“IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE COMPASSIONATE. YOU MUST ACT.”
- DALAI LAMA
'Safe Shelter’ at Heti Tola village in Gadchiroli
Gadchiroli district is listed very high on the Govt. of India’s list of 250 most-backward districts in the country, and this tribal, naxal-affected area continues to be steeped in primitive practices.
One such is the banishment of menstruating women to Kurma Ghars (Period Huts), which were unsafe and unhygienic without even the basic facilities of water and electricity, resulting in serious diseases and deaths.
Our Club financed the construction of a ‘Safe Shelter’ at Heti Tola village in Gadchiroli to accommodate 50 women in the age-group 12 - 50 years, at a cost of Rs. 4,59,115/-. There is an inner room with beds, attached toilet-cum-bath area as well as solar lights and fans.
The inner area is constructed using bricks and the balance structure with recycled 1-litre plastic bottles filled with soil — bottle bricks. This has a double benefit — addressing the menace of plastic, and providing an income to the 109 rag-picker community in Gadchiroli towns.
The Shelter was inaugurated on October 30 by the villagers with great joy and enthusiasm.
Earlier existing Period Hut
Completed ‘Safe Shelter’
Safe Shelter with Solar panel
Wall of Bottle- bricks on the left and normal brick wall
A plaque acknowledging the Club’s donation
The jubilant community celebrating the inauguration on October 30
Recent donations to farmers
Farmers with seeds for cultivation
Women at a sewing class
Theory training on vegetable cultivation
Water reaching a woman farmers plot
Water reaching a male farmers plot
The Projects Committee focuses it’s attention on rural and tribal communities who lack basic infrastructure. Clean drinking water, rainwater harvesting, infrastructure for irrigation and sustainable agriculture, renewable energy sources such as solar power and health & sanitation efforts such as building lavatories, have been some of the key foci of this committee
Over 35 villages have benefited from the Projects Committee’s efforts, which have not only helped to create direct streams of income for the community, but also focused on empowering rural women to start small scale enterprises. The Projects Committee proactively supports the welfare of rural women and their education.
The Projects Committee has provided education and vocational training for women to learn tailoring to bring incremental income into their households. The project ensures that the women are adequately trained and receive a diploma in tailoring, whereby they can avail of a subsidy to invest in their own sewing machines.
This way they set up their own tailoring businesses and become self-sufficient. The club has also imparted training to several farmers to teach them how to diversify and increase their yield. From diversifying the crop itself to implementing sustainable agriculture and irrigation methods, today they grow a variety of fruit, flowers and produce that they can sell back into the market.
Clean and hygienic drinking water is an essential natural resource, and the rainwater harvesting projects that have been executed have been a resounding success. Not only have they provided clean drinking water to the community, but also facilitated sanitation and hygiene with the construction of proper toilet and sanitation facilities. The club has funded water filters in over 225 homes across three different villages where potable drinking water was not available.
As an extension to water-related infrastructure, sustainable development is on the rise. Recent projects in existing communities include solar lighting, tree-planting, and medical camps, especially for young children.
Some of our sustainable development initiatives include:
- Rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems
- Smokeless chullahs (stoves)
- Sanitation & hygiene (clean toilets)
- Solar lighting and sustainable energy devices (LED lights)
- Sustainable agriculture infrastructure, training and equipment
- Vocational training and skill development (tailoring for rural women, who get a diploma, and can then avail of a government subsidy to buy their own sewing machines and generate incremental revenue from tailoring).
- Women’s empowerment and self-help groups
- Community centres and community development
- Medical camps for anaemia, malnutrition, and ocular diseases
- Purification units for potable drinking water
- Transportation infrastructure for school children
The aim of the Projects committee is to put initiatives and infrastructure in place that makes these rural communities self sufficient, diversifies their revenue streams, and increases their sources of income. It also works closely with various communities and their leaders to create a healthy, safe and hygienic environment for every member of the community, and to educate one another on these issues.
Not only have the efforts of the Projects committee helped to create incremental revenue for each community, initiatives such as the strategic rainwater harvesting infrastructure cuts down on the costs of buying water from middlemen.
The Women’s Empowerment Project has facilitated the formation of new Self-Help Groups among rural women as well, which have not only enhanced their economic status but also their self-esteem. These women are now directly empowered to earn their own revenue independently and make their own financial contribution back to their individual households.
Rural infrastructure for drinking water supply, safe transportation for school-going children, and timely medical aid and assistance, has not only enhanced the lifespan but also the quality of life for the entire community exponentially.
In addition to subsistence farming, the sustainable agriculture, soil-testing, irrigation and multi-cropping initiatives have resulted in farmers selling excess produce to the local markets, and diversifying into other income generating streams, such as floriculture.
In this manner, the entire community’s skillset grows, it sows seeds of inspiration and hope, and every member of the community reaps the benefits.