता था परन्तु अब वो अपने नाम के सीधे अक्षर लिखना सीख गया है| सुखलाल को ऐसा लगता है कि मैं उससे अधिक जानती हूँ और उसे सिखाऊँगी| तो कक्षा के भीतर कुछ ऐसा होता है सुखलाल- छोटी छोटी चीज़ों के लिए मानो मुझपर आश्रित सा महसूस करता हुआ| कभी-कभी जब मैं माध्यमिक स्कूल में होती हूँ तो वो अपने स्कूल से माध्यमिक स्कूल तक अपनी कॉपी के साथ आ जाता है| और मुझसे कहता है, “मैम चेक कर दो|”
लेकिन बच्चों के साथ हमारा काम सिर्फ कक्षा के भीतर तक ही सीमित नहीं होता| हमें प्रत्येक बच्चे को समझने के लिए उसके साथ थोड़ा समय बिताना होता है| और उनके साथ कक्षा के बाहर समय बिताने के दौरान ही कुछ ऐसा होता है जो हमारे चेहरे पर मुस्कान ला देता है| ऐसा ही कुछ अनुभव मेरे साथ भी हुआ| एक बार मेरी माध्यमिक शाला के एक बच्चे के पैर में चोट लगने की वजह से काफी सूजन हो गयी| जड़ी-बूटियों के उपचार के बावजूद भी घाव भरने का नाम नहीं ले रहा था| मैंने यह ज़रूरी समझा कि एक बार बच्चे के माता-पिता से मिलकर उसे अस्पताल ले जाने के बारे में चर्चा करनी चाहिए| मुझे बच्चे का घर पता नहीं था तो मैंने उसके घर के पास रहने वाले कुछ बच्चों से बात की कि हम लंच के समय उसके घर जायेंगे| इन कुछ बच्चों के समूह में सुखलाल न शामिल हो ऐसा तो हो ही नहीं सकता था| वह खुद ब खुद बोला कि मैं भी चलूँगा मैम| तो इस प्रकार पांच बच्चों के साथ मैं उस बच्चे के घर चल पड़ी| इन पांच बच्चों में तीन सातवीं कक्षा के और दो प्राथमिक कक्षा के थे, उनमें से एक सुखलाल था| जिस रास्ते से होकर मुझे उस बच्चे के घर पहुंचना था वहां बीच में एक छोटा सा नाला था| बारिश का मौसम होने के कारण उस समय वह भरा हुआ था| अन्य बच्चे तो पहले ही इसे पार कर गये| सुखलाल मेरे एकदम आगे-आगे चल रहा था| नाले का पानी देखते ही मेरे मुँह से अनायास ही निकल गया, “अरे मैं तो इसे पार ही नहीं कर पाऊँगी|” यह सुनकर सुखलाल तुरंत बोला, “नहीं ले जायेगा मैम|” यह कहकर फ़टाफ़ट पूरा नाला पार करके उस पार खड़ा हो गया, मानो मुझे आश्वस्त करने के लिए दिखा रहा हो कि देखो ऐसे पार किया जाता है| मैं धीरे-धीरे चलने लगी और वह उस पर से मुझे देखता रहा, तब तक जब तक मैंने पूरा नाला पार नहीं कर लिया| इसके बाद रस्ते में एक और चीज़ आई जहाँ सुखलाल को खुद को मुझसे सुपीरियर साबित करने का मौका मिल गया| इस बार रास्ते में एक गड्ढा आया| ये गड्ढा इतना तो गहरा था कि इसे कूदकर ही पार किया जा सकता था| सुखलाल ने कूदकर इस गड्ढे को पार किया और वापस मुड़कर मुझे देखने लगा, मानो यह सुनिश्चित कर रहा हो कि कहीं मैं गड्ढा पार कर भी पाऊँगी या नहीं| मैंने उससे कहा, “देखो कर लिया मैंने पार, तुम्हें क्या लगा मैं नहीं कर पाऊँगी?|” यह सुनकर वह मुस्कुरा दिया| अब तक हम बच्चे के घर पहुँच चुके थे और चूंकि मुझे हल्बी(दंतेवाड़ा की क्षेत्रीय भाषा) नहीं आती थी तो मेरे साथ गए हुए माध्यमिक स्कूल के बच्चों ने ही बच्चे के माता-पिता से बात की और उनके कहा कि वे उसे लेकर अस्पताल जायें|
अब हमने वापस लौटना शुरू किया| एक बार फिर से हमें गड्ढा और पानी से भरा हुआ नाला पार करना था| सुखलाल पहले की तरह अभी भी मेरे आगे-आगे ही चल रहा था| इस बार रास्ते में जब फिर से नाला आया तो फटाफट उसे पार करके दूसरी ओर पहुंचकर वह हँसते हुए ज़ोर-ज़ोर से बोला, “ले जायेगा मैम, ले जायेगा|” मैंने कहा, “कोई बात नहीं, ले जाने दो| तुम तो हो ही मुझे बचाने के लिए|” यह सुनकर वह मुस्कुरा दिया| नदी पार करने के बाद वह मुझसे आसपास लगे हुए पेड़ों के नाम पूछने लगा, जैसे मन ही मन कह रहा हो, “हां कक्षा में तो बहुत परीक्षा लेती हो, अब बोलो?” उसे उन सभी पौधों के नाम पहले से ही पता थे और मुझे एक का भी नाम नहीं मालूम था|
मैं कह सकती हूँ कि शायद सुखलाल को उस दिन यह बात समझ में आई हो कि मैं सर्वगुण संपन्न या सर्वज्ञानी नहीं हूँ| ऐसे बहुत से काम होंगें जिन्हें शायद वह मुझसे बेहतर ढंग से कर पायेगा| शायद वह समझ सका हो कि यदि कुछ बातों के लिए वह मुझ पर आश्रित महसूस करता है तो मैं भी कई बातों के लिए बच्चों पर आश्रित रहती हूँ| चाहे वह किसी बच्चे के घर का रास्ता बताना हो, क्षेत्रीय भाषा में बच्चों के माता-पिता से बात करनी हो या स्थानीय पेड़-पौधों के नाम बताने हों, बहुत सारी बातें हैं जिनमें वे मेरी मदद करते हैं|
APU is that one place that changed my life in a very big way. I had read Economics before that at the number one college in the country. While everyone around me at that time was focused on getting the highest paying jobs at banks, I found myself disillusioned with the world…particularly the idea of development. I was looking to study development and came across APU very randomly. That day and after a very engaging interview (which was a LOT of fun), I got in! I joined in last and found a new world here altogether. The space created for open minded conversations, for learning was exactly what I was looking for. I engaged in different disciplines and renewed my love for writing but, with a desire to write that creates some impact. That has affected my writing till date. It was also here that the course Art and Experience with Kaustuv changed me. Until then, I believed with my whole being that I cannot draw or colour or paint. yes, interpretation of art was possible but, not creating them. Taking the course with Kaustuv changed my outlook towards art. I was always taught that there is good art and bad art, that there are rules to follow which I could not and hence, I could never make art. With this course I saw that I was neither praised for my work nor criticised. It was only shared how the instructor or my classmates interpreted it. Thats it! That time and today I am working as a full time artist – having had my first exhibition in 2016 as well. I am, of course, still learning and thinking of ways with which I could mix art with development but, then my journey has just begun!
Shivranjana Rathore [firstname.lastname@example.org]
By Dharamjeet Kumar (M A Development, 2012-14)
What are the qualities in a personality that can determine his ability to become an agent for social change?
My professor whose words inspired me – and I have been using those words as light whenever I find myself in darkness – once said: “A set of people who allow Ideas (love, truth, justice, social service, science, beauty, god etc.) and Social Collectives much larger than families (e.g., nation, community) to shape their existence, become their reason to be and to live; to be their guiding ideals and their fund of hope” (Prof. Balmurali Natrajan).
As we completed half of the Fellowship journey, AIF called for our Fellowship Midpoint Conference. Part of the conference involved field visits to a few development organizations working with the communities. I was a part of the group of Fellows interested in the Livelihoods Thematic Conference and were taken to SRIJAN, an organization working in Bundi and various other districts of Rajasthan. The exposure to the works of organization and the interaction with some of its staff left me enriched and further pushed my motivation level for my own project, which is based on community initiatives.
It was an opportunity to understand the nuances of a community-led intervention and seek answer for the doubts. Any major community initiative or a revolution has a leader with charisma. This charisma many times overcast the crucial role that few others have played with their lively involvement in the initiative. The success of such initiatives is driven by the sacrifices of these people, the firm trust on the idea of change – and they are keen to embrace the goal that the initiative is designed for. The field visits from the thematic conference offered the opportunity to meet some of those people who worked tirelessly from behind the stage.
“The belief that my struggles of today can lead to the empowerment of other women in the villages tomorrow, pushed me cross every hurdle raised by the society.” – Meera Bai
SRIJAN is one of the biggest development organizations working with communities in India. SRIJAN in the Bundi district of Rajasthan started its intervention in 2003 by promoting women self-help groups (SHGs) in the villages. Expansion of women SHGs was a difficult task while operating in a highly patriarchal society where women have been mostly confined in their houses. The intervention also required women to take command over various livelihood activities which demanded regular interaction with stakeholders like banks, local government officials, etc. Now it has been well received by the community and it appears to be well functioning. But it was not so easy in those initial days, as Meera Bai narrates her journey.
Meera Bai is one of the early members of one of the SHGs. She believed in the idea of change that SRIJAN endorsed through their intervention model. It was this trust that pushed her to move out of the house to mobilize women and take every step to ensure that SHGs are expanded and run efficiently. Initially she had to face a lot of resistance both from within the family and the larger society. But as she moved ahead with her motive, people joined and overtime, it took a shape of SHG movement in the villages around. With sufficient number of SHGs formation, it was the time to aggregate the SHGs into a cluster federation. She was elected as the secretary of the federation. With education only till grade 5th, she got herself well versed in managing accounts, giving presentations and interacting with every stakeholder related to her work while working as secretary of the federation. In 2011, the federation established Maitree, a dairy producing company. Started at a much smaller scale, Maitree’s worth today is about 15 million INR with more than 2500 shareholders from about 250 SHGs.
Another day at SRIJAN, we attended an event which was organised for the inauguration of newly formed SHG federation, where I got to meet Sushant Saurav. Sushant is working as a project associate at SRIJAN. Coincidentally, we were in the same batch of our master’s degree in Development at Azim Premji University and also, we come from the same state of Bihar. Soon after graduating he joined SRIJAN. That was in May and now it’s been almost eight months, he has been rigorously working to mobilize the SHGs into a federation. Busy in the work, he couldn’t find time to visit home all this while. Fortunately, we were there to witness the date on which the federation was officially formed. With a membership of about 3025 women, a SHG federation was formed in the Bansi cluster/panchayat. To celebrate this, the members of this federation came together to perform a rally. It was great to see the energy in this public demonstration, which was attended by more than 2000 women.
Originally posted @ http://www.globalhealthaction.net/index.php/gha/article/view/34140
Arjun* is a community health worker who has been working in a remote, hilly region in the state of Odisha, India, for the past 10 years. This region is primarily inhabited by indigenous communities, known as Adivasis, and has had relatively poorer health outcomes until the past decade, when the Government of India introduced several health system reforms to strengthen public health service delivery.
Arjun is addressing the tribal women during the ‘Village Health and Nutrition Day’ (a monthly outreach clinic) and demonstrating how to protect children from diarrhea, one of the most common diseases among children in the region and a leading cause of child mortality. Women are paying rapt attention as they listen to his messages. Arjun defies gender stereotypes through his sheer commitment to a profession which is otherwise dominated by women. His sincerity and dedication to the cause of improving the health of the community not only has earned the respect and trust of the village women but also the ‘Best Health Worker’ award from the government in recognition of his efforts.
The photograph was clicked by the first author as part of a study aiming to understand maternal and child health practices among an indigenous community in this region. The study involved, apart from interviewing the women, observations of outreach clinics and accompanying the health workers in their everyday work. Community health workers play an important role as an interface between the community and the health system. Women’s access to routine maternal health services, including antenatal care, family planning, and immunization, has reasonably increased with the regular holding of the outreach clinics in the village, although accessing emergency obstetric services continues to be a concern. For many of these Adivasi women, the outreach clinics and interactions with health workers provide a forum for systematic engagement with biomedicine and the state. The study was conducted from September, 2015 to January 2016 and was jointly supervised by the second and third authors.
Aswini Kumar Behera
Coordinator, Health and Nutrition Project Gram Vikas
Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, India
Faculty, Azim Premji University
Azim Premji University
Posted by Dharamjeet Kumar (email@example.com) on December 16th, 2016 in 2016-17, Clinton Fellowship Blog
Imagine this, a nice comfortable house with a backyard for some gardening. Then a bigger farm to produce enough for self-consumption as well as selling some to bear the living expenditure for rest of the year. But what if I say that each time you wake up in morning, you will find losing half a meter of land on a daily basis? Think how peaceful the sleep in the following night will be. This is the situation of Karatipar panchayat of Majuli. But the sleep here is still peaceful. Also, in general the land around the river bank is getting eroded at a fast rate in Majuli island. A man who lost about 25 bighas (1 bigha in Assam is equivalent to about 0.3 acre) of land from a total of 30 bighas in the last 10 years says: “During the peak rainy season when I return back to field from a day break, I find meters of my farm land has dissolved into water. While during the rainy season the erosion is highest, but everyday some part is being eroded”.
December is a special month for Majuli as it pays tribute to its beloved leader Sanjoy Ghosh (7 December 1959 – 4 July 1997) on his birth anniversary. 19 years ago while working for community empowerment in Majuli, he was abducted by ULFA (an insurgent group) and then we lost him forever. One of the best parts of my work here with the community is that I get to hear a lot of narratives of Sanjoy, which are just a treat for the ear. One common narrative that you will hear is that the Majuli would have been something else had he lived till today. People visualizes the leader in their own way while narrating. They talk about his unshaven beard, habit of one meal a day, etc. A person said Majuli got its name popular in world only after Sanjoy got killed here. In his small work duration in Majuli, which was a little more than a year, he was able to bring some significant development in this part. He mobilized huge volunteer labour contribution for successful conservation experimentation on a land stretch of about one and half kilometres using just the local knowledge of conservation. Community believes that It was this attempt that disgruntled the commanding lobby of contractor and involved in government’s conservation program that led to his abduction and death. There has been a huge public investment in the previous decade to protect the land, however, the outcome has been largely insignificant. Report suggest to layers of corruption in the conservation programs of Majuli (Corruption in Majuli projects, Uma corroborates, 2015). Majuli has lost more than 70% of its total area in the last century. The rate of erosion has only increased in the last couple of decades. The villagers still believes that the traditional practice of land conservation through the use of bamboos can still be instrumental. But it seems it is only possible if we have another Sanjoy in Majuli who can motivate and mobilize the community to take the conservation responsibility into their own hands.
Last month has been very eventful. With the help of students of social work coming from Kaziranga, a local university, I was a able to conduct in-depth participatory research in few of the villages to understand the need and the problems in these villages. Working with them as a team for almost a month helped me overcome the language barrier for some time. Land conservation is indeed the major need of the community here, but in lack of my competencies in conservation practice and also the legacy of Sanjoy’s leadership, I feel discouraged to initiate this in the beginning.
Weaving holds a important part in people’s living here. I, along with the community, decided to work for the development of handicraft business practiced in these villages. While researching the market, it was easily convincing that the handloom garments produced here have great potential. In many other districts of Assam, handloom is practiced as a major livelihood activity. It is a part of culture and heritage and one of the largest economic activities after agriculture in the state. With the involvement of a chain of middlemen, these products are not just being sold in the local market of Assam, but there is also in great demand in the international market. However, as the chain of middlemen is big, the price paid to the ultimate producers is much less than its selling price. Also, the scale of production happening in these villages is too low to have a regular trading partner. I met with few people who have been working with weavers in Assam and also with some big businessmen of handicrafts. They shared the biggest challenge of working in a place like Majuli is to get the people motivated to work for themselves. Being a flood prone area and also having a majority of the population poor, the people here have developed a habit of receiving things for free. During floods, they get some relief material from various organizations, and for the whole year they receive some food grains from the state’s public distribution scheme. This will be a challenge for next coming month, to get the people trust and motivate them to improve their livelihoods by themselves.
- Corruption In Majuli Projects, Uma Corroborates. (2015, December). Retrieved December 2016, from The Sentinel: http://www.sentinelassam.com/mainnews/story.php?sec=1&subsec=0&id=249929&dtP=2015-12-23&ppr=1#.WFOHGaIafDc
Originally Posted by Dharamjeet Kumar (firstname.lastname@example.org) on November 16th, 2016 in 2016-17, Clinton Fellowship Blog
I have lived in 14 states of India before coming to Assam and it was my first opportunity to enter into the north-east frontiers of the country. Assam is like an entrance to a group of states which follows a culture and possess natural heritage which is much different from the rest of the country. Serving as an entrance to a new world, Assam welcomes you with all warmth. Having lived in different other states, I have never experienced such kind of warmth and forthcoming nature in the communities.
I am placed with an NGO called North-East Affected Areas Development Society (NEADS) in Jorhat, Assam, in the north-east part of India. NEADS is involved in multiple domains of development. However, much of its resources are channeled on disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response. Assam is a flood affected state where flood is almost an annual phenomenon.
My host NGO offered me various projects to which I can contribute, however, they left it up to me to decide which one to start first. Using this freedom, I chose a much beautiful one of all their work site. I am beginning my work here on a river island called Majuli island. It’s the world biggest human inhabited river island surrounded by river Brahmaputra on one side and river Subansiri on the other. The rich diversity of communities inhabiting here along with dense green surrounding makes it one of the most beautiful places on the earth. However, with the beauty the nature also brings crisis in this area almost every year in the form of heavy floods. The flood carries serious consequences on people’s economy and health. Over the previous century the island has lost more than 70% of its total area due to regular erosion happening along the river banks.
The “Mishing community”, which is tribal community, constitutes a major population on this island. I discovered through various studies and also through interactions with them about their history, living patterns, livelihood, etc. Traditionally they used to live around the banks of the river. Fishing, cultivation and weaving were their major activities for their livelihood. They continue to do so, however, earning the livelihood with this has became only difficult with time. They say flood was never a curse then. It used to bring rich soil deposits in the banks and recharge the ground water. The scale of floods those times was also not very severe. They built their houses with bamboo on a height to be secure during floods. They continue to live in such houses even now. But the severity of floods is increasing every year. Now they prefer vacating their houses during peak floods as many times it has collapsed. Then, water now takes longer time to leave from their fields. This has led to reduction in the cultivation period and the productivity as well. Most of them have lost a substantial part of their farmland due to erosion.
During my initial visits there, I used to wonder why one would continue to live in an area while knowing that there will be flood every year. Living with this continuous threat of losing the wealth generated during the year could be frustrating and can also make one pessimistic about earning better. But this logic of a rationalist got smashed when I spent a day with a Mishing family in their house. There was hardly anything in the house which one will feel fear of losing. This bamboo house was built on a height of about seven feet, supported by bamboos. Inside the house it was poorly lighted but had everything for a good sleep. Beneath the house they have their handloom which comprises of a charkha and weaving device made of bamboo. They just earn enough to meet their living needs. I was surprised when they said they don’t even take the things which don’t need but which would be provided by the government for free. As most of them fall below the poverty line, they are entitled to get a fixed quantity of free rice, wheat flour and kerosene oil under the public distribution scheme. They say they only take rice out of all because the other things they don’t use. I asked them why can’t they sell those things which they don’t use but could be easily sold thereon adding a support to their expenditures. Their response was overwhelming. They said many other communities often don’t get these things because of under-supply, thus, they leave it for them. With this you realize what kind of satisfaction with life you need when you live in such difficult areas.
Over the time I will be working with the weavers here. Almost all the households do handloom and only the women in the houses are involved in this. I would try to improve the market access of the garments that they make. There are two justifications for this work. First, talking to many of them I found their expenditure on health is high as situation post floods has serious consequences on their health due to water borne diseases. The increase in income will help them meet those expenditures. Secondly, the garments made by them are extremely beautiful and carry a culture which is not much known and the world should know about it. With the speed at which this island is reducing, there is a threat of extinction of this culture.
Gubbachi Learning Community was established by APU Alumni in mid-2015 to (i) enable the educational inclusion of the disadvantaged out of school children, typically from migrant and deprived families, in collaboration with the public education system (ii) facilitate empowerment of the family and community in which the children are located and (iii) through evidence and engagement, influence policies and practices among key stakeholders (e.g. construction companies, contracting middlemen, education system, other social safety providers – health, child and women welfare, and so on) to adopt humane and inclusive approaches to issues of education and development of labour.
Morning Stories – Preethy (M A Education, 2012-14)
At Gubbachi, every morning starts in a circle –teachers and students share and reconnect sitting in a circle. This is a time when we get a glimpse of the children’s lives and hear about the many real and make believe moments (sometimes hard to tell apart) that make up their eventful childhoods.
Here is a bagful of anecdotes that we have heard :
- Shashikant was once married to a stone by his sister during play. Another time, attempts were made to marry Shashikant to a dog, but when it was time to tie the ‘tali’ the dog ran away (at the altar)! (Playing ‘marriage’ is common. ‘Marrying’ means tying a make believe ‘tali’ (mangalsutra) made out of any old string and a piece of turmeric tied to it.)
After graduating from the Azim Premji University with a Masters in Development, my education in the field continues. The classes and faculty have been replaced by the field and colleagues who have spent years working here. Ideas such as poverty and marginalization have concrete dimensions here, the implications of both have become abundantly clear in my mind. (more…)
On completing MA in Development from Azim Premji University, I joined Kudumbashree in Kerala. Kudumbashree is a women movement. It is also the State Poverty Eradication Mission of Kerala. Today, Kudumbashree has been recognized as a National Resource Organization and provides support to other states who are interested to replicate some of their best practices. (more…)
School: UPS Mora, Mori, Uttarkashi
As we (me and my colleague) had planned to meet science teacher of this school and to conduct an activity of showing acidic and basic nature of substances of daily use, by Litmus paper test. I tried to inform the teacher for our visit but unfortunately on all three times I called, a mechanical voice replied “The number you are trying is either switched off or out of coverage area, please try again later”. Anyway, we decided to visit school and perform activity with students and left for Mora from Mori, hanging on the back-rods of a vehicle, like stuntmen.
About the Village
Above on the hill beside the river “Tauns”, full of green fields, a village called “Mora” comes while moving some 7 to 8 Km from the remotest block Mori of district Uttarkashi, on the Purola-Tyuni road. Village community looks prosperous as many have agricultural fields and some have given their lands to a company of Rafting, known as In-Me. some, who are not very well enough, work with the company and in other occupations.
By going from the fields towards Mora Primary & upper primary school, there are chances of encountering with snakes, as this area is near to Thadiyar which people say is famous for snakes. Anyway I have neither met snakes there, nor do I want to.