A team of 19 interns were selected after 3 intensive recruitment rounds who, after 4 months of a rigorous planning phase, were introduced to the fields of Ahmedpur-Darewala.
We formulated our plans in line with the requirements of the people of Ahmadpur-Darewala, gauged through our interaction with them during our visit in April. We focused on Waste management, substance abuse, women empowerment, career guidance, policy awareness to name a few. We even ensured enrolment of about 40 people with 75% female enrolment into the PMKVY centre in Gorewala.
2. Substance abuse
3. Career counselling
4. Banking and Policy Awareness
5. Initiation of a Public Health Centre
6. Waste management
Our team conducted a session on Substance abuse with a target group of about 30 men and adolescents in association with the following dignitaries –
● Head Constable Mr.Pramod Kumar,Haryana Police, Sirsa
● Mr.Rajendra Kumar,Psychologist at Nasha Mukti Kendra
● Ramjeet Singh Takkar,Social worker
● Mahaveer Sharma, Principal Senior Secondary School
● Members of the Ambedkar Club.
Our team focused on the ill effects of substance abuse such as financial strains, health and family relations. The topic of domestic violence and crime was also touched upon. Methodologies such as expenditure and budget tables were used to highlight the cumulative sum of money being spent on substance and alternative investments in land and education that would have been highly beneficial. The idea of peer groups to quit smoking was introduced to the addicts. A major focus was given to methods of de addiction such as reducing the consumption by one beedi or one glass every day till you reach zilch. Home remedies to help curb withdrawal symptoms were discussed. Problems of passive smoking, effects on children, health issues such as diseases like TB were highlighted. The help of visual aids was used to reiterate the contents of the Sessions. The authorities present also spoke to the villagers to quit the practices and Mr. Rajendra Kumar from the Nasha Mukti Kendra even motivated them to get themselves enrolled in the kendra.
As found by our survey findings, the financial literacy amongst the people of Darewala was low and hence various sessions for the same were conducted for men, women and youth alike. Our team focused on disseminating information about basics and importance of banking as well as interest earnings on their savings, DBT for various welfare schemes etc.Farmers were discouraged to make use of non-institutional credit sources. In tandem with policies and efforts of the Haryana government, our team extensively focused on Mobile Banking including *99# helpline, Bharat Interface for Money and Paytm. A detailed session on E Seva Kendra viz. AEPS, IMPS and deposit and withdrawal was also undertaken with Rajpal Ji. Various Bank Accounts were also opened by us at the E-Seva Kendra. An ‘ATM for Darewala Campaign’ was carried out by us and a request to open an ATM was sent across to the authorities. GST was also a hot topic amongst our discussions. These sessions were extremely well received by the people.
Our team conducted various sessions to increase the penetration of scheme enrollment in the village. Door to door surveys were conducted in 428 households inquiring about the coverage of various schemes and policies. This was supplemented with personalized door-to-door interactions which involved information dissemination about these schemes. Door to door registration of the Suraksha Beema Yojana was piloted, however the residents failed to submit them to the E-Seva Kendra, thereby defaulting on the registration process. These sessions were conducted throughout the program. A session was held in the primary school itself for policy awareness with the men of the village.
Out of the various government policies, 5 most relevant policies applicable for the people of Darewala were selected and explained thoroughly. The selected policies were – MUDRA Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. The importance of attending Gram Sabha’s to know about new policies was also emphasized upon.
Our team conducted various sessions in the village in association with the PMKVY Skill Center that has been set up in Gorewala. Various visits were paid to the center for the purpose of understanding its functioning, application procedures, eligibility etc. Post this, information dissemination session about the scheme and the skill center was conducted. The owners, Mr.Gagan and his partner as well as a senior policy researcher of the Haryana government were present at the session. Information regarding the eligibility, the application process, the course details, incentives, employment opportunities etc. were disseminated. The courses available were Stitching and data entry. To conclude our efforts, an enrollment drive was organized at the primary school for the enrollment of the beneficiaries.
Our team along with the workers at the skill center enrolled 40 plus villagers into the scheme. Their forms were duly filled with all required documents attached and submitted to the head of the skill center for further approval. Interestingly, a majority of the enrollees were women and were enrolled in the computer and data entry course.
AgricultureThe primary occupation of the people of the village is agricultural. While there are some big land- owning farmers, majority of the village is engaged in agricultural labor, mostly on a sharecropping basis. The session on agriculture was conducted in 3 folds –
1. Interns conducted a session with farmers to know about their problems at the primary school.
2. The following day, a door-to-door session was conducted with the farmers who didn’t come the previous day to know about their problems as well as to inform the farmers about the session with officers from the Agriculture Department who were coming the same day.
3. A session was conducted by the officers from the agriculture department.
The sub divisional agriculture officer, bloc officer and the agricultural development officer came to speak to us and the farmers about what farming practices they should imbibe, procedure for online registration of schemes and subsidies, eligibility criteria for availing subsidies, redressal mechanism, issue of soil health card etc. In the end, they cleared any doubts the farmers had regarding grievances.
During our 15 days in Darewala, utmost importance was laid on waste management given the absence of a waste disposal system in Darewala. On the occasion of World Environment Day, we started off by participating in the celebrations undertaken by the panchayat. We accompanied the nigrani committee, conducted a sloganeering drive as well as a cleanliness and sapling plantation drive at the primary school.
Post this, the day was spent as a prolonged session on waste management with the kids where the importance of the environment and waste management as well as ill effects of various kinds of pollution were taught to the kids. They were then made to make drawings on the environment and slogans were taught to them and the day was concluded with an ‘Environment drive’ all around the village. The practice of Waste segregation was inculcated and the people were explained about hazardous impacts of burning and dumping the dry waste on health, environment etc. They were motivated to segregate the wet and dry waste at their homes, followed by a waste collection of the dry plastic waste around the village carried out by our team. The disposal of this collected waste was further taken up by the Authorities. We have also pitched a detailed waste segregation plan for the village to the authorities and would be working on implementing the same.
Health and Nutrition Session with Women
The sessions were aimed at instilling awareness about common health problems prevailing amongst women, mainly in rural areas and provide relevant solutions. Problems such as UTI, anemia, joint pains, constipation, etc. were discussed. The session also covered the importance of a healthy diet, the need for physical endurance and the necessity to look after your own self. Various simple exercises as well as problem specific home remedies were also discussed. Importance of having a balanced diet was also highlighted. The strength of the session was in the fact that every age group could have found information relevant to the problems that they personally faced. One limitation however was that since this session was one of the first to be conducted, the women were a little hesitant, despite efforts from our side to break the ice.
The session was aimed at developing a sense of menstrual hygiene amongst the women. A door to door session was conducted to tell them about home remedies for menstruation, usage of sanitary napkins and their disposal. Our team gauged the problems faced by the women with regard to menstruation such as severe pains, irregular menstruation etc. Several home remedies, proper diet and maintaining good hygiene were discussed. Various existing taboos were tackled as well.
Session with Pregnant Women
The session was developed after the survey indicated that there was a need to address the issues that specifically the pregnant women were facing. We discussed various issues of utmost importance to pregnant women such as healthy habits to adopt during pregnancy, food items to eat and those to avoid, the concept of a balanced diet, home remedies for minor health issues, extend of physical work that is appropriate, dangers of passive smoking and how to avoid it, when to consult a doctor and signs of serious pregnancy related illnesses. The ANM nurse was present and gave a brief about Janani Suraksha Yojna and the Importance of maternity Cards. Information about the Sukanya Samridhi Yojna was also provided. Related yet sensitive topics like gender discrimination at birth and domestic violence due to substance abuse was also lightly touched upon.
Given the general atmosphere in the village with regard to safety, particularly that of the women, we found it imperative to conduct a specific session focused primarily on women safety. A brief discussion on women rights and various redressal methods in case of violation of such rights (E.g. filing FIRs or contacting women cells) were discussed. An informal conversation to gauge the problems faced by the women were undertaken in this regard. They spoke of about how their dreams and aspirations don’t matter to their own family and they face discrimination every day in their house in the form of being shunned, overburdened, mocked etc. The discussions highlighted the presence of normalized domestic violence in the village which is a problem of utmost importance. We therefore realized that discussing about women’s safety is a far-fetched topic but these topics should be addressed while conducting session’s in future in form of informal discussions with them.
For more information on the work done in summer 2017 in Darewala, please click here.