New Delhi - July - September 1997
Dhampati lives not just for the sake of living
No one is able to pre-determine one's own destiny, many things happen, and often life take its own course on which we have little control.
Dhampati was just six years of age, when her potential for dreams crumbled. She met with an accident and her worlds was reduced to four walls of the hospital. She struggled with death. She and her 'crutches' became lifetime companions as also a prefix 'Handicap'.
Dhampati, felt unwanted at the age of six. Poverty and disability were the major reasons for the despair. She had to discontinue studies as her parents felt little need for educating a handicapped girl. They didn't realise growing up in an atmosphere of sympathy and condescension will turn her into a mental wreck. Her disability was looked upon as a liability of her parents. How ever, Dhampati was determined as ever. She learnt to iron clothes and began ironing clothes of the neighbourhood, so as to make life happier and a=had meaning to her existence. At the age of 15 she was forcibly married to Leela Ram, who was partially blind.
Dhampati and Leela Ram migrated to Raghubir Nagar slum cluster in West Delhi in pursuit of better life. Leela Ram was employed a daily wage worker with an export house, his earning could barely meet the needs of family which within a span of 5 years had grown to 5 with the birth of 3 children. Importantly 'Prakash Vikas Samiti' one of the CBOs run by Deepalaya was engaged in welfare activities in D-Block area of Raghubir Nagar where Dhampati and her family were residing. Deplorable living condition in which the family was existing came to the notice of the social workers. Deepalaya at once, took care of children's education and health through sonsorship. Dhampati too made a beginning by attending special classes for neo literates run by Deepalaya. She could hardly believe that she would once again be able to study, after nearly 20 years, to her disbelief she could clear Primer-I exams, specially designed for neo-literates.
Now Dhampati participates actively in Samiti's working and in this eyar's Pragati '97 she won a prize for literacy. She still iron clothes in Raghubir Nagar and supports her family. She is confident of giving her children the best education. She is hopeful that her effort would enable her family to secure a place in the society. She is distressed at the attitude of society as a whole towards disability. She feels that 'sympathy' makes 'Handicapped' feel meagre. The society should give handicapped a place in the community, a place in working oife in accordance with one's abilities. She ahs a dream to set up a grocery shop for which she has already put an application and she hopes her dram won't elude her long.
Dhampati, surrounded by a loving family and encouragement from Deepalaya has overcome her disability and she is as strong as any other women.
Deepalaya Children, As Cultural Envoys In Holland
"Their Parents may not have smelt a rose, but children are going to pick tulips in Holland"
Times of India '24-5'97'
True indeed these little envoys from Deepalaya allured thousands in Holland with vibrant colours, lively dances and haunting melodies. Although there is still a clear polarization between European and Indian Culture, the language of culture explored an impulse which stringed both the cultures into a harmony.
During the 21 day long cultural exchange programme which was organised in collaboration with Foundation for Christian Education, children performed at different schools and colleges of Holland and also at ICCO, one of the premier funding organisation. For these young envoys from slums it was truly 'adream come true' and a proof for Deepalaya "To enable the child look beyond slums".
According to Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary & Chief Executive, Deepalaya "This was an opportunity for the children to exhibit their latent talents, and to demonstrate their growth academically, culturally and socially in association with Deepalaya".
In the beginning though children were a bit anxious over how an alien land would accept them and their culture, all their apprehensions faded away when the Dutch and Deepalaya children accepted each others culture and transforming their reluctance into a everlasting bond of friendship. During their stay, children exchanged their views on culture, education, history etc. Coming to the cultural presentations, the heterogeneous nature of India's vivid culture which manifests in our language, dance, music and art was well represented. The programme was drawn from every corner of the country to given a clear insight into Indian diversity through dance and music. The presentations included 'Dances of India' which included dances from different states of India. Bharatiyam, Ritu Rang, Ganga Stuti and Disco Bhangra were also part of the performances which portrayed the Indian life style, seasons, religion, occupation, emotions etc.
Neha, a promising Deepalaya child, who recently scored 75% marks in ehr secondary school examination wss beaming with confidence and she felt that the exchange programme was a 'flight of fancy' whcih would eb an unforgettable success story. In her own words Neha expressed, "our visit was really an eye opener, an opportunity to learn and understand Dutch culture" and about the cultural programme she feels "we were able to give them more than what they expected from us. We started well and we ended well". Balram, another promising Deepalaya child said, he has made many friends in Holland and he feels Dutch children are helpful and have a loving nature.
For Deepalaya and Dutch children this was an opportunity to come close to each other. Children exchanged bangles, bracelets and even learnt each others language, songs and dances. A fair was also held at one of the schools where Deepalaya children applied Mehnid and placed bindi.
During the stay in Holland, Foundation for Christian Education arranged visits and excursions to places of intersts which included Open Air Museum, Castle, Harbour, Dolphinarium, Sea beaches which gave the children historical, social and cultural perspectives of Holland.
The trip was an attempt to bring Dutch and Indian culture closer which was largely successful and has created better understanding among the children.
Pragati '97-Annual Community Event:
As the name suggests 'Pragati '97' is a retrospect into the progress made by the community in different spheres during the year. This event is not just an evaluation of the community based organisations (CBO) but helps to bring htem together on a common platform, where they can interact, share views which help them to plan for future.
This year the event was held on 24th and 25th April and was participated by 33 Samities from Raghubir Nagar, Khyala, Meera Bagh and Kirti Nagar.
While inaugurating the annual fixture, Mr.T.K.Mathew expressed his happiness that during the course of 12 long years Deepalaya Plan Project has grown from a seed into a tree, bearing fruits.
This ushers an era of self reliance and sustainability among the urban poor. The evaluation process revolved around Community Organisation, Skills, Human Resource Development, Management of Community Resources, Training and Development.
The programme included Quiz contests and debates on Nutrition, Reproductive health, thrift and credit etc. This was an attempt to assess the benefits drawn by the community from the training programmes and workshops conducted by Deepalaya Plan Project, during the phase out period.
Bhagwati Devi, one of the participants who incidentally is also the Treasurer of Manav Seva Samiti, felt her ong association of ten years with Deepalaya has not only empowered her but has also paved way for a community around her which is independent, development oriented and self sustaining.
Mr.Mathew Cherian (Representative, Plan International) who presided over the closing ceremony expressed his happiness on the Development process. Pragati '97 demonstrated how empowerment of the samities, equality among the sexes and social transformation was brought about through the project.
Social Development Fair
The first ever Social Development Fair was organised at Pragati Maidan, Delhi from April 12-20. The Fair provided a platform to NGOs and Corporates for interaction and deliberation, increased public awareness and projection of the role of Social Development organisations. The fair was an attempt to address issues of oscial and community development such as empowerment of women, gender euqlity, child labour, health, literacy, education and urban growth.
Deepalaya had a display counter at the fair. The exhibits projected the nature of work, objectives, achievements etc. of Deepalaya. Income generation projects, co-ordinated by Deepalaya displayed their Handicrafts, gift wares and processed food items. Children from Deepalaya School presented a spectacular cultural pageantry at the inauguration in which the Lok Sabha Speaker Hon'ble P.A.Sangma was the chief guest. They also gave a public performance, which attracted larg crowd.
Elections in West Delhi Project
Deepalaya's West Delhi Project is under Phase out. A remarkable landmark in achievement is the process of transfering the responsibility of running the affairs of samities to democratically elected executive committees.
The election process to each Samiti began in November '96. Preparing the voters list was followed by a notification of elections. Nominations were filed by members of the cluster, who are literate and have attained the age of 25 years. Scrutiny of nomination papers marked the end of first step of election process. Second step included assigning of symbols, printing of ballot papers, casting of votes followed by counting and declaration of the results.
Election process was implemented in two phases. First phase included election of cluster leaders, cluster coordinators, leaders of Youth Groups, Functional Groups, Mahila Mandals and other such groups will elect the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Samiti.
The whole process is progressing in all the 33 samities for which training was imparted to the community. Through this democratic process, Deepalaya would achieve its mission of enabling the community to transform themselves into self reliant, self governed and exploitation free social structures which will pave the way for development of the disadvantaged.
Annual Day Celebration at Narang Deepalaya School
Annual Day function was held at Narang Deepalaya School on 9th May. On the occasion children presented colourful cultural programmes before the distinguished gathering which included Mr.T.K.Mathew, Mrs.&Mr.P.Narang of Narang Trust. Mr.Narang in his brief speech applauded the role of teachers who have worked hard in bring changes in children.
The programme included brief introduction of Deepalaya by the children, recitation of poems, a ballet enacting story of Krishna's childhood, group songs and nukkad natak on 'child labour'. This was followed by prize distribution for academics, sports and for promoting environmental awareness.
Message of South African High Commissioner, H.E.Mr.J.M.Matsila
We are a caring country and are extremely concerned about the poor and the underprivileged all over the world. Deepalaya is working for a noble cause of integrated community development in the slums of Delhi, with special emphasis on child development, which is worth mentioning.
Children are our future. They should nto be deprived of their innocent childhood. Deepalaya's efforts to help the children of the slums out of this vicious circle is indeed commendable. Since education leads to the empowerment of the man mind, South
African High Commission would like to explore this very positive avenue, in trying to achieve progress through enlightenment.
Children are the pillars of the society on the foundation of the country. Education acts as a catalyst. In the qualitative development of the social fabric of the country. Children can be an active constituent in the progress of the country's development.
One should instill confidence in these children to become a part of the mainstream and channel their efforts in a positive direction. The South African High Commission in its own small way would like to be part of this noble process, and invest in the future of the country.
The developing strategic partnership between India and South Afrca entails not only official, but also contract on a people basis. We are therefore, overjoyed that we can today illustrate our contry's commitment to India in this tangible manner. The South African High Commission hopes that we can be involved with the work being done here by Deepalaya on an ongoing basis.
I wish to congratulate the management, staff and supporters of Deepalaya for their outstanding work and contribution of giving hope to our children. Yours is a noble chosen cause which you discharge with great passion and dedication. The High Commission staff, both South African and indian, wishes you the best always. You can count on us for continued support all the time.
ASHOK WINS THE CUP
Ashok wins the Cup is written by Glynne Norris and illustrated by Allison Norris. This book was creted as a special gift for Ashok for his 13th birthday from Louis, Carola and Adrian.
The story revolves around Ashok, his dream, his liking for football. This is just not an ordinary book, but it presents the emotional bond between the sponsor and the child who are thousands of miles away from each other.
The football match is a portrayal of the struggle and challenges in a childs life and how and care of Deepalaya and the encouragement of the sponsor parent help Ashok to which Ashok is playing.
Ashok's response to the Fantastic Birthday Present
"I have received your letter and the special book which you sent me. I liked the book 'Ashok wins the cup' very much for which I thank you very much. I love you so much. It was very nice of you that you have wished me on my birthday. Your beautiful book on football have awakened the latent in me and I shall try my level best to bring you dreams for me into reality. It is a pleasure to inform you that your precious book has made my name famous throughout Deepalaya Project and School for which I thank you once again.