Across the country, individuals are working to change lives of people around them. While a group of house wives have come together to engage themselves in sewa activities, other changes are happening among tribals and marginal groups
Housewives Turn Social Reformers
The management skills of Indian housewives have wondered even the top management gurus. But their expertise is hardly used for the social cause. Breaking this barrier, a group of about 500 housewives in Pen town, about 100 km from Mumbai in the heart of Sahyadri Ranges in Raigad District, set an inspiring precedent by extending a helping hand to the local needy people through multifarious sewa activities.
Vasantidev Ahilya, Mahila Mandal
Inspired by the life of Ahilyabai Holkar, these women conduct about 15 types of activities including running an old age home, blood bank, garment manufacturing centre, hostel for tribal girls, a primary school, a catering service centre, a Sanskrit school, a pathological laboratory, free treatment and awareness to tribal women and children, nutritious meal to 2000 children, microfinance, training of Purohits, spice-based products and papad manufacturing units, preparing classical dancers, etc. The number of beneficiaries of all these activities is over a lakh.
Began in 1996, this initiative has so far involved about 1000 women,” says Smt Vasanti Dev, the torchbearer of the initiative. This experiment by the Mandal deserves applause as it has given a social dimension to the housewives, who earlier spent their time in various unproductive activities. Now they contribute to the betterment of the people in their surrounding areas.
Tribals Reshaping their Destiny
Strong will, firm determination and honest efforts produce exciting results. This has been proved by the tribals of Baripada Village under Dhule District of Maharashtra. At the time when most of the villages in the country wait for government agencies to come and transform their lives, the villagers here, under the leadership of a village youth Chaitram Pawar, reshaped their destiny and evolved a model of development that has been emulated by many villages and is being studied by foreign agencies.
The revolution in Baripada began in 1990s with curbing deforestation at 450 hectares. The second step was addressing water scarcity. So far, more than 500 check dams have been built. The experiment of SHGs proved highly beneficial. Five SHGs are involved in rice marketing alone. “In 1991-92 when we started forest conservation, the people around us said it is not our task, it has to be done by the government. The biggest challenge was to change the mindset. When villagers came together, we successfully revived 1100 acre forest, did wonderful work on water conservation, changed farming patterns, made most of the farmland irrigated, achieved 100 per cent literacy, curbed addiction and so on,” recalls Pawar.
Dignity for Rag Pickers
Humans contribute the most in waste generation — about 0.17 kg per person per day in small towns and 0.68 kg in big cities. As most of the waste is collected by humans, people involved in waste disposal are infected with diseases, which cripple many for the entire life. Sanjay Kamble of Latur took up the challenge of ensuring respectful and safe livelihood to such people in 1995. While making the waste collection process easier and safer, he transformed the lives of about 800 rag pickers in Latur and also got rid the city of mountains of wastes normally seen in every city. Kamble has also ensured respectable jobs for the second generation of rag pickers and many of them now do white-collar jobs.
Apart from rehabilitation of the people involved in scavenging, Shri Kamble through his Janadhar Sewabhavi Sanstha has conducted an interesting experiment for cleanliness. He appointed about 100 ‘Swachch Tais’ to educate the people about cleanliness. The prime task of Swachch Tai is to ensure segregation of waste at source. They educate the women of the family about it. The experiment has proved very successful and we achieved the target of 75 per cent segregation within first three months.