New Delhi - April - June 1998
AJAY ABDULLAH-A WOEFUL TALE OF LOST CHILDHOOD!
Thirteen year old Ajay's story begins in a village in Surat. When he was just five, Ajay lost his father. Few months later his mother committed suicide. thus orphaned at the age of six, Ajay and his sister were left at the mercy of their grandmother.
At a tender age Ajay had to do everything from drawing water from deep open wells, washing clothes and utensils and was given nothing to eat except for leftovers. Ajay had no alternative but to flee home when he was seven. He boarded a train not knowing where he was heading for and not having the money to buy his ticket. Ajay was caught by the checker as the train reched its destination-Delhi. Fortunately an Army Jawan who was travelling in the same train rescued him from th eauthorities and took him along to Dehradun and put him into an orphanage.
Finally, it seemed a comfortable stay but soon, Ajay started thinking of running away from this home too. He was victimised by the older boys and attempts were made to sodomise him. He soon got a chance and made a dash for Dehradun Railway Station, where he boarded the first train leaving the station. Once again, Ajay hiding from ticket checkers and the police, carried on his aimless journey.
The train brought him to the New Delhi Railway Station. While he was still taking stock of his surroundings, clutching his little bundle of belongings and being pushed around by the crowd, he was caught by the vigilant cop on duty and this time he was sent to the Remand Home at Narela. He was later transferred to the Ajmeri Gate 'Ran Basera' (Night Shelter). Here Ajay befirended a fellow inmate, whom he only recalls as Dada. Dada guided Ajay to start selling newspaper. Ajay a confident and outgoing boy with basic education he had gained by attending school at Dehradoon, did a smart business on the streets of Delhi. Each evening he deposited his earnings with his friend but the business rivalry led him to leave newspaper vending. Out of the money thus earned he started his own trade, selling peanuts at the Bus terminal. But since selling this was a seasonal business, he got drawn to collecting and selling of mineral water bottles at the New Delhi Railway Station. Fate continued to play hide and seek with this little soul.
The Night shelter was closed down and he decided to make New Delhi Railway Station his home, he started living on the platform. From dawn to late in the night he sold mineral water bottles and earned between Rs.30-40- daily but then he sue to spend his money watching Bollywood block busters, playing Video Games and taking drugs.
Deepalaya with its experience of working with the little citizens in slums started a project for thes hundred of street children at New Delhi Railway Station. The centre is located at Ram Nagar. For many the centre puts an end to their search for a shelter, where they could spend the night, live with the same set of people, have a bath everyday, wash their clothes and learn to read and write. Ajay is one of them for whom coming to the centre has helped to transform his thought about work and money and his future. As a child he had little choice than thinking about daily existence bu Ajay has reached a stage when he doesn't want to sell mineral water but wants a permanent employment.
According to the social worker at the centre, Ajay feels much more secure and stable than the child we saw three months ago. Daily without fail, Ajay manages time for studies, in few moths he has picked up the elementary calculations and languages.
Now he doesn't get forced into drugs to cope with the pressures and pains. Today Ajay is saving from his daily earnings and deposits with the centre. The most favourable change in Ajay is his temper. Now he is more composed. He does miss on his childhood!
Today! he wants to be a motor mechanic and talks of standing on his own feet. Destiny has deprived him of his childhood but he wants to leave behind the woeful tale.
Though too early to say but this child from Surat has regained a sense of self respect and dignity after coming to the centre. For him Deepalaya centre is a source of security and strength.
DEEPALAYA RURAL DEVELOPMENT RESOURCE CENTRE
The stream of migrants leaving rural areas and arriving in cities with the dream that the city will provide a new hope for them has posed a big question to NGOs working with the urban poor. The flow doesn't seem to cease, each year 2,00,000 migrants arrive in Delhi. The trend has forced NGOs to look into the root cause of migration. The crisis stems largely from lack of stable income and services in the villages. On 6th January Deepalaya launched an ambitious programme in Rural Development at Gusbethi in Sohna, Mewat Region. Deepalaya has acquired necessary land and had put up buildings and with the support of Aga Khan Foundation the centre is envisaged to be an institution which will act as a catalyst to support overall development of communities in hamlets namely Kirori, Gusbethi, Pipaka, Patuka, Poothlakha in Sahsola village.
Some 70 kms away from Delhi-a sleepy little village Sahsola, presents a plight of neglect and deprivation. Agriculture is the main source of employment for population which ranges between 7000-9000 people. But poor irrigation facilities has rendered many to leave the traditional source of income.
Instead majority of the people now work as stone breakers and loaders. Illiteracy has also contributed significantly to the backwardness of the villages, between the five villages under Sahsola there is a single middle school in Patuka. The primary schools and an anganwadi in the region are not very well run. Generally girls are not sent to school, even if they are, they are withdrawn at adolescence. Also the nearest medical facility is at Sohna which is 7 kms away.
Deepalaya has launched programmes in the field of Education, Health, Floriculture, Empowerment of Women, vocational training, Promotion of Thrift and Credit, Income Generaiton. Establishing linkages between the community and government to tackle infrastructural problems is also undertaken.
"Deepalaya Gram" a residential programme for the street and working children, will work towards mental, physical and spiritual development of the children. The main objective of setting up a programme in a remote village is to take these children away from the influence of city life.
The trend in most rural areas have shown lack of education as root cause of poverty. Infact, in Sahsola village, literacy level is marginal, the literacy rate among the adults is almost negligible. The children who go to Govt. schools end up as dropouts between V to VIIth std due to lack of proper parental guidance and weak base. Inorder to develop interest for education among the children, Deepalaya has established Balwadis.
To address problems related to health, Deepalaya will be taking up community Health. The centre will reach basic health care services to the villagers including pre and post natal care, immunization facilities and prevention of Malaria, Polio etc. Deepalaya will be emphasising on linkages with Govt. health Dept. to educate the community on promotive, preventive and curative aspect of Health.
Agriculture is the traditional source of occupation. Villagers grow seasonal crops like wheat, maize, jowar and mustard. In order to create avenues for additional income, Deepalaya would train villagers to take up floriculture and also help them to market the products.
Deepalaya has always laid stress on managing the resources and encouraged the habit of saving. Thrift and credit is part of this programme which will help the villagers to form groups which will lead the families to be self reliant. The programme will encourage women to come forward in forming the groups which would pave way for equality in a traditional Muslim society.
LAST FOUR MONTHS-AN UPDATE
For, Deepalaya, initial days have been in a real sense a 'testing time'. The entire community was wary about Deepalaya's entry. According to the Sarpanchs of Gusbethi and Patuka-they have often felt why Deepalaya is here? But working closely, with Deepalaya has made them believe that Deepalaya is here to make the community self reliant.
In its first phase of the programme, Deepalaya has set up a pre school for children between the age of 3 to 5. Today the centre has nearly 70 children enrolled. This is an attempt to familiarise first generation learners of Gusbethi region, education. Health centre has also been established to reach first aid and spread general health awareness. The project will provide opportunities for vocational training for the youth and towards improving over all socio-economic condition of women. They would also be trained in traditional skills.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS TRAINING PROGRAMME
Deepalaya has launched an intensive training program with financial support from Aga Khan Foundation to train grass root level community workers as 'Social Entrepreneurs'.
The programme commenced on 17th February with 30 grass root level workers participating in the training programme, conducted by consultants and H.R.D personnel from Deepalaya which included 7 week long classroom training and 36 week long exposure in the community.
The main objective of the programme is to equip grass root level professionals on subject matters like Education, Community Organisation, Community Development, skill upgradation, Income Generation, entrepreneurship development. This is meant to develop local human resource and ensure continuity of programme in the community even after the NGO phases out.
The curriculum include 4 modules, containing personality development, how to be a good manager, concept of social entrepreneurship and prepare them to be effective community resource.
Through the training programme it is hoped to bring quality into the social entrepreneurs role, ensuring commitment and concern.
GLOBAL MARCH AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
To draw world wide attention in protecting and promoting the rights of children 'Global March Against Child Labour' was planned by the group of Social Organisations across the world.
The marchers reached Delhi on 8th April, they were welcomed by children at the National Highway on 8th April 1998. On the 9th, the March started from Raj Ghat. Nearly 2000 marchers from Deepalaya were carrying placards with messsages to 'safe guard childhood', 'guraranteeing every child their childhoo' etc. They wer also shouting slogans against 'child labour'. It ended at Parliament Street where a cultural program was held.
On the occasion, children from Deepalaya school, presented colourful 'Dance of India' giving glimpses of 'cultural diversity'. Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary was invited to deliver the welcome address. On the 10th April evening Deepalaya hosted a farewell dinner to honour the Marchers. Patriotic flavour was added to the evening with the presentation of specially choreographed 'Vande-matraram'. The august gathering who assekbled to express their solidarity with the Global Marchers included Ms.Maneka Gandhi (Minsiger of State for Welfare) Mr.Kailash Satyarthi (Co-ordinator of the Global March).
FOUNDATION STONE CEREMONY OF DEEPALAYA HR CENTRE
Yet another milestone was achieved with the laying of the foundation stone of the Deepalaya Human Resource Centre at Janakpuri Institutional Area on 25th March '98.
The foundation stone was blessed and plaque unveiled by Most Rev.Dr.Alexander Marthoma, Metropolitan of Marthoma Church amidst the presence of distinguished guests who included Rt.Rev.Dr.Issac Mar Philexinos, Prof.P.J.Kurien, Member of Parliament, Mr.Phillippe Fallisee (Cultural Attache-Belgium Embassy), representatives of Diplomatic core, members of NGOs etc. Welcoming the distinguished guests Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary spoke on the philosophy of 'helping thy neighbour' behind the birth of Deepalaya.
Speaking on the occasion Most.Rev.Dr.Aledander Marthoma, Metropolitan, Marthoma Church lauded the role of Deepalaya and emphasised the need for empowering the rural community to avert their influx to the metros. Prof.P.J. Kurien, member of newly elected Parliament thanked Deepalaya for its role in ushering an era of sustainability among the downtrodden, and rightly emancipating the philosophy of 'love thy neighbour' in its right spirit.
Children from Deepalaya School presented 'Vandemataram' and a group song which received a thundering ovation from the distinguished gathering.
Deepalaya's Human Resource Centre is being established to provide training to grass root and front line workers of Deepalaya, slaos Samiti functionaries and cother interested to train their grass root cadres. We felt it is necessity to have such a centre in roder to develop the Human Resource at the community level namely the Social Entrepreneurs, the Bsti Sevikas and local association functionaries through whom the process of empowerment, capacity building and social transformation can be achieved.
AWARDED TO DEEPALAYA STUDENT
It was a rare honour for Deepalaya when Anil Rana, a student of class VIII bagged the silver medal and a certificate in an Art Workshop held at G.D.Goenka Public School on February 2nd this eyar. It was organised by Search Year, an NGO engaged in the task of identifying and promoting talents in the field of art and culture, and conducted by the International Institute of Perfect Art, Japan. Three children from Deepalaya School, Anil Rana, Urmila and Mackleena took part in the workshop, along with a number of participants from elite public schools of Delhi.
Though the workshop was originally meant for Japanese-style landscape painting, it turned out to be an exercise in portrait painting. Anil has a flare for drawing portraits using models, his model was classmate Urmila and the prtrayal seemed to catch her distinctive features, her typical smile and the inner self.
Anil was felicitated in the school premises by Ms.Bela of Search Years, in a special assembly organised for the purpose on 26th February '98. Six prize winning paintings were shown to the children. These painting will be presented in the International Exhibition on Creative Arts by children, to be held in Japan in the year 2000.
For Anil, winning the prize is not the end. He says, he has beenfitted from the wokrshop getting new ideas, tips and hints, which will help him to add finer touch to his work and refine his sensibilities. "I cannot express my feelings on winning this award" says Anil, who is overwhelmed!
NEO LITERATES APPEAR FOR EXAMS
When many in private schools feel burdened with Examinations, the students of NFE centre at Narang Deepalaya School experienced the excitement of examinations for the first time! For 52 children and adults who have been studying in the NFE classes it was time to know how much they have been able to grasp and learn. Students were categoriesed according to their level of learning and not according to stereo typed classification based on age. Students were assessed in language, arithmetic, social studies and General knowledge.
Reena who attends NFE centre at Jagdamba Camp could barely forget the moments when she was garlanded by her instructor to recognise her effort in a function organised to facilitate all those who have successfully cleared their exams. Guddi, an adult neo literate felt, attending classes has helped her to teach her children and also to manage resources at home.
According to NFE instructor the main focus of the centre is to educate the community with basic knowledge which would be useful for them in their day to day life.
SPORTS MEET AND PICNIC TIME AT NARANG DEEPALAYA SCHOOL
It was a break from the routine academics and it was time for some fun on 24th March. 220 children from Narang Deepalaya School went on an excursion trip to Luxmi Bai Nagar Lake. Children went around the Park experiencing the gift of nature and understanding the need for conserving nature.
To bring sense of competitiveness childrn were drawn to various races and other sports competitions. Later winners were awarded prizes and certificates.
On 1st February it was time for youth from V.P.Singh Camp, Golekuan, Transit Camp, Sanjay Colony, Gandhi Basti and Indira Camp to exhibit fitness and to develop competitive spirit.
The venue was Kalka Public School, and competitors were pitched against each othe rin the field of athletics, tug of war, shot put etc. Inaugurating the meet, MR.Mathew, Chief Executive & Secretary emphasised the need for physical fitness. Mr.Y.Chackochan, Executive Member, Deepalaya while distributing prizes to the winners, underlined the need for discipline.
JAPANESE GRANT FOR DEEPALAYA
As part of the Japanese Government programme to assist NGOs for promoting and improving living conditions of people and children in particular, they have extended support to Deepalaya towards Furniture, Electrical and Sanitary fittings and a lift for handicapped for the new school coming up in Kalkaji Extn.
The big moment came on 26th February when Grant papers were signed by Hon'ble Ambassador Mr.Sakutaro Tanino and Mr.T.K.Mathew, Chief Executive and Secretary. The Grant assistance from Japansese Gover was to an extend of $93360/-. Thanks to Japanese Government! for its commitment towards improving quality of life for the people in large.
BEAUTY QUEEN VISITS DEEPALAYA SCHOOL
She kept the promise! Manpreet Brar, beauty queen, during the launch of a fund raising campaign in the past had promised Deepalaya children that she would find time to visit Deepalaya School.
She was in Deepalaya school on 18th March. She was taken around Deepalaya School and she took keen interest to know the curriculum followed in the school. She was reminded of her school days when she went through the question papers. She was impressed by the quality of education followed in Deepalaya.
Ms.Brar has become a perpetual sponsor by sponsoring a tiny tot from Deepalaya Nursery wing.
STREET CHILDREN CARED FOR BY DEEPALAYA TOUR TO BOMBAY AND PURE
The visit to the National Park, Gateway of India, Taraporewala Aquarium, Jehangir Art Gallery is still fresh in the midns of Raju, Imran, Ayub and Ravishankar who were the lucky ones to have visited Bombay and Pjne from 24th March to 31st Mrch with street and working children from other NGO's.
The trip was conducted by the NGO Forum for child labour to provide them a chance to visit Bombay. The children got the opportunity to watch animal safari in their nutural habitat! Visit to Gateway of India was of historical perspective. The children were also taken to Taraporewala Aquarium where they caught a glimpse of aquatic world. They also visited the City Museum 'Jahangir Art Gallery' where they were shown various ancient structures related to Harappan and Mohenjadaro civilization. Besides visit to Dadar Market was euqlly interesting.
Importantly the visit was an opportunity for these children to meet their counter parts from Bombay and other cities and develop a sense of togetherness and discipline.