New Delhi - April - June 1999
A Peep Into 20 Years of Philanthropy
For the readers who are new, we would like to inform you that year 1999 is very special year for Deepalaya. It marks 20 years of our philanthropic pursuit "to enable the child look beyond slums". Inorder to commemorate the two decades, we are carrying a special series, in the newsletter, on significant happenings, achievements and groth phases of Deepalaya.
In the January-March issue we have given an overview of the first decade of Deepalaya. The first decade saw Deepalaya initiating child development through education and entering the urban integrated development programmes with support of Save the Children, Aide et Action, ICCO and PLAN International also establishing vital linkage with Foundation for Christian Education. The decade also marked the beginning
of Deepalaya's own sponsorship administration to serve as a live link and medium for sharing information between sponsor parents and children.
The year 1990-91 was marked by establishing 22 community based organisations with the objectives of organsiing communities into forums to promote the process of collective decision making and creating local revolving funds. During the year Deepalaya also became a grantee of the Human Resource Development Ministry for running non formal education centres. But the most significant happening of the year was setting up of the Fund raising desk for raising funds in India in order to pre-empt any unforeseen occurence which may hamper the flow of funds from abroad and thus affecting the operation. Importantly the division received a boost when the first resident Indian sponsor parent was recruited this year.
In the following year, 1992, Deepalaya formal school which was originally functining from Chittaranjan Park was shifted to Sanjay Colony in Okhla Industrial Area Phase-II which is more spacious and independent. The year also witnessed Deepalaya establishing a crucial linkage with National Open School, a perfect solution for neo-literates, school drop outs, working youth and adults for continuing education. Abhinaya, an effort to bring together children from public schools and children from the slums through the medium of play acting was experimented for the first time during the year. Importnantly the board decided to rechristen Deepalaya Education Society to 'Deepalaya', because Deepalaya ever since 1979, had come a longway from its sole activity of education to integrated development involving enhancement, skill upgradation and community health.
Deepalaya launched the 'Girl Child Project' a step to give the disadvantaged half of humankind a chance to look beyond the discriminating factors widely prevalent in society.
The dram of setting up of a second formal school became a reality with initiating Ramditti JR Narang Deepalaya School, a unique venture of an effective Corporate-NGO Partnership in reaching education to the underprivileged and deprived. Deepalaya also reached out to many countries in the Middle East and South East Asia regions by resourcing slots in satellite channels like Zee and STAR. Deepalaya was the first NGO to experiment this strategy. The efforts resulted in enrolling large number of sponsors from abroad and withing the country as well. In its seventeenth year, 1995-96 Deepalaya diversified its operations to newer areas like upliftment of street and working children and a special programme for children with disability. The year saw a long cherished dream to acquire land and establishing a formal school to educate and nurture over 2,500 underprivileged children.
In the year 1997, it was a moment of glory when 60 children visited Holland to participate in a cultural exchange programme organised by Foundation for Christian Education. The visit has been a step forward in strengthening relationship with its funding body in Holland. Also the year saw launching of Computer Education Programme for the children from slums in partnership with Tata Infotech, another instance of Corporate NGO partnership.
Another aspect of the year was implementation of the Restore Childhood Project which aims at expanding the sphere of helping children in the lsums to identify their hidden talents apart from providing broad based education to ensure holistic development. Rural development activities by Deepalaya was initiated during the year in Mewat region of Haryana. The Resource Centre at Gusbethi has pre schools and sewing center. In the following year, construction of Deepalaya school in Kalkaji Extension was completed and inaugurated on 1st August '98 becoming the third formal school run by Deepalaya. Meanwhile construction of Deepalaya Human Resource Centre at Janakpuri is nearing completion. The centre would be imparting training in development subjects and HRD. Deepalaya's own sponsorship programme crossed 1270 mark with equal number of NRI and sponsors from within the country. Keeping track with information technology Deepalaya entered web marketing with its home page giving chance to make Deepalaya globally known. The organisation concentrated on strengthening brand positioning of Deepalaya using proven devices like Direct Mail, Advertising, Donation Boxes and some of the traditional means like participating in fairs and festivals giving a chance to project Deepalaya among the common masses.
Thus, the second decade witnessed effort from a drop in the ocean to a ripple making Deepalaya mission a people's movement. As we march into the next millennium Deepalaya hopes in restoring the childhood of mah more children.
Geeta, Living for Better Tomorrow
What can you say about 10 year old girl, Geeta, an amazingly confident young girl with undefeated look in her eyes.... she was born with severe disability. Within 6 days of her birth she was struck with cerebral palsy, which leads to loosing voluntary control of muscles.
Geeta's father, Ramkalap came to Delhi from Faizabad with his two daughters, a son and his wife for Geeta's treatment. His own people in vilalge, suggested to abandon Geeta since for them it would be difficult to get her married because of her disability. But Ramkalap and Sita decided against it! In Delhi they settled in Transit Camp in a rented room. The fellow slum dwellers suggested, that they should contact Deepalaya. Deepalaya runs a Special Unit in Transit Camp slum pocket for disabled children, helping them to overcome 'dependence' and giving them the vital push where they could look at future with confidence.
The centre arranges appliances and aids for such children. Specialised therapy and communication skills are also reached to children with disability in the slums. The parents are extremely poor, have little or no access to the opportunities, information, rehabilitation programmes which are available for disabled, Deepalaya plays an important role in disseminating information and forming linkages for such children in the slums. The centre has formed linkage with SSNI to provide services to provide stimulation, training care and respite for the children with multiple disabilities and their families.
Since last six months, Geeta has been coming regularly to the centre, she has been responding well to the treatments. Today, she can manage to change clothes on her own, can eat by herself and drinks water from tap on her own. Her mother said that Geeta has been getting ready for her school on her own and even onholidays she wants to go to school.
Early detection and intervention has prevented Geeta from isolation and alientation. She can be seen plahing with other normal children in her locality and slowly with the training support of a speech therapist she has been picking up concepts of sign language to explain herself.
Geeta is one among 200 disabled children to whom Deepalaya has shown ways to express themselves and prove their capabilities through 8 CBR units in slums.
Abhinay Samuh - An Attempt to Promote Social Change
Each day with growing economic exploitation, corruption, violence and social disparity theatrical expression can contribute meaningfully for change in the society. "Abhinaya Samuh" a nukkad (street theatre) group of talented youth capture various social issues/problems and attempts to animate the marginalised sections for a social change.
The group was formed in 1995 with support of Deepalaya. Initially the group had 8 members who were trained at Deepalaya and also through linkage with NSD. The group now has over 150 shows to its credit. The group tries to capture the nuances and tensions of the period and most importnantly a desire for change. According to play wright-director Pavan the group uses folk and modern forms to convey messages on serious issues like AIDS, Girl Child, Communal Harmony, Disability, Environment, Addiction and Child Rights. Over the years group has gained knowledge on these issues through workshops conducted by Deepalaya.
The group which has grown to 12, hopes to get itself registered. They has a bank account of their own. According to Kishori, one of the members, despite commitments at home and studies, the members do not miss the daily rehearsals which are held between 8-10 p.m at Deepalaya recreation centre in Golekuan. When Pavan wa asked, what is behind the groups success he pointed out 'discipline' and he hopes the group will continue with its splendid performances in future too. The group changes a nomian sum of Rs.1,500 and conveyance for a show. The group can be contacted at 6283790,6283791
Street & working children have a New Home
Since 26th February twenty children of street and working children NDRS unit have a new home at Sanjay Colony, away from their work place i.e. Railway platforms. This attempt is seen as a first step to bring about attitudinal changes, develop positive values and reduce insecurity.
This centre is accomodated in Deepalaya complex at Sanjay Colony. The unit will impart skills and integrate these children in regular formal school system.
The Warden of the centre pointed out that shifting to this place has helped in ensuring regularity of these children, as they will not run away to their previous bad habits. The unit inculcates in them a feeling of 'belonging' and facilitate to acquire knowledge and skills.
The centre also has a recreation cum play facility which is so important for the children for their physical and moral development. The centre proposes to start courses in Electronics, Motor Mechanic, Plumbing, AC & Refrigeration repairing, while Typing, Tailoring & Cutting and Play Acting exists. The programme would continue to have contact points and platform schools in New Delhi Railway Station and Nizamuddin Railway Platforms. This procedure would help the social workers build close rapport with street children and isolate them from the harsh circumstances by shifting them to the centre.
Krishan Kumar who till last year use to work as a waiter in a Dhaba said "We wouldn't have become responsible and there wouldn't have been any improvement if we had to stay on the platform. Here at the centre I get everything, a good place to sleep, eat, study and play". This is a small effort of Deepalaya to respect inborn rights of children and their basic needs.
Reproductive Health and Family Planning Workshops
Young women and men world wide are vulnerable especially to reproductive health problems. In the slums this problem becomes more acute as literacy level and knowledge on the subject of reproductive health and sex do not exist. During the month of March Golekuan Project had organised series of workshops with expertise of Parivar Seva Sansthan and funding from SOSVA.
The workshop had a special session for adolescent girls as they suffer largely from no knowledge of pregnancies, STDs, including HIV and other related problems of reproductive health. It also touched upon the issues of pregnancy, contraception and family planning.
Individual counselling sessions were held for women. The facilitators used flip charts, film shows and leaflets were distributed in the community. Counsellors in some cases visitedhomes to talk to the families about importance of reproductive health. Similar Workshops were also held in Jagdamba Camp and Kuchi Colony under Khirki Project. Infact women from the area have pledged to undergo tubectomy operations.
Cultural Exchange Programme
"The huma mind incessantly seeks novelty, excitement... it is never enough to savour the fragrance of the experience. One must always move on to experiences which are new".
The above quote rightly describes the recent visit of 20 children from Holland to Deepalaya on an unique cultural exchange programme. The visit which begun on 17th February was a reciprocation to a visit of Inidan children to Holland in 1997. The visit which was sponsored by Foundation for Christian Education, Holland, was envisaged for closer interaction between the children of Holland and from Deepalaya. During the week long visit, children had opportunities to exchange ideas, experiences and culture.
The group while visiting project locations of Deepalaya learnt lessons in making rangoli, applying Mehndi, making pottery, preparing Indian Cuisine and learning steps of India dances. Beauty of Taj caught visitors spell bound!
The visit culminated in a grand finale organised at American Embassy School which saw children across continets coming together on a common platform. The event-Abhinaya, an annual feature which brings the haves and have nots together, went a step ahead when it became a platform for a meaningful integration of cultures, languages and races. For many os us who were presenton that day, it never seemed human being are constrained by boundaries. Welcoming the guests Mr.T.K.Mathew, Secretary & Chief Executive, Deepalaya underlined, "Abhinaya is envisaged to discover talents among the children and paves way for developing closer understanding among the haves and have nots of the society".
Speaking on the occasion the Chief Guest, Ms.Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Minister of State for External Affairs expressed her desire to be associate with Deepalaya's mission and lauded the role of Deepalaya in giving equal opportunity to the marginalised and most vulnerable sections of the society. The distinguished gathering included noted painter Satish Gujral, noted activist and actress Shabana Azmi, Femina Miss India Universe Gul Panag and author bureaucrat Pawan Verma and Mr.Dik Verboom of Foundation for Christian Education (Holland). In her address Shabana Azmi expressed the need for people based movement in the upliftment of weaker and deprived sections. The beauty Queen, Gul in her brief address congratulated the children and hoped Deepalaya would achieve its goal of bringing the extreme ends of our social structures closer.
Mr.Dik Verboom of Foundation for Christian Education, expresed the visit was a memorable one and hoped it would achieve the desired obejctive of a long term relationship between children of Deepalaya and Holland.
The cultural evenings programme included a musical piece 'I believe I can' by American School Choir and middle school band playing 'Selections from Grease'. The Dutch school children rendered a song expressing their joy on being selected for visit to India. Children of British School presented a play based on the victimisation of Aboriginals by the white settlers.
Deepalaya school children presented a popular play the 'Pied Piper of Hamelin' based on the poem by Robert Browning. Children also enthralled the audience with spell bounding choreography based on popular number of late maestro Anand Shankar.
At the end children from all the participating schools were presented trophies, mementos and certificates.
JUST A BOY, MY FRIEND
Martyn, A Dutch Child Writes About His Experience
"Today I went to the nigh shelter for street and working children of Deepalaya. The children work in New Delhi Railway Station. In the night shelter they are familiarised, they get food and education. There I met Raju Laxman. He is 14 years old and is in the centre for one year. He earns his money by carrying luggage as a colli. He wants to be a scooter repir man. If you ask him about this, his face glitters with enthusiasm. Later, when we said good buy, he asked me to become friends. I got the impression that this meeting was very important for him. Although we live in different worlds, we can be friends. But how to become friends after one conversation? Still, I said yes, Far away, but yet so close! I gave him a little string (armband) as a token of our friendship and I know I will remember him".
Narrow lanes of Sonia Camp and Manav Kalyan Vihar in recent days has amused many passers by. It is an innovative and novel way to reach education to those who need the most. The project was experimented for the first time in February with Balwadi Class in Sonia Camp 30 children between 3-5 years on rolls. Since then 2 additional Non formal education classes have been started for children of age between 6-10 years.
The curriculum includes knowledge of alphabets, basic mathematics, sentence building, and word formation, importantly it makes children familiar with school. The experimentation is aimed at teaching these children at their door steps, the school makes these children afeel at home, and doesn't insist on strict attendance and uniform academic codes.
The children sit on durries put on the lanes. They try to solve the puzzles written on the black board. The schol pays special emphasis on training children for entrance examination who would like to join formal and regular schooling.
Water is Healthy Life
In the slums, majority of health hazards are due to water borne diseases. Diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, polio, typhoid, guineaworm... the list is long. So providing access to safe drinking water can solve many of these health hazards. Similar thoughts revolved around organizing a week long campaign beginning March 24th in ensuring access to safe drinking water. The campaign was spread in all the 11 project locations under South Delhi Project. The timing has been appropriate as summers are approaching. During the week long campaign five workshops were conducted to throw light on how we can ensure safely of drinking water, ways of conserving water, prufying water and knowing diseases caused by water borne micro organism. The health workers used pictorial depictions, special IEC materials which were designed by Deepalaya team giving total insight into safe drinking water. Rallies were taken out to spread awareness on the theme-water is healthy life.
On the concluding day an Exhibition was held at Karpuri Thakur Camp where displays on safe drinking water were put, and purifying & water testing techniques were demonstrated. Winning entries in Poster competitions and slogan writing competitions were put on display. The exhibition was inaugurated by Mr.T.K.Mathew (Secretary & Chief Executive), Deepalaya. Inaugurating the exhibition, Mr.Mathew spoke how un safe water can pose a major health hazard and indicated that children were the worst hit.
The entire programme was supported by National Environment Awareness Campaign. In the end prizes were given to the winners of various competitions.
Different India Movement
Different India Movement is a one year joint campaign to show the joint effort of people can transform our country for good, in achieving positive changes. The movement aims at building a large social and moral force with a single objective of humanizing India, which can overcome pain, suffering, violence, discrimination and corruption, thus making happiness and freedom the underlining feature.
The first such jointly co-ordinated public event of Delhi Chapter was held on 4th April at Delhi Heat with various NGOs and individuals participating on this occasion. Deepalaya which has lent its support from the very beginning took lead in the proceedings. The street theatre group of Deepalaya, the 'abhinaya samuh' presented street play on how do children perceive-a different India.
The children from Deepalaya's street and working children project also presented a street play on Child Labour and emphasized the need for people's participation in getting rid of this widely prevalent form of exploitation. Children translated their thoughts of different India into canvass in a special painting competition organised for the children.
Children also took part in the march organised by the movement which went round the Delhi Haat in an effort to involve others who would like to see India a beautiful place for us and for our future generations.
The mood was surely upbeat among the social workers of Deepalaya working in the Tagore Basti under South Delhi Project, when construction of Education Centre was completed. There were so many hurdles, like few anti social elements provoking the community not to cooperate with Deepalaya, reservations against sending children to school and many more, but in the end after series of meetings with the community, they were motivated to come forward in construction work and they also collected community contribution for the construction. The centre will have a pre-school, NFE centre, Remedial Education programme, play way method of teaching and special night classes for working children. The centre is expected to become operational from April and will benefit 250 children from the community who earn their bread mainly from Rag picking.
Eye Care Camps
Deepalaya joined hands with Shroff Charitable Eye Hospital to reach Eye care facilities to the community in the Shalimar Bagh Are-Bana Godown, Gouri Shankar, BG-1, Ambedkar Camp etc.
The programme will touch upon all aspects related to eye problems like Glaucoma, Trachoma and prevention of blindness. The programme will hold camps each week, identify cases, diagnose and refer them to Shroff Hospital for treatment and surgeries. Deepalaya's role in the programme will be to mobilise the community. The programme is aimed at providing proper eye care to the community in the slums, at virtually no cost.
Inauguration of Human Resource Centre at Plot No.46,Janakpuri Institutional Area, New Delhi-110058 will take place during June 1999. This newly constructed centre will serve as a training centre to provide training to grass root and front line workers of Deepalaya. The center will also develop the human resource at the community level namely the Social Entrepreneurs through whom the process of empowerment, capacity building and social transformation of weaker communities would be achieved.