"In July 2016, I was fortunate enough to go on a field visit to the CRY America-supported project SATHEE, Society for Advancement in Tribes, Health, Education and Environment. My wife Sangeeta and I have supported CRY for over 15 years but never did it feel this real.
I got to meet an amazing and dedicated team from CRY America during the project visit. Dr. Niraj heads the SATHEE project in Godda and has spent decades researching the hill tribes of Jharkhand and proposing projects to help them lead a better life. Together with the SATHEE team, he works tirelessly to help the tribes lead a better life.
We started off the trip in a beautiful school. The children were excited about showing us their school, their skills and had even arranged many programs to entertain us. We then visited a couple of anganwadis where babies and their mothers were getting vaccination shots and other necessary medications. I got an opportunity to interact with a girl whose child marriage was prevented and who was so glad to be back in school. I was humbled by the enormity of the impact this project had on thousands of women and children in close to 100 villages.
Yet, there is still a lot of work ahead. But if we continue to find people like Dr. Niraj, and if projects like SATHEE keep getting funded, there is hope. There is hope that many more children will continue to go to school and spend their childhood in the right way. And that many more women will be able to live a healthy life and raise healthy babies.
There are many more smiles and fewer tears as a result of projects like SATHEE. I haven’t done anything more important in my professional or personal life than being part of a project like this. It may be a small contribution to a large country. But this project has become a big part of my personal satisfaction and has given me a true sense of accomplishment.
I’m thankful to SATHEE and CRY America for making it so easy for us to contribute to such a noble cause and make such a huge difference to the lives of people who are a lot less fortunate than us."
- Jigar Thakkar, CRY America Donor, Seattle
About Society For Advancement In Tribes, Health, Education And Environment (SATHEE)
SATHEE works in 87 villages and is spread over 7 blocks of 5 districts in Jharkhand - Godda, Sahebganj, Pakur, Dumka and Deoghar. The main inhabitants are the Paharias, Santhal, Kol tribes and schedule castes. SATHEE originated in the course of a Government of India-sponsored research project ‘Ecological Survey of ‘Paharia’ community in Santhal Parganas’ during 1988–1991. Through this research project, the team developed an in-depth understanding on the problems of Paharia and other tribal communities living in and around the Rajmahal hills of Santhal Parganas. After working with these communities for around 4 - 5 years, SATHEE was founded. SATHEE has been working on various issues like pulse polio program, adult literacy program, trafficking, child abuse and is a member of district level committees like malaria control, polio eradication, state level advisory committee on technology promotion under the leadership of State Development Commissioner and the Right to Food Campaign in Santhal Parganas.
SATHEE has been able to achieve the following:
- 520 children in the age group of 0-1 years have been immunized
- 503 children between 0-1 now have birth registration certificate
- 63 children identified with malnutrition and registered
- 6428 children between 6-18 years have been enrolled in school
- 83 drop out children re-enrolled in school
- 80 children’s groups set up
- 67 villages/slums are child labor free while 58 have no incidence of trafficking
Project Dr. Sambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SSRF) with support from CRY organized a programme called Aap Beeti, which dealt with the problem of child marriage in Varanasi. Through this programme, a number of such cases were brought forward and the ill-effects of child marriage were explained. The programme was attended by various government and civil officials. As a result of the programme, the foundation also aims to reach out to victims of child marriage and support those who have health or social issues. A total of 32 child marriage victims attended the programme and their testimonials were recorded.
About Dr. Sambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SSRF)
SSRF, with the support of CRY, works in the slum community of Kashi Vidyapeeth Ward of Varanasi City. Varanasi, being the center of tourist attraction, has a lot of employment opportunities available on the Ghat and other areas of the city. People from adjoining areas come and settle down in slums to earn their livelihood. A substantial number of these slums still remain unidentified and lack basic amenities like drinking water, schools, health posts etc. The city additionally lacks adequate healthcare centres and schools. The community members largely live on daily wage and work mostly at construction sites, as rickshaw pullers or at shops. Typically, these sources of employment are not permanent. This creates pressure on children to dropout of schools at an early age and start working to supplement family incomes.
Dr. Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SSRF) is a secular, non-profit development organization. It was established by a group of development professionals under the inspiration of literary figure and social activist late Dr. Shambhunath Singh. Over the last 2 decades, SSRF has undertaken interventions on child rights, woman empowerment, human rights, urban development and environment protection in rural, semi urban and urban areas in and around Varanasi.
SSRF has been able to achieve the following:
- 2725 children between 6-18 years have been enrolled in school
- 116 children between 0-1 year immunized
- Awareness raised within the community on the importance of education and the Right to Education (RTE) through public meetings, door to door meetings and nukkad nataks by children
- Pupil-teacher ratio was mapped in schools and 2 teachers were appointed in the primary schools of Garaiya and Saraiya
- Daniyalpur primary school building was constructed and the budget for repairs was approved for the Paighambarpur school building
- 17 new teachers appointed in schools in the intervention areas.
- 224 children in the age group of 0-1 year were issued birth certificates.
- Railway station child protection committee was formed at Mughalsarai Railway station. 31 vulnerable children were identified and 24 of them were handed over to parents. 7 children were sent to different children’s home by the order/ direction of Child Welfare Committee
Rahima Bibi and Khatir Mollah from the district South 24 Parganas, West Bengal always got their child, Nasreen immunized on time. They rightly believe that it's every child's due to get immunised on time and this can lead to complete eradication of diseased like polio, whooping cough, measles and other deadly diseases. When more children are immunized, the spread of these diseases is arrested as well. While this brings us hope, there is still more work to do.
CRY America partner, Sundarban Social Development Centre (SSDC) along with the community health workers go door to door raising awareness about the importance of immunization for children. By personally meeting parents, they make them understand how important it is for their children to complete all doses and how this will lead to them having a happy and healthy childhood. But they face a lot of distrust and hurdles along the way. After their DPT (combination vaccines against three infectious diseases) doses, children normally run a temperature and sometimes their feet could swell up. This causes the parents concern and difficulty when they are unable to pay a doctor for the resultant ill health of their children. It's a mixed bag of promise and struggle and the work goes on.
SSDC in the district of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal state is constantly making efforts through awareness generation, community mobilization and collaborative efforts in ensuring immunization in their operational areas along with the government health service providers (ASHA, ANM, BMOH, and doctors). A lot of change in attitude has been observed amongst the people in the community over the years. There is a mixed bag of positive experiences, challenges and stories of Hope. There are still many more miles to go.
About the Sundarban Social Development Centre:
Sunderban Social Development Centre [SSDC], a CRY project initiated its interventions in a small way since 1986 with the objective of upholding the dignity of the most vulnerable sections of the community through empowerment. Over the years, SSDC has performed rallies by women and children, street corner meetings, street theatres by children and advocacy meetings with the PRI members and health departments in order to bring new public health services and activate the existing ones. In the year 2009-10, SSDC influenced the government machinery and the Department of Health to start the Ayushmati program in the whole of West Bengal, and extended the services to private hospitals and nursing homes in the district of South 24 Parganas.
SSDC has ensured:
- Immunization and regular health check-up of pregnant women along with supplementary nutrition (regular monitoring, handholding and advocacy work) were carried out
- Health & nutrition awareness and capacity building program for mothers and the community were carried out on knowledge, attitude and practice, while also bringing up nutrition/kitchen gardens in households & selected ICDS centers & public primary school.
- 167 children between 0-1 years immunized
- 39 children identified with malnutrition and registered
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