- INDIA -
From time to time I like to highlight organisations that are actually achieving great results for the underprivileged members of our global village - at the grass roots level. Today I feature ‘ACTION IN COMMUNITY AND TRAINING’ – A.C.T.
However, here are a few basic facts: The number of poor people in India, according to the country’s Eleventh National Development Plan, amounts to more than 300 million. The country has been successful in reducing the proportion of poor people from about 55 per cent in 1973 to about 27 per cent in 2004.
But almost one third of the country’s population of more than 1.1 billion continues to live below the poverty line, and a large proportion of poor people live in rural areas. Poverty remains a chronic condition for almost 30 per cent of India’s rural population. The incidence of rural poverty has declined somewhat over the past three decades as a result of rural to urban migration.
Poverty is deepest among members of scheduled castes and tribes in the country's rural areas. In 2005 these groups accounted for 80 per cent of poor rural people, although their share in the total rural population is much smaller.
Here is an insight from Tapas Chatterjee, Team Leader/ SHGs, Finance & Livelihoods Expert.
Action in Community and Training (ACT) was formed on 14th August, 2001 by a group of social workers to perform their work in a better and more effective way. In the very first year, ACT had been able to start a Balwadi in Alakananda slums in South Delhi and a Remedial Education Centre for poor students in Nagla-machhi slums near ITO. Later a Tailoring Learning centre had been opened in Nagla-machhi. The centers were run by ACT through little fees from students and donations from its members only.
In-depth experience in women’s empowerment experience in a number of sectors and discipline.Successful Experience at different areas of NCR qualified and experienced team of Field workers as well as Project managers. Chief Functionary of the organisation has insight into such programs with experience of 23+ years. Back-stopping by senior staff.
Our Motto: We ACT to Change - We Change to ACT.
We have a wide range of experience in the arena of women Empowerment, Adolescent skill Development, SHG Formation, Livelihoods Promotion, Skill Training, Organising Health Camps, Remedial Education and sensitizing women & men on Gender Issues.
For 7 years of working with and for the under-privileged and their communities, we have learnt that permanent change in the lives of the poor is only possible when we tackle the root causes that continue to keep them uneducated, hungry and vulnerable. We believe that given proper opportunities, the poor and so-called backward section of the society can come up to become pillars of Indian Economy.
We do not believe in giving 'doles' to make the poor handicap, but try to Train and Educate them to stand up on their Own Two Feet. However, we understand that to cross the Initial Period of this changeover, the poor families need Care Trust and Encouragement - for which we help them in Education, Skill Training, Formation of SHGs (Self Help Groups), Microfinance & Microenterprises, Health & Sanitation, Legal Aids, Sports, Awareness Generation and Entertainment.
Imagine sending your kids to work at a roadside tea-shop or paint shop as you cannot feed them.
Imagine your family working as rag-picker as you could not get a job due to lack of education or skill training.
Imagine your daughter not attending school because you cannot pay the fees.
Imagine the hardship of millions of women and girls who have to fetch water from distant sources.
Imagine millions of children in India die each year due to malnutrition or lack of medical help.
Imagine apathy of millions of child labourers or sex workers, who are forced to the act due to poverty.
However … imagine a New India, where there is no beggar, no child dies due to hunger or lack of medical help …people do not go for open defecation, women are not forced to take up odd jobs to feed themselves or their families - every child has access to education. Imagine INDIA - where everyone Smiles.
Skeptics may call it a day-dream, but we call it a Challenge. We believe that the word 'Impossible’ itself says that "I’m possible”. If India can make Superomputers, can reach to space or can host the Common Wealth Games, India can also eradicate hunger and poverty.
English Speaking Classes
India is the world in a nutshell. So diverse, with 22 recognised regional languages (more than 1600 in total) but the language that is most used in business or education (after school level) is English. It seems that if one knows good English, s/he will surely get a good job in India (even if s/he knows nothing else); whereas, if someone is quite good in some field, but doesn’t know good English, s/he has a little chance to get one.
So. Knowledge of English actually divides India in two classes – the Ladder-climber and the Downtrodden. The middle and rich class people are enjoying all the gains of development …because they speak English and can grab/ create opportunities. The poor are becoming poorer - as they don’t speak English. That’s why we have started teaching English to poor children & youth, so that they can compete at a level field.
We collaborated with Times Foundation (Teach India) and Panasonic (Young Learners Program) for this and the response has been fantastic. We have been able to make the students get opportunities for better studies and jobs.
Waste to Livelihood
In India, waste creation is abundant, but waste recycling is miniscule. That provides an opportunity … and we took it. Corporates are under pressure from government for waste management and they are desperately seeking good partners. That’s where we fit in. So, Tetrapack collaborated with us to recycle their used (by consumers) cartons and provided us the minimum required equipment & training (through Development Alternatives).
We have been able to produce good hand-made papers from thrown out cartons etc. And we are making Paper Bags now from the paper sheets made. We have already delivered our first order of 300+ bags.
We are also making Mats from plastic (carry) bags and beautiful Baskets from PolyAl wrappers. This is a wonderful, environ-saving, employment generating and sustainable project, provided we get funds for Running Expenses for 1 – 2 years (transition period). But, sorry to say, we are still unable to find a funder for that and we don’t know how long we can carry on.
The Hard Fact is that most NGOs having funds do not perform, whereas many NGOs trying to perform do not get funds.
I request every reader to support NGOs working at the grass-roots, trying to perform - not wasting money on seminars and conferences. We already have had enough. Now WE need to Work at the Grass-roots.”
J 1 /72, DDA Flats, Kalkaji, New Delhi 110019
H 27, Shiv Durga Vihar, Lakkarpur Village,
(Near Railway Phatak), Faridabad -121009, Haryana. INDIA
Phone: +91 11- 9313984414, 9350884764
Clancy’s comment: Great to see practical efforts being made to assist people to be self-sufficient. I take my hat off to Tapas and his colleagues and wish them heaps of success. Anyone wishing to know more can contact the branch office – email address above, or check out this link:
Think about this!