New Delhi - April - June 1997
SAROJ-FRUIT OF DEEPALAYA'S ENDEAVOUR
Saroj like any other girl child among the poor in India was also looked upon by her family as a burden. Her family was despaired over the birth of a girl, which meant spending to raise her only to get her married at an exorbitant expense.
Saroj daughter of Jata Shankar, a daily wage worker who too came alongwith his family of five to the capital in search of better living. However his dreams took a plunge when he found it difficult to meet both ends meet with his meagre earnings, conditions took a formidable turn when he had to settle down with his family in one of the squatter settlements in Okhla Industrial belt. Saroj's father too felt that his daughter can do something worthwhile by helping in domestic chores and in looking after the siblings than go to school. But her mother who suffered due to anti female bias realised that her daughter should not be a victim of discriminatory social behaviour towards the girl child. Her mother's positive thinking saw Saroj joining local Municipal school. In the initial days she faced difficulties in coping with the studies, since she had no one at her home to improve her learning skills.
Saroj could hardly believe that her difficulty will fade away when her family came in touch with a social worker from Deepalaya. Saroj was enrolled in Remedial Education Centre with two of her brother joining Deepalaya formal school.
Today Saroj is 19 and she has dreams in her eyes, she has sensed the freedom, the joy of learning... She has just successfully cleared her secondary school examinations and is continuing with her education through NOS programme. Her family has realised her worth. She is not just studying but also earning by means of teaching underprivileged children in the balwadi unit of Deepalaya School. In her own words Saroj feels much more confident and feels society should change its perception towards 'women', they should recognise the social contribution of women. She is distressed at the discriminatory attitude towards girl child in India.
She is of the view, it could have been difficult for her family to access education but for Deepalaya and her sponsor parent Ms.Thngamani.
Saroj despite having busy schedule and responsibility at home and school is confident of doing reasonably, well in her higher secondary examinations.
Saroj's success is sure to encourage the women in the community to insist for education.
TRAINING PROGRAMME ON REPREODUCTIVE HEALTH AND A.I.D.S
The AIDS pandemic has left no continent untouched. According to a survey conducted by WHO, there are 10-12 million men, women and children worldwide infected with HIV. Since AIDS recognises no boundaries of race, sex, class or age. Latest official figures show India has 3183 persons (source; National Aids Control Organisation) infected by HIV/AIDS. Deepalaya too is working with government agencies and private bodies to contain this dreaded disease which endangers the mankind to extinction.
In this connection, Deepalaya's West Delhi Project organised a training programme with Centre for Growth Alternatives on issues related to AIDS, STD and Reproductive health. The focus of the training was to make participants aware of STD & AIDS, family planning issues related to Hygiene and Nutrition, Prenatal and Internatal care etc. during 3 day long programme. The consultants used techniques which included group and individual practice sessions, presentations and role plays.
The impact of training was felt in the expressions of Jyoti, Motia and Joginder Kaur who are positive to initiate training programme in the community. Workshop on AIDS and STD control also held in Sanjay Colony in South Delhi Project for the Health workers. Films on AIDS and flass cards on the spread of AIDS was shown to the participants. Through workshops and training programme Deepalaya aims at increasing awareness on AIDS and has left significant impact on the community to take active interest in issues related to AIDS, STD and Reproductive health.
NATIONAL OPEN SCHOOL PROGRAMME
The effort towards universalisation of education was continued commencing the new academic session for 96-97 in South, West and North West Delhi projects of Deepalaya.
In South Delhi project classes were held at Deepalaya school where as in West Delhi a unique instance of collaboration between NGOs was witnessaed with URVI Trust sharing expertise and resources to enhance quality of open learning by imparting motivational and counselling services.
Nearly 500 students were enrolled for the NOS programme during this academic session. They are receiving academic support through Personal Contact Programme (PCP). A unique feature of this years session was the introduction of vocational programme for Liberty Attendants.
GATEWAY TO A BETTER FUTURE
Deepalaya new school building site presents a unique illustration of Deepalaya's endeavour to open gateway to better future for the underprivileged. A non formal education centre was started at the school construction site for the children of the labourers.
The centre is imparting basic education to as many as 68 children who are grouped into three categories according to their age. Curriculum followed by the centre includes alphabet, word and sentence formation, counting, baic addition, subtraction and multiplication. Periodical health check ups are also aprt of the programme. The centre also runs an adult education resource centre for the labourers during their lunch hours. There are plans to start creche facilities for the new born babies.
REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS
The celebrations at Ramditti JR Narang Deepalaya School was unlike what we generally associate with Republic Day function. It was not just hoisting of the tricolour and singing of patriotic songs, but the celebration unveiled the imaginative skills and scientific approach of the children who made working models of alternate Fuel & Energy resources.
The children also presented 'News Reporting' an insight into the current affairs. A play on 'Cleanliness & Sanitation' was staged on the occasion. At Deepalaya Sanjay Colony school, combined cultural programmes was presented by children from different locations of South Delhi Projects. The children from special unit were also not left behind. They presented a variety entertainment programme.
VISITORS FROM AUSTRALIA
Students from various Australian Universities were in Deepalaya on an exchange programme which attempted to give there youngsters an insight into some of the pressing problems before the Urban poor. These student were taken to the project locations where they took part in cleanliness and sanitation drive. During their two week long stay they also interacted with children from Deepalaya school and took keen interest to know what their school curriculum contain. These children also joined the counterparts in Deepalaya school in Lohri celebrations, whcih marks beginning of the harvest season.
For Ruth, Vivian and Teresa it was a new experience. They remember of Bon Fires in school campus but this experience they had in Deepalaya would be difficult for them to forget.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATION
While women may have come a long way from the time they were confined to the four walls, have excelled in many fields, but there are far too may hurdles which stand on the wya before they belong to an equal society. A society where all forms of discrimination towards women are eliminated.
To mark the occasion Deepalaya's South Delhi Project organised a Health Mela at Sanjay Colony Project. On the occasion Stass & Exhibitions were put up by Indian Cancer Society, NGO AIDS Cells (AIIMS), Ranbaxy, TB Association.
In the inaugural speech Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary & Chief Executive of Deepalaya, highlighted the role of women in the society, and lauded the effort of Basti Sevikas who have been able to impress on the community, the need for Immunisation, Balanced Diet, Family planning and sanitation.
Ms.Harmala Gupta from Indian Cancer Society, spoke on cancer and its prevention, also there was a puppet show presentation by NGO AIDS Cell on transmission of AIDS and how can one contain AIDS.
EXTRACT FROM THE LETTER TO WORLD BANK ON POPULATION MENACE
Commenting on Population problem in India Mr.Vinod Saigal, Convenor of Movement for Restoration of good government affirms that today the Indian subcontinent is threatened more by the run away population growth than the other threats (Nuclear, biological or chemical). It becomes more necessary for us to animate the youth to play a role in ushering secured future for the country. The state governments in the most populous states should be prodded and comprehended on the magnitude of the menace that can be created by population outburst.
He points out that by 1996 NGOs world wide had arrived at the conclusion that women in the slums if given a choice were relunctant to have too may children. In the blue print submitted to the Prime Minister of India in 1980, it states "Sex is no joy to most women in the slums. In fact, many of them, weary of the daily grind and barely recovering from the last pregnancy dread the inevitable onslaught of the drunken male. In a male dominated society that semistarved women, battered both by foture and her spouse, would welcome a deliverance from constant child bearing. We have failed to reach her". He reiterates that India's population can be stabilised within a decade if a meaning network for implementing the Family Planning Programme is followed. However he raises scepticism on the present methodologies followed by the government and the donor agencies to contain population growth.
He concludes by sighting a quote from his talk "The Family Planning programme in India at the end of 1984 suffers not so much from a resistance on the part of the population to adopt the small family norm but from an organisational infirmity".
SPECIAL UNIT-AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MEANINGFUL LIFE
Lekhraj, Preeti, Rajender, Reena are unlike other children, cannot play, hum a song, see thenature through their eyes. These children are suffering from polio, cerebral palsy, speech, hearing and visual impairment. Today they are prt of the Special Unit Programme which is nurturing around 50 children at Sanjay Colony and Golekuan Projects. These children are particularly fortunate when we look at the statistics which indicate that 95% of India's disabled population are denied access to the basic rights. Still in many Indian household 'Disability' is looked upon as a curse and they are left to lead a life of solitude, pain and suffering with no room for opportunities.
Deepalaya's special unit was started in the year 1994 with an aim to disseminate information to the community in the slums about the needs of disabled children and to integrate them into mainstream schooling through need based therapies.
Deepalaya in order to help the children with disabilities, joined hands with Spastic Society of Northern India. Deepalaya's special units educates the children using teaching methodology which includes extensive usage of expressions/hand movements/eyes & verbal communications/communication board. Special unit emphasises on individualised attention, and monitoring is done for each child. It was observed, with specialised training, keeping in midn the academic and personal potential, many children have been integrated into main stream formal school. Besides, academic curriculum is designed to improve the communication skills, social and personal development for satisfying quality of life. Training in the field of special education and therapy techniques is imparted to the special unit instructors through partnership with SSNI and Jan Madhyam. The special unit also give these children a scope to develop their co-curricular faculties through hobby classes. Yough Preeti who has partial visual impairment enjoys dancing with popular Hindi Film notes. Rajinder and Lekhraj are particularly fond of translating their thoughts on to drawing sheets. These children also have dreams. They want to be Doctor, Police, Teacher...
Parental support plays a vital role in keeping these children in high spirits. Deepalaya Special Unit gives vital phychological support and guidance to the parents on communication, diet, lifting and carrying techniques etc. They are also briefed to network with local medical health services, special education centres in getting assistive aids and appliances for the disabled.
Main objective of Deepalaya Special Unit is not just rehabilitate the disabled children but an approach in honouring their capabilities. Another important focus area is to increase the community's understanding about disability and participate in activities to prevent disability.
Ms.Devaroti Ghosh, sponsor sister of Poonam (SC1342) writes to her:
My dearest Poonam,
I hope this letter reaches you in your best health and cheer. I am very sorry that I could not write to you earlier. You see, I have been a bit unwell, and on top of that I had my selection examinations, and thus really had little time to spare. Now, however my papers are over and I hope to write to you fairly regularly.
To begin with, let me welcome you to my family, of which you are now a part of. We all intend to be there for you, whenever you need us. By the way, I received two snap shots of yours, and i think you are mighty sweet. I also received that pretty drawing of yours thank you, my dear. Meanwhile do write to me about anything you like. Always remember, that from now on you have me and my family to count on.
I will be ending now. Convey my regards to your parents and love to Rajiv. My family sends you all their love, and of course lots and lots of love and best wishes from me.
Extract from Ms.Vinita Srivastava's (sponsor parent) letter
Ours was a happy family of four, till tragedy struck one dya. Fate dealt us such a blow, that it left us reeling with shock. We lost our daughter. The world became a dark and dreary place too cruel to bear.
With years passing one came in terms with fate, but every year when Shailaja's birthday came round, I would grow restless. I would indulge in activities which brings happiness to my daughter. I would visit orphanage to distribute sweets, and also woollens and blankets to the children in the villages.
When we came, after my husband's transfer I came to know about Deepalaya, and about the good work that they were doing for the children in slums. But I was bit sceptical whether my contribution would reach the needy, so I went to see Deepalaya School for myself, and was completely bowled over.
The kids seemed happy and animated. The teachers were the dedicated lot and were engrossed in their work. So I promptly made up my mind to join Deepalaya family and I am happy to say that my husband, my son and daughter have all become enthusiastic member of this family. We all enjoy the cards and letters our Deepalaya children send us from time to time. Our association with Deepalaya has been a very fulfilling one. Thank you, Deepalaya, for helping us out of our tragedy, for filling this great big void within us.
There is a little secret I would like tos hare with every one. The only way to cope with tragedy is to resolutely turn one's back on it and focus on someone else's suffering and try and relieve it in whatever small measure one can. The returns of such an investment are immense, believe me!
Children from Deepalaya, who have received wide appreciation at home by their captivating cultural presentation would be flying to Holland in May where they would perform at the schools which have been supporting Deepalaya through school to school partnership programme.
This cultural exchange was conceived with Foundation for Christian Education who are particularly interested in such an exchange programme. The visit will give children from Holland a better understanding of India, its culture and particularly Deepalaya.