Thursday, April 16, 2009

DBDS #008 TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR SHG LEADERS

Karuna Gamit CHHOTA UDEPUR, APRIL 14, 2009: A group of 25 women, all Presidents and Secretaries of various Self Help Groups, were taken for an Exposure-cum-Training Programme to Behavioural Science Centre, Ahmedabad. After a set of “ice-breaking” games were played, the four topics that were to be dealt with were introduced, namely, Social, Economic, Educational and Political issues. The entire group was then divided into four smaller groups and each of these groups was asked to prepare a short skit on one of the topics. The skits were extremely creative and brought a variety of issues to the fore. Each topic was then dealt with individually and in detail. The women were made aware of their role and responsibility vis-à-vis these issues. It was pointed out that the SHG should not just focus on Savings and Lending, but all the members should jointly work for an all-round development of the village. Accordingly, it was decided that every month the SHGs would prepare an Action Plan for that month and report on its implementation during the meeting in the following month. The need of networking and forming a Federation with other groups in the region was also stressed. The entire programme was very beneficial to the women. Going out of their villages and mixing with women from other areas, the exposure from a rural setting to an urban one, travelling on the Expressway, meeting people of different cultures, etc. impressed them tremendously and certainly opened up their horizons. The women returned back to Chhota Udepur promising to put into practice all that they had learnt during this training programme.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

DBDS #008 BOSCO YUVA SANGHATANA LAUNCHED

Anand Raj MATUNGA, APRIL 6, 2009: Bosco Plus, a training and placement programme for youth from slum communities, initiated by the Development Office in April 2008, reached an important milestone yesterday, April 5, with the launching of the Bosco Yuva Sanghatana – a youth movement comprising all the former students of this programme. Over a hundred youngsters were present for this function which was held at the Provincial House, Matunga. The programme began with Mr. Melvin Pangya, Bosco Plus Coordinator, welcoming all the youngsters. Fr. Anaclete D’Mello then decalred the Bosco Yuva Sanghatana open. Explaining the objectives of the Sanghatana, Fr. Savio Silveira said that this youth movement was being launched so that all the past students of Bosco Plus could stay in contact with one another and that Don Bosco could keep providing these youngsters with additional trainings and placement opportunities. He also stressed that a key aim of the Sanghatana was to make the young people protagonists of youth development. Some of the past students then came forward to share their experience of the Bosco Plus training and how it had influenced their lives. Next, there were two guest presentations, one by Mr. Nitin Sawant from Max Life Insurance and the other by Mr. Robin Thomas from Tata Trent. Both the speakers focused on the present day opportunities in the job market and the type of skills and attitudes required for a successful career. Finally, Fr. Edwin D’Souza, Rector of Provincial House, addressed the youngsters. He called on them to become leaders and agents of change in their own localities. He also announced that the Maschio Memorial Foundation would award scholarships to deserving candidates from the Sanghatana who wish to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Social Work. The last segment of the afternoon was a cultural programme which included a fashion show, dances and songs. There was high energy all around with the youth clapping and cheering as the performers put up a spirited show. The programme came to a close with the youngsters expressing their thanks to the Bosco Plus team, not just for the training they had received, but more important, for having now brought them together into a youth movement. They stated that they were thrilled to belong to this youth movement that focuses on youth development.

Monday, April 6, 2009

DBDS #007 KAVLI

Savio Silveira
I heard about her long before I ever met her.

‘You haven’t met Kavli?’ one of my colleagues asked me with a hint of disbelief and disdain in her voice.

And so the next time we were in Alirajpur (Madhya Pradesh) we rode down the dusty track that leads to Bhedva, a rustic tribal village, to meet Kavli. Bhedva greets you with that depressing embrace which you encounter regularly in the Indian hinterlands – callous scorched earth, hand-pumps that have long run dry, emaciated cattle gloomily munching the crusty leaves that the summer wind occasionally blows along…

A few moments later we are seated in Kavli’s hut and I suddenly feel the depression lift as I listen to her speaking animatedly. Much of what she is saying in her rhythmic tribal dialect I do not follow. But words do not matter. The determination etched into the contours of her face, the resoluteness in her eyes, the confidence in her tone, the energetic elegance with which she gesticulates… all tell her amazing story… the story of how she has boldly walked into government offices and demanded her rights, of how she has challenged obsolete cultural beliefs, of how she has taught her children to dream of a tomorrow very different from the yesterdays she has known, of how she has become the icon of hope for the restless women in the village…

And as I sat there in that remote nondescript village, listening to a seemingly ordinary woman, I understood the most important fact about development work. Development is not about projects, it is about people. It is not about change management, it is about change makers. It is not mega projects, but motivated people that usher in effective change.

Investing in people is ultimately the best investment for development.

Friday, April 3, 2009

DBDS #006 ON THE NREGS TRAIL

Mayank Parmar sdb NARUKOT, APRIL 3, 2009: After having successfully commenced work on the NREGS in two villages – Hirapur and Dipapura – DB Narukot decided to take up the same in yet another two villages. Accordingly, on April 1, meetings were held in Duma and Thalki to explain the NREGS to the people. Fr. Stanny Ferreira, together with his team, explained in great detail to the villagers the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) along with its corresponding Scheme (NREGS). They pointed out that the Act guarantees 100 days of work to every rural household. Furthermore, the works to be taken up in the village should be decided by the Gram Sabha. The people who attended the meetings were very pleased with the information they received and expressed their opinion that this scheme would indeed be highly beneficial to them. In both the villages, it was very heartening that immediately after the meeting people came forward stating their interest to get into the scheme. Accordingly, the application forms for the Job Cards were filled in at once. While in Duma about 65 persons requested Job Cards, in Thalki over 100 people asked for the same. These forms were then submitted to the NREGS Programme Officer at the Taluka Panchayat and the process for obtaining Job Cards has begun. The experience in both the villages was very satisfying. If the NREGS is effectively implemented it will reduce distress migration from the villages and simultaneously build up the assets in the village.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

DBDS #005 NARUKOT GETS INTO SANGATHAN MODE

Mayank Parmar sdb NARUKOT, APRIL 2, 2009: Don Bosco Narukot organized a series of village meetings on March 30 and 31, with the aim of motivating women to join together and form Sangathans. This is a different model from the Self Help Groups. While in the SHG model small groups are formed, the Sangathan model brings together all the women of the village onto a single platform. Again, unlike the SHG model which tends to focus on savings, loans and income generation projects, the Sangathan works on issues that are relevant and important to the village community. The first meeting on March 30 was held in Zalaria, while in the afternoon a meeting was held in Hirapur. The following day, March 31, meetings were held in Chalwad and Gandhra. Ms. Nimiben Parmar, a Sangathan expert, was the chief resource person for all the meetings. She explained to the women the need to come together to resolve the various issues they are facing in their villages. Quoting several examples and success stories, she pointed out to the women that often what seems impossible in the beginning can ultimately be achieved through unity, creative thinking and persistence. Mr. Subhash Shirsath, DB Narukot Development staff, discussed several practical issues with the women, such as the actual difficulties that they are facing and what could be possible solutions. He assured the women that Don Bosco would guide them through the entire process. All the women who attended the meetings were highly enthusiastic about the Sangathan concept. Slowly but surely, this people’s movement is bound to usher in the much needed development in these tribal villages.