Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tracking Migrant Laborers

There are many organizations today tracking the flow of migrant laborers in various parts of the world. Some of them promote such migrants and trafficking, while others dissuade or stop such migrant labor. Some study them for scientific reasons, while others do it for reasons like ours. Catholic Relief Services supported Social Welfare Institute with small amount of funds for a period of six months (June - Dec 2006) to support an Extensive Awareness Building on HIV/AIDS in 65 Panchayats of the three districts of North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda in West Bengal. We called it the "One Rupee Project" as it covered about 0.5 million population with that much of Rupees.

Our Project Coordinator, Ms. Manasi Garain, had some better idea. She used the same funds and the Staff to prepare also a small database of all the migrant laborers from these 65 Panchayats. The reason was simple. These migrant laborers were some of the most vulnerable people to carry the Virus and bring it to the districts. So, a house wise survey was done, covering every family, the name and address of the place where the person is presently residing, age, other details were gathered. We are giving you just a Summary of this Survey (Downloadable xls) from 59 Panchayats, to show you the enormity of the problem. SWI would be interested in working with the families of Migrant Laborers as our Special Target Group. You too can be part of this venture. Why not support it further?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Polio Eradication Reports

SWI has been working with UNICEF on Polio Eradication and improvement of immunization of children in various places within the districts of North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda. UNICEF has been supporting this program since 2004 in sixty one Gram Panchayats spread into these districts. Mr. Jude Henriques, the Program Communication Officer of UNICEF, Kolkata has been the brain behind this effort to eliminate Polio and reduce vulnerability of children. We are glad that since 2004, we have not had a single case of Polio affected child in the three districts. In this noble effort, World Vision and Catholic Relief Services have joined and they are supporting SWI jointly in12 Gram Panchayat areas. Reports of the data of immunization are available in the following links: Polio Report UNICEF-SWI Feb 07, Polio Report WV-SWI Jan 07, and Polio Report WVCRS-SWI Feb 07

Monday, March 19, 2007

Training at Kumarganj - Empowering Women's Groups

At Kumarganj, as an extension of the Village Resilience Project supported by Catholic Relief Services, we conducted a Training Program for women from Self Help Groups and they were trained in skills regarding Bank and Credit Linkages and analysis on possible sources of Income Generating Activities. This effort was supported by Nabard partly. The rest of the required fund support came from the project itself. Ms. Barnali Roy, the Project Coordinator of the Village Resilience Project organized the training with support from the District Development Manager, Nabard, South Dinajpur District. The full Report of the Training is available on the linked site.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rights of father"less" Children

Martin Luther King (Jr) had once said: "We must be good samaritans to people who have been wounded, bruised, robbed and left to die in our path of life. But we must also ensure in the long run that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is not infested with robbers so that no one is robbed, bruised, exploited and left to die!" Dear all, though Social Welfare Institute has been working for a long time for the welfare of children, it would like to take up one small and yet remarkable issue, which you can follow as well. We shall help the children whose father has left them, (the situation which we all know is common where the man leaves and lives with some other woman or not) by helping them file a petition with the District Judge and the District Magistrate, to claim compensatory educational, food and other support assistance from all those fathers who have left them at the mercy of the poor mothers. A regular effort on our part shall help these children regain their rights from their own parents. Until then, let us keep supporting the children in our schools and hostels.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Vocational Training (FVTRS) Partners' Meet

You are aware that SWI is involved in vocational training for drop-outs, women and youth. Some of the programs were partly supported by Functional Vocational Training & Research Society, Bangalore. At the Regional Partners' Meet (14-15, Mar 2007) at Kolkata, SWI presented a brief report. The report is very sketchy. You may download it by clicking on SWI-FVTRS Partnership. SWI and all the beneficiary youth, women and men are grateful to FVTRS and Misereor for the support. Ms. Sanchari Baral, Micro-Credit and Linkage Officer of SWI was also coordinating the program for successful implementation.

Dr. P. Basak presented a beautiful reflection with research on the dropouts at the National Level and how the targeting and entrepreneurship skills can be improved. The presentations are available in Targeting our Focus Group, and in School Dropouts

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rights Based Approach to Development

Catholic Relief Services, Caritas India, Justice, Peace and Development Commission of CBCI, ABCD and all partners from West Bengal gathered at SKC, Kolkata for a two-days long workshop on taking a Rights Based Approach (RBA) in our developmental works. Puthumai, Director, SWI was asked to share some of his reflections on the RBA, Citizenry, and Gaps at the level of people and government for ensuring that people get access to their rights, with a special focus on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). You may download the entire presentation ( after downloading open it with MS-Power Point) by clicking on RBA to Development

At the same meeting, Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj S.J. presented a beautiful reflection with lots of data on the Status of Bengal from a Human Rights Approach perspective.

Prisoners Get Insurance on International Women's Day

One of the first of its kind. I was at the Raiganj Prison (Correctional Home) with the female prisoners to celebrate the International Women's Day. It was 9 March 2007. I was back from Calcutta, just that morning. We had taken a group of children to put up some cultural programs exclusively for women. We had some sweets and cakes specially packed for them. But, while speaking to them, something sparked through my head. Why not make these women and men feel that they have a worth. I announced the Insurance program covering all the prisoners in Raiganj prison, and for all female prisoners at Malda and Balurghat. The Jail Superintendent was very happy and appreciative of the "first of its kind" initiative. The program covers about 250 persons. SWI shall pay the premium of Rupees One Hundred in the name of each of these prisoners. The amount will come from the support money given by the family of Ms. J. Kuester. All the prisoners at Raiganj Prison were covered under the scheme on 11 Mar 2007, Sunday for a period of one year. Thank you everyone! Your generous heart can always bring smile to a face in Raiganj!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thank You Julia!

The poor whom we serve, and the Social Welfare Institute thank wholeheartedly Ms. J. Kuester and her family (parents and sister specially) for supporting the cause of our Insurance for the Poor program after going through this blog. They have paid for the salary of Ms. Shivangi, the coordinator of this program for one year. This shall surely motivate the woman who is struggling to show the way to the poor, and also give a boost to SWI for taking up such new and hard initiatives and will ensure that the program is continued with new vigor. Thank you ! If anyone would like to support more and further, so that we can improve on this program by placing more persons to do the program, that will be of great help. Presently, SWI is crossing 400 poor persons insured under the program.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Disaster Preparedness and District Administration

Social Welfare Institute has been involved in Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) since 2001, and presently covers around 280 Gram Sansads. (A Gram Sansad is a smaller area with about 700 - 1200 voters living in the area) In this we have been receiving support from various district administrations, Department of Relief, Department of Civil Defense, Caritas India, Catholic Relief Services and other partners and agencies. Having recognized the strength of the process and the capacity of the Staff of SWI, the District Administration has asked SWI to help them in implementing the Disaster Risk Mitigation Program (DRMP). This opens the door for various opportunities, while at the same time strengthening our own CBDP. Details can be availed by clicking on Social Welfare Institute and DRMP