New Delhi - January - March 2004

Celebrating Womanhood

Tavru, 2nd March 2004. The Deepalaya project office wore a colorful look. For the women of Mewat, attired in bright colors had taken over. This was the day when the Dewan Foundation supported 'Micro Enterprise Finance Program', was launched with a grant of Rs.10 lakh.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ramesh Dewan, Trustee congratulated the women of Mewat and the Deepalaya team for coming together on a development platform and working for a collective benefit. Senior Bank officials,district development officers and the villagers also graced the occasion.

In 1998, Deepalaya's rural development initiative started in the Tavru Block of Mewat (Haryana). The area dominated by the Meo Muslims is known for the backward conditions of the women. Through health interventions and capacity building programs, supported by various agencies, we developed the necessary rapport among the women folk. A major thrust has been on the organization and management of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the area.

The women of Mewat on the joyous path to empowerment

Since then, with the support of the Mewat Development Agency(MDA) and the District Rural Development Authority(DRDA), 148 SHG's (with over 1900 members), were formed in 69 of the 84 villages Deepalaya has been in touch with. Of these 39 SHG's are constituted entirely by women. The total savings as on 31st January 2004 was Rs.14,06,776. A total of Rs.38,70,760 has been disbursed as loans. Ninety nine percent of the amount due for repayment has been recovered. This has been possible as the SHGs function on the principle of mutual support and group pressure.

Today almost all the SHG's are continuing with regular savings, meetings, loan disbursement and prompt repayment. Many members are now in a position to start micro enterprises, if provided with easy loans.

The Dewan Foundation support will now help them realize their dreams. Says Shubhani from Bhutlakha village, "I want to rear buffaloes and sell the milk to the Government Plant. It will now be easier to get a loan". The fund is expected to grow treble in the next five years and nearly 300 rural women would be enabled to start a micro enterprise.

"It is a coincidence that when the world gets ready to celebrate International Women's Day, the Dewan Foundation has chosen to come forward with this enormous support. For us at Deepalaya everyday is Women's Day as we go about encouraging women's participation in all walks of life," says Ms. Thakur Program Manager at Deepalaya.

Mr. Dewan addressing the women

At the Delhi Project, the Foundation has sponsored the education of a hundred girl children from deserving backgrounds. Support for additional batches of training in beauty culture, computer hardware & air-conditioning & refrigeration has also been provided by them.

The winners being felicitated by Ms. Shubha Mudgal renowned artist

In Feb 2004, over 30 children and adults (mentally challenged) from the various Deepalaya projects, participated in the Special Olympics Bharat, a national sports program for the mentally challenged. And they came back with 30 medals (9 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze). The event included athletics, bocee and floor hockey, Congratulations to the participants; they have done us proud. This victory says it loud and clear. "All we need is a chance to prove our abilities - and don't look at us only for our DISABILITIES".

Alumni In The Spotlight

I am Shikha Singh, a Deepalaya alumni, teaching at the School in Gole Kuan for the past two years.

My father was a vegetable hawker and my mother a housewife. My younger sister is mentally challenged. My parents never wanted to send me to school. But the Deepalaya team convinced them and I was enrolled in UKG. After the VIIIth grade I completed schooling from a Government School. I am now pursuing my graduation from Delhi University. My sister too has attended a special education program at Deepalaya.

Caring, patiently guiding , encouraging - that's what my teachers at Deepalaya have always been. Even though I changed school, I could always come back to Deepalaya for assistance. Today, I am married and have an eight month old son.I am able to give him quality care as Deepalaya has taught me much more than academics. My plans are to grow as a teacher.

It is satisfying to motivate and teach children from the slum communities. I am a living example of how education can change lives. I hope to change many more and I am grateful to Deepalaya for giving me this opportunity.

A Solid Reference

In April 2003, Anand Mahesh an advertising executive, read about Deepalaya. He came in to find out more,went back impressed and determined to volunteer his skills as a copywriter. However professional deadlines did not leave him any time.

In Dec 2003 Anand referred us to a client who was looking for a credible NGO to support. Today, the Deepalaya girl child education program has been further enhanced with a grant of 7500USD from INTELSAT (USA). This will help us further promote girl child education at the formal schools, and increase the enrollment rate of girls to atleast 50 percent. Thank you Anand and all those of you who have staunchly stood by us and gathered support for our efforts. You have helped us 'enable marginalized communities to head towards a secure and dignified future.'

In Feb 2004, over 30 children and adults (mentally challenged) from the various Deepalaya projects, participated in the Special Olympics Bharat, a national sports program for the mentally challenged. And they came back with 30 medals (9 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze). The event included athletics, bocee and floor hockey, Congratulations to the participants; they have done us proud. This victory says it loud and clear. "All we need is a chance to prove our abilities - and don't look at us only for our DISABILITIES".

The Playground that Changes

Ghusbethi, 20th February 2004.

It was that time of the year when spring was in the air and the sun was shining bright. The guests applauded as Ms. Adelina Furstenberg, President, Art for the World,(a Swiss NGO) unveiled the plaque dedicating the 'New Play ground' to the children.

The playground has been developed with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Co operation. Ghusbethi is the hub of our rural development work reaching out to street children and villages of Mewat. This is the second project at Deepalaya. The first was inaugurated at Deepalaya School, Kalkaji in 2002. The playground at Ghusbethi includes flexible slabs which can be converted into different rooms for the children to play in and a mammoth size football, which the children are most excited about. "Street children get bored very easily. These innovative play structures are just the right kind to keep them busy," says Mr.Ritwik Patra, Deputy Director, Programs, at Deepalaya.

Deepalaya has always focused on the all round development of children. Sports plays a crucial role in this. The playfield at the School in Kalkaji Extension is now equipped with basket ball, cricket, volleyball, badminton and kho kho courts. This has been possible with the financial support of Sapient Corporation, American Express Bank and VOICE (Kuwait). "With these facilities we will be able to nurture the sporting talents and give the students yet another opportunity to come up in life," says Ms.Pal the Principal.

A Meaningful Exchange

In January 2004 Deepalaya played host to 13 American NGO leaders. This was part of an Exchange program funded by the State Department.These NGO's were part of the Child Welfare League of America(CWLA) a network of over 1200 NGO's.

The Americans visited nine Indian NGOs and enjoyed their exposure to Indian programs and situations. Noted was their interests in advocacy issues on juvenile justice, early childhood care, integrated child development, inclusion of the disabled, child labour, gender equity, volunteerism and advocacy for child rights.

In February,ten NGO leaders from Delhi, led by Deepalaya visited America for a similar exchange. They attended a week long CWLA conference and visited individual welfare programs in and around Washington and Virginia. Later the team went to Tallahassey in Florida and attended the youth week activities as well as residential care programs run by NGOs with state support. The state collaboration in favour of the child was some thing one would like to emulate.

Says Mr.T K Mathew of Deepalaya, "For the Indian NGOs the most facinating experience was the approach to advocacy. The methodology of NGOs approaching the Senators and Congressmen at federal and state level. with issues relating to child welfare was good learning. The study on the science of politics gave insights into how right to information is used to the advantage of children. Overall the Exchange was not only unique and first of its kind but was found mutually useful and afforded learning. The follow up program built into it will help NGOs improve their capacities in advocacy work."

AES Cards Sale

The VIth grade of American Embassy School has raised over Rs. 1,12,000 through greeting cards sale. This will help furnish the Deepalaya Girl Child Hostel under construction at Gusbethi. To understand more about street children, a group visited the New Delhi Railway platform. The feelings ranged from shock, surprise, "revolting" to wonder. "We are happy that we have been able to raise funds to help these children have a better future" says Elise Foxall, one of their faculty.

The Deepalaya AES partnership has helped both groups grow emotionally and socially as they widen their horizons through activities contributing to the welfare of others.And in this process the students understand themselves better too.

Running for a Cause

One hundred and forty five children and staff represented Deepalaya at the Annual Terry Fox Run held on 8th February 2004. The purpose was to raise money for cancer research. "Its exciting to be part of this international movement. We are happy that we are able to contribute to cancer research by participating in this run," says Lalita from the Sanjay Colony slums in South Delhi.

Reversed Roles

A Teacher's Training Program is being conducted for Deepalaya teachers since December 2003. This is being supported by Mr.Jyoti Sagar, eminent lawyer and a Friend of Deepalaya. The training syllabus has been worked out in consultation with eminent child educationalists/ psychologists. The focus is on childhood behaviour, communication skills, improved teaching methodologies etc. The aim is to make both teaching and learning a participatory process.

The response to the trainings has been encouraging. "It is interesting being on the other side of the table this time" says Ms. Nivedita Bhattacharya, a teacher. The workshops are activity based and the teachers are sharing their practical problems and getting solutions. "As a teacher, I am a changed person, with renewed hopes to make a difference in the lives of our children", she added. The trainers too are motivated by the teacher's enthusiasm. Children at Deepalaya - watch out - for now you have a charged up group of teachers to show you the way to enlightenment.

Deepalaya Khel Kood Utsav

The Deepalaya South Delhi Project held its annual Khel Kood Utsav (Sports Day) on 30th December, 2003. Over a thousand children from South and East Delhi Projects participated in Flat Race (100 mt, 200mt, 300mt, 400mt), Trophy Race and Lemon Race. Also a special event "Matka Race"(racing with a pot balanced on the head) was organized for the mothers. The staff members too participated in a Sack Race.

Events were also conducted for the differently abled children. 70 children participated and many won prizes.

Letter to the Editor

"I have been teaching Japanese to the students at Deepalaya School since December 2002.

Japanese has been one of the most popular and sought after languages in the Delhi University. It widens the scope for employment. I felt why not give schools like Deepalaya also this opportunity.

Teaching at Deepalaya, has been a great learning experience . For the first time I am interacting with children bubbling with so much energy and enthusiasm.They are so different from university students who are largely passive listeners. I am impressed with their zeal to learn. Their whole approach to life is so positive, despite all their limitations.

I also taught the children popular Japanese songs which they sang at the annual day function.I felt so proud when the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Some of the students are doing very well and I regret not being able to give them extra time. I also tell them about Japan and the people, art forma etc.My Japanese friends have shown their enthusiasm and expressed their willingness to assist me in this project. I also plan to have some 'Origami' sessions in future. I am sure within a year or so, the students will be in a position to converse in the language. I am looking forward to that day as much as the students are."

Ms.V. Ramalaxmi a sponsor parent and a Japanese professor at the Delhi University.



Global CSR Excellence & Leadership award presented by ABP News to Deepalaya