New Delhi - July - September 1998
Akshay Group an Exemplification of Liberation and Women's Advancement
India is one of the few countries where there are fewer women than men, only 93 women for every 100 men. Reason for this could be a systematic discrimination against women which consequently has led to unusually low men women ratio. Translating Deepalaya's belief in Gender equity, the Akshay Group an all women group was established in the year 1994 as an association of women of the community from M and C Block of Raghubir Nagar Resettlement Colony.
At the beginning, Sharda, Neelam and Munni participated in the nutritional programme of Balwadi units. Periodically they were trained by Nutrition Experts on the importance of balanced diet, Vitamins and proteins constituent, preservative techniques etc. It was during one such training session the group evolved an idea of establishing a catering unit and call it "Akshay Group", which they hoped will go a long way to support and supplement the family income. With the initial support of Deepalaya the group started providing food supplements for Balwadis, and luch for various training and workshops conducted by Deepalaya. Deepalaya helped the group to establish linkages with banking institutions and provided marketing support. The marketing support has led this group to participate in major fairs be it Delhi Haat, Social Development Fair at Pragati Maidan, Diwali Melas, Global March Dinner etc. The group has a Bank account which is transacted by the chosen members of the group and the group keeps their own accounts, formulate plans as also hold periodical meetings among the members to discuss their problems and resolve them.
Sharda, one of the pioneers with the group shared the problems she had to face in the initial days. Her family could never accept the women assuming occupational opportunities. But she had no choice since her husband's earning who works in a tyre retreading shop could barely support the family. Sharda had a dream of educating her children, specially her daughters, she never wanted her own experiences to repeat as she was married early and was deprived of educational opportunities. In her own words "distribution of work within my household is done equally among son and daughters, I encourage my daughter to go to school, though they do help me in domestic chores".
Munniji, could never dream they would be able to build their thatched hut into a concrete roof house. Had Deepalaya not helped them with a timely assistance of Rs.14,000/-. Together Munniji, and her husband who works in an orchestra group have paid back more than 50% of the assistance to the community revolving fund.
Another member of the group, Neelamji who maintains the accounts and attend to bank transactions is hopeful that the support they got from Deepalaya would help them in the long run to identify marketing linkages. Today when Deepalaya has phased out of Raghubir Nagar, Akshay Group is an illustration of an ideal community structure which was nurtured and left behind to be self reliant. The group has its own revolving fund, and has established linkages withbanking institutions for financial support. They are capable of mobilizing resources. Shardaji further added that Deepalaya's intervention has ushered in an era of social transformation in Raghubir Nagar M and C Block. The block has transormed itself from what it use to be unhygienic conditions, closely huddled huts, no lavatory facilities, people resorting to violence, drug and alcohol addiction, to small concrete houses with proper drainage, children being sent to school and more over communities being self sustained.
Pragati '98 Culmination of 12 Years Long Crusade
Pragati '98, annual community event was held at Diocesan Centre, Gole Dakhana on June 9th, as the name "Pragati" suggests the progress made by the communities towards empowerment, capacity building and social transformation.
It has taken Deepalaya 12 years to bring about the social transformation which has led Sarla, Bhagwati, Lalit, Bharti and many more play responsible roles for development of their own communities.
The programe included Quiz contests on Health, Thrift and Credit, functioning of Samities etc. It was an opportunity to self evaluation of learning from different training programmes and workshops conducted by Deepalaya PLAN Project.
Inaugurating the meet, Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary and Chief Executive thanked the community for their co-operation during the past 12 years and expressed his confidence that the development work which was initiated by Deepalaya would be carried on by the samities. An exhibition displaying posters, charts, models on health and sanitation programme was put up at the venue giving aninsight into the progress made and approaches adapted in the respective areas. Added feature of this eyars 'Pragati' was a specially conceptualised Quiz contest on historical perspective related to India's independence and on the post independence era.
At the end, prizes were given to winners of Quiz contests, a recognition of the communities participation in development.
Ms.Maneka Gandhi, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Visits Deepalaya School: Maneka Gandhi, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment-known for her concern for weaker sections visited Deepalaya school on 14th May '98. She went around the school. During her visit she interacted with children and took active interest in the curriculum followed by the school. Manekaji was informed that the school, despite imparting education to more than 1300 children from the slums is having problem for its recognition. She felt that there should be an entirely different set of norms fo recognition governing schools run by NGOs for the children of underprivileged section.
During the visit she also offered assistance for "Greening Delhi". She suggested the idea of training community memebrs, in tree plantation. This could serve as means for income generation for the individuals while making Delhi Greener.
Manekaji-your visit to the school has been a source of encouragement for us to keep the light of education glow!
Annual Day function at Narang Deepalaya School (Khirki Village) on 24th April: This unique venture of Corporate-NGO partnership, completed yet another year! The mission is unique eradicating illiteracy and knitting slum dwellers into the social fabric so that they are not looked upon as social outcasts. Ms.Anjali Ghate, Principal of the school in her welcome speech outlined the progress made by the school and the role of community participation.
A colourful cultural programme was presented by the children. The august gathering included Mrs.Narang of Ramditti J.R.Narang Trust, Mr.T.k.Mathew, Chief Executive of Deepalaya, teachers, social workers and the community.
A short play on environmental conservation and a skit on literacy received appreciation from the gathering. Mr.Mathew in his address thanked the Narang Trust for collaborating with Deepalaya and underlined the need for educating everyone in the household of the locality.
Dr.Ambedkar Smriti Award for Social Services
Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary and Chief Executive, architect of Deepalay was conferred Dr.Ambedkar Smriti Award for his outstanding contribution in helping the cause of the down-trodden. The award instituted by Dalit Children's Education and Development Programme Trust was presented to Mr.Mathew on 26th May at the Constitution Club by Hon (Ex) Justice V.M.Tarkunde. Congratulations Mr.Mathew! your achievement would be a source of inspiration for Deepalaya family to strive even harder towards the well being of the underprivileged.
Grant Assistance from Punjab National Bank
The Bank's commitment in creating a better society was exemplified when Mr.V.K.Nagar, Senior Regional Manager presented a cheque of Rs.32,000 to Deepalaya on 12th June, a token from PNB for development programme.
Special Children go for a Picnic
Appu Ghar, Rail Museum and children's Park hosted special guests on 2nd April, the group of 50 disabled children from Deeplaaya Special Unit. Rail Museum was the first destination where these children had a good time watching models of trains, bridges, tunnels, and a joy ride around the museum. For many this was a maiden experience of train journey. At Appu Ghar these childen had the experience of helicopter and frog ride. By this time children were quite hungry! So next halt was a t children's park where these children were given refreshments. After the luch break these children had fun in playing an singing. This attempt to integrate these children with the main stream and help them grow like normal children is very gratifying.
The Concept of Phase OutOn 30th June, Deepalaya accomplished yet another task in its tally of success by helping the community in West Delhi project self reliant, self ruled and capable of resisting exploitation.
It was an effort which began in 1986, which led Deepalaya to reach the stage of empowerment, capacity building and social transformation of nearly 6,500 families in Raghubir Nagar, Khyala, Meera Bagh and Kirti Nagar resettlement and slum pockets.
Phase out is a process, of Deepalaya withdrawing from a slum clsutger after having achieved certain objectives within a specified period of time. It marks the end of direct interventions and beginning of a phase when community structure are strengthened to deal with the linkages (Government, Non Government, Corporate bodies) identifying problems and working out solutions, capable of planning, formulating and monitoring programmes, mobilizing resources, maintaining accounts and above all following democratic nroms in selecting representatives in the community structures paving way for greater peoples participation.
Phase out process was initiated in West Delhi in the year 1994, when it was felt that a period of 10-12 years would eb adequate, in order to place the community on the road to progress at first milestone. Gulshanara from Kyala, who belongs to an orthodox Muslim family, said, today Deepalaya's intervention has made the women folk come out of the veil and contribute to the household income through various traditional skills like knitting, sewing and embroidery.
Sarla from Manav Seva Samiti (Raghubir Nagar_) is clear in her understanding of phase out. She views even a child when she steps out of teens is expected by parents to be on her own. Such comments does reflect "phase out" as a concept and strategy being rightly understood. Deepalaya is confident that the community will move towards 'Swaraj' visioned by Gandhiji.
Restore Childhood Project
Despite ratifying the convention of the Rights of the Child by the Govt. of India and to seek protection of chidlren everywhere against exploitation, neglect and abuse. Millions of children are engaged in factories, workshops, establishments, mines and in the service sector such as domestic labour. The govt. emphasise that it is the states obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination.
Government declaration to ensure full physical, mental and social development of the children is far from reality. Increasingly it is felt that NGOs should take a lead and work alongside the Government to eradicate malnutrition, illiteracy, exploitation and abuse.
Restore Childhood Project of Deepalaya is one such programme, which aims at bringing back the essence of childhood in the lives of children in the slums. Distinct featues of the inhabitants of the slums are, they are migrants in search of better economic status in life but they have found themselves caught in the web of unemployment or are employed in the unorganised sectors on dialy wages, unable to cope up with their aspirations.
Understandably the children from these slum pockets have no access to education or health, these children have a weak family support base, they usually look out for work on city streets to contribute their share in families survival. The children are witness to domestic violence, prevalent social ills like drinking, taking drugs, prostitution which tend to leave strong negative impressions on child's mind. This is detrimental and prevent the child to grow as a complete human being.
Restore childhood programme was launched in the year 1997 covering Karpoor Thakur Camp, V.P.Singh Camp, Sonia Camp and Manav Kalyan Vihar in South Delhi. The main purpose of the programme is to create a conducive environment for the children and the essence of their childhood restored through bringing back happiness and freedom, by lessening social, emotional and physical burden, and providing opportunities while eradicating social, economic and phusical exploitation and abuse.
In accordance with Deepalaya's belief that Education is an instrument for social transormation, the Restore Childhood Programme emphasizes in establishing formal, non formal and remedial education centres in each of the four slum clusters. According to the data available as on April 1998, Deepalaya has established 4 Pre school units, 6 REC units, 1 NFE unit, 2 NFE (special), 1 Disability unit and has covered 366 children and their families. The restore childhood project plans to establish by the year 2000, 26 nits of Pre School, 32 units of REC, 10 units of NFE, 7 special units for the working children, 6 units of formal school and 3 units for the disabled children, covering 2500 children in all in the 4 slums.
The programme provides books, copies, uniforms and take children on picnics and educational tours. The programme has established Science and Entertainment clubs which organises sports meets, science fairs, cultural events so as to involve more categories of children.
This programme in order to mobilize and involve mothers, has organised "Mothers group" at each location. Members of Mother's Group through Deepalaya organises fairs, rallies on issues like health related problems, child abuse, disability etc. which are steps towards harnessing greater community participation.
The programme has been able to lower the drop out rate from the Govt. schools by roganising workshops and counselling sessions.
The programme addresses the health needs of children by conducting regular programme for pre and post natal care of mothers and children to ensure happy childhood. Besides, immunisation and health check ups are regular features of the programme.
Deepalaya has been successful in organising thrift and credit groups, cluster groups whicha re aimed at making the community realise the need on educating their children. Street theatres, group meetings, cultural programmes are regular features of the programme to increase involvement of parents.
Deepalaya'S Restore Childhood programme is an attempt to create conditions which are favourable for normal and balanced growth of vulnerable urban chilDren.
Library cum Community Health Centre at V.P.Singh camp under the Restore Childhood Programme was inaugurated by Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary & Chief Executive, Deepalaya on 15th June '98.