New Delhi - January - March 2002
Kavita Datt, Indo-Asian News Wins Deepalaya Award For Child Rights
For the fourth year in a row, the Deepalaya Award for Child Rights has gone to a female journalist. The Award winner for the year 2002 is Ms. Kavita Bajeli Datt, Senior Correspondent with the Indo-Asian News Service.
The jury selected Kavita, for her consistent and researched writing on gender discrimination and child abuse. According to Mr. Sanjoy Hazarika - columnist, author and chairman of the jury, "This Award is a testament to those journalists who write about issues that need to be heard. It may not make front page news but even if they can compel even a small population to make a difference, the program objective is met".
The award was presented at The Constitution Club in New Delhi on January 7th, 2003. Ms. Kavita received the award of Rs.21,000/-, a citation and a trophy from the Chief Guest, Mr. Pavan Varma, eminent author and Indian Ambassador to Cyprus.
Mr. Varma praised, "Journalists like Kavita who bring to light issues like human rights, and especially child rights make a difference in the lives of others."
Kavita's response to the honor: "The work I'm doing is hardly touching the proverbial tip of the iceberg! There is still a long way to go in sensitizing the masses to the plight of children in our country." Kavita has decided to donate a part of the prize money to the welfare of an impoverished girl child from Uttaranchal, her native state.
Alumni In The Spotlight
I am Sonia Kashyap, currently studying in XIIth grade from the Deepalaya National Open School Program. Today I am also working as a dress designer with a garment house.
I come from a family of five. My father works in a roadside hotel and my mother is a housewife. I have a younger brother and sister. My parents have always dreamt of a secure future for their children.
What I shall always value of my years at Deepalaya School is the loving care and guidance I received from everyone. My teachers always encouraged us to be ambitious and work hard to fulfill our potential.
Besides my formal education, Deepalaya provided me with training at The Samuel Foundation which has enabled me to secure a job and contribute to the family income. My ambition is to have my own boutique, and with Deepalaya's support, I believe my dream will be realized. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.
US University Students Partner With Ramditti School
The Michigan based Urban Agenda / Civil Literacy Project, located at Wayne State University launched its International School to School Project at The Ramditti J.R. Narang Deepalaya School, located in South Delhi on March 4th, 2003. The event was marked with beautiful singing and dancing from all classes.
The idea, says Ms. Lynne Partington, Project Director, International School to School Project, is to enable the students to learn about other cultures on a personal basis. "I believe the only path to peace is through communication. We really let the kids take the initiative to learn about the other culture. These are lessons that they won't forget. For instance, we helped build a school in Afghanistan. When the US started bombing Afghanistan, our children cried because they were afraid their friends would be killed. This type of understanding and compassion can only be fostered on a personal level."
The Deepalaya School has been equipped with a TV/VCR, and backup support. Both parties assured each other that this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship to come. Speaking on the occasion, Rtn. T.K.Mathew Chief Executive, Deepalaya said "Partnering with international universities enables our children to gain an understanding of the cultural diversity around the world".
The children performed traditional Indian classical forms as well as a moving performance of "We Shall Overcome" in both English and Hindi.
Gusbethi Growing By Leaps And Bounds!
On 8th January, Dr. Kees de Jong and Dr. Dik Verboom of the Dutch Edukans Foundation inaugurated the formal school in Deepalaya Gram, a project in the village of Gusbethi, 60 kilometers from Delhi. It is aimed at rehabilitating street children and educating village children.
At present, the formal school in Gusbethi has a total enrolment of 322 students, including 101 girl children. This is a great achievement for a backward area like Gusbethi where girls often do not have educational opportunities. Forty-eight of the boys are street children, who used to live and work on the streets and railway stations of Delhi.
Apart from the Dutch visitors, there were representatives from the Aravalli Education Foundation, Maulana Azad Foundation, Butterflies, Hydrology Project, and a large congregation of self-help group women present at the inaugural function. School children impressed these guests by performing several cultural programmes from the Oscar-nominated film "Lagaan".
A New Beginning
Another cherished dream of Deepalaya is being realized by the generous support from the Government of Japan for Hostel cum Rehabilitation Project for Girl Children. The Embassy of Japan in India, under its scheme "Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects" extended a grant worth US $78,854 to Deepalaya on February 11th for the construction of the girls' hostel. The hostel will be located in Deepalaya Gram in the village Ghusbethi, 60 kms from Delhi.
This hostel will reach out to run away girl children who live and work on the streets, girl children of sex workers and girl children of life term convicts. Our objective is to rehabilitate these children by equipping them with education, vocational skills and a congenial environment which will nurture their personality, confidence and leadership abilities.
The Warm Touch
Latter-Day Saint Charities, a humanitarian project providing relief to people who are adversely affected by the extremely cold conditions, provided over 500 blankets to Deepalaya.
The blankets were distributed amongst the villagers in Mewat and to slum dwellers in Delhi where Deepalaya is actively involved in community development work. Priority distribution was given to the elderly without family support, those with very small children and those who are ill. Blankets were also obtained from TouchTel, a telecommunications company and Youth Reach, an NGO promoting volunteerism among the youth.
Hydrology Project Helps India Manage Its Water
Water, a basic need for all of us. Without water there is simply no life. Because water has always been there, we have taken it for granted, never truly realizing its worth till now. As water shortages in India become chronic, we realize that water is a limited resource, which needs to be managed efficiently. The Hydrology Project has set up an extensive information system across nine states in peninsular India to facilitate a more efficient management of water resources.
Efficient management of a scarce resource like water requires reliable data. To obtain these data, measurements need to be taken in the field. For this purpose there are observation stations such as rainfall, river and groundwater stations. The recorded data are then computerized. In short, a Hydrological Information System (HIS) has to be established.
Renowned social activist Ms Nafisa Ali attended the demonstration and had a dialogue with many of the girls present. Reporters from all the major national newspapers and television channels covered the protest.
Data about Indian water resources have been recorded for many years. However, the information available was limited, difficult
to access and often did not lend itself for accurate designing and planning of the country's water resources. To improve this situation, the Indian government decided to set up a more comprehensive HIS. In 1995, the Hydrology Project started, which covered all aspects of hydrological information in nine peninsular states of India.
Through the project the collection, recording, compilation, storing and processing of hydrological data has been greatly improved. As a result, reliable hydrological information on both quantity and quality of surface and groundwater is now easily available. For the users, it means an easier access to the information through the Internet. Planners, water managers, researchers and farmers associations - they all use this valuable information for purposes like droughts and floods monitoring, designing highway structures, planning on inter-state river basin development, assessment of groundwater levels and testing water quality for public health.
Accurate hydrological information, if used intelligently, can actually transform people's lives. Every water user, whether it is a government body, a farmer or domestic user, has a stake in managing water. They have to use water with thought and care and conserve this precious resource for future generations. By providing accurate data the HIS helps them - and all of us - to take this responsibility seriously.
Annual Exchange Programme
On January 20th, 2003, Deepalaya School, Kalkaji Extension welcomed friends from the American Embassy School as part of the annual interaction/exchange program. Fourth graders spent a day of fun and frolic with their counterparts from the slums, playing games and exchanging information. The children were divided into pairs and each pair put down its impressions of peace on wooden cut outs of doves and colored them brightly. With these colorful messengers of peace, war and strife are challenged by our future generation of leaders.
On The Move
The Namtech Business School (located in South Delhi) recently provided mobility aids to the physically challenged at Deepalaya project locations in South Delhi. The beneficiaries were identified through a survey conducted in eleven South Delhi slum locations from over 700 differently abled people. For someone like Sartaz, a victim of cerebral palsy, the wheel chair makes life easier for his mother as he can now move around independently. For others like Saheed, the wheelchair enables his livelihood in Okhla Sabzi Mandi where he sells vegetables. Thank you to Namtech.
CIDA Officials Visit The Khori Slum Project
Khori is a slum located on the southern outskirts of Delhi. Deepalaya, with the support of CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) is running a project for adolescent girls in seven slums around Delhi. The girls welcomed CIDA for a tour of the project in January.
It was a momentous occasion for the inhabitants of Khori when they ceremoniously received the honorable Gilbert Parent, Ambassador of The Department of Foreign Affairs' and International Trade who was accompanied by Julie Rehai Rickerd, Senior Advisor, and Ms. Upala Devi Banerjee, Coordinator-Child Development Fund & Governor Support Fund.
The officials were given a traditional welcome, followed by a visit to the educational and skill training centers. They were then treated to a display of locally made handicrafts. Mr. Parent, in his address to the community, expressed his happiness at the determination of the women to succeed despite enormous obstacles resulting from their location and socio-economic status. The women of Khori thank CIDA for their kind support.
Prohibition Campaign A Success!
For the residents of village Bissar Akbarpur, happy days are here again. Total prohibition or Daru Band Abhiyan has been introduced in the village, thanks to the efforts of Deepalaya.
With a mixed population of Ahirs and Dalits, the village faced severe social and health problems due to excessive drinking. Deepalaya developed self help groups, empowering the women, and ensuring economic self-reliance.
Around 160 women from these self-help groups joined the Daru Band movement. Many of whom participate in Deepalaya initiated income generation programs. The women's groups are now collectively opposing social oppressors in the village.
With the full support of the sarparch(headman) Shri. Rattan Singh, a group of 25 youths, regularly make rounds of the village. Anyone found indulging in drinking is fined anywhere between Rs 250 to 500/- which is deposited in the panchayat. The funds collected will be used for welfare projects within the village. Needless to say, the villagers fully appreciate the change facilitated by the Deepalaya team. "It was a big challenge reasoning with the men folk who are habituated to drinking. The women demonstrated great leadership and collective strength as they were the most affected by alcoholism," said Ms. Thakur, Project Coordinator, Deepalaya.
Deepalaya In UAE
It was an opportunity to renew contacts and make new ones. Although Deepalaya did not have a stall at the Indian pavilion of the Dubai Shopping Fest this year, we were present for networking with our sponsors and donors in the UAE. The response we received was not only encouraging, but challenges us to meet the demand of greater numbers of our benefactors and the constituency we serve.
Friends of Deepalaya in the U.K. is now a registered charity (Reg No. 1094080). Friends of Deepalaya has obtained inland revenue authorization which means the charity can claim back taxes from the government to the tune of 28% of the donation. That means Deepalaya receives an additional 28% of each contribution, while the donors still receive their charitable tax deduction.
To The Editor
I came to Deepalaya from France for a six month internship. The dedication and professionalism of the staff taught me a great deal about the poverty situation in India, the methods of the organization and, about myself. My field work provided me with unforgettable interactions with the children, giving me great joy along with the opportunity to really understand the impact of Deepalaya's efforts. Through physically disabled children like Chand Bano and Farhat who received surgery and education, and through working children I met at the railroad station and then later played with at their new home in Gusbethi, I had the chance to actually witness change and upliftment, and may be even be a part of it.
Volunteering with Deepalaya