Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trainings in Sphere Standards

Under one of its new activities of the year, Sphere India has undergone an agreement with Concern Worldwide and Save the Children. The purpose of this understanding is to conduct 4 trainings on “Sphere Minimum Standards and Humanitarian Laws” in each state (West Bengal, Assam, Orissa & Bihar).Each training would be a 4 days residential training. The intended participantsof these trainings are government functionaries, non-government professionalsand humanitarian practitioners in the state that are involved in disaster response and other phases of DRR. The expected number of participants in these trainings is 25.

Sphere India proposesto transfer the complete training budget to West Bengal State IAG. The West Bengal State IAG shall plan the training as per the convenience and suggestions of West Bengal IAG members.


Initial discussions in the state IAG will take place for planning the trainings, taking into consideration the following points :

  • * Finalize training dates (4 days in March or April 2009) in consultation with the IAG members
  • * Identify and book venue (please suggest venue details to Sphere India, New Delhi to get it booked in advance to avoid last hour problems)
  • * Ensure participation from relevant Govt. depts.
  • * Initiate participants registration (A quality profile of participants would be appreciated. We also encourage women participation.)
  • * Discuss and finalize training schedule and contextualized training materials
  • * Any other important thing that the IAG may feel necessary at this time...
  • WATCH OUT THIS SPACE FOR MORE INFORMATION.... You may download the tentative Training Schedule by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cases of HIV Infections Increasing

This morning, 28 Jan 2009, when I visited the home of the Missionaries of Charity the Sisters who follow the order of Mother Teresa were narrating about the pathetic condition of a little girl, aged about 6, who has been abandoned by her parents as both of them have died of AIDS, leaving her and her parents alive. And the girl is sick with severe malnutrition, and is now admitted at the sister's place. She, luckily, is not infected by the deadly virus. The sisters were telling me that she wants to go back to her home soon. When I enquired about the reason, you just cannot imagine the reply of the girl. "I have to take care of my grand parents!". She is clearly heading towards unsafe survival strategies. She can, as she grows up, end up as a victim of human trafficking and sex-trade. I can feel that. I am not sure if I will be able to help her; and I am not even sure if I will ever meet her again.  It raises fundamental questions about human intentions to help one another. To be with the poor. It also makes me reflect on the present situation of the three districts and I serve along with Social Welfare Institute.

The cases of HIV positives in the North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda districts is increasing at an alarming rate. Last year North Dinajpur district was declared as the district with highest number of HIV cases for any district in India. One of the rural government bodies (Panchayat - a cluster of villages with about a population of 30,000) in South Dinajpur, named Chokbrighu alone has over 100 HIV infected cases !

New Arrivals !

We are pleased to Welcome Chelsea Krema of Seattle University who has come as part of the International Internship Development Program of the Seattle Univ., WA., and she has already began helping Social Welfare Institute (SWI)  since 14 Jan 2009.  Chelsea arrived in India on 10 Jan. She will stay at SWI till the end of March 2009. Chelsea is a friend of two of our past students, Scott Ochs and Andrea Smith. Welcome Chelsea !!!

Ms. Hannah Munch of Germany is in Social Welfare Institute to understand and learn on Organizational Management and how development projects are managed on the field. Welcome to Hannah ! She arrived on 27 Jan 2009, and is expected to be in Raiganj till the first week of March 2009.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guiding Disaster Preparedness

Align CenterCatholic Relief Services (CRS) has organized a Workshop in order to prepare a "How to Guide" for Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) Programs supported by CRS across the Indian sub-continent. The "How to Guide" is to be designed for use by CRS and its Partner organizations for effective implementation of CBDP so that the Guide could set benchmarks and identify best practices that can be used for replication at other places as well.

The sessions have been very heavy... after a long journey that I had from Raiganj to Delhi via Kolkata, reaching at the midnight of 20 Jan. Ms. Amy Hilleboe, Senior Technical Advisior on Disaster Risk Reduction at CRS Headquarters in Baltimore is the main facilitator, and the whole lot of interactive sessions were extremely tiring for the first day, and very useful personally, as I had a lot of opportunities to convey my opinions.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Transfers and Appointments

Sr. Naveena who served the poor, especially through Health Programs, from 15 Jan 2008 has been transfered by her Provincial. She will leave for Kolkata by the 15 Jan 2009. Social Welfare Institute and all its partners wholeheartedly thank Sr. Naveena for her wonderful and dedicated service in Raiganj.

Mr. Mathias Hembrom,  a driver of Social Welfare Institute, has joined our Regional Forum Association of Bengal Collaboraors for Development (ABCD) as driver, in Kolkata. We wish him all the best !

Ms. Jonaki Kujur, who was in-charge of taking care of the micro-insurance program has left Social Welfare Institute, and has joined the Community Care Centre run by SWI, at Malda as an outreach worker. Thank you Ms. Jonaki !

Needs Assessment Workshop

SPHERE India in collaboration with the West Bengal State Inter-Agency Group, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and several other partners organized a workshop on Needs Assessment in Emergencies so that all Non-Profit organization level stakeholders may learn to assess needs and requirements of various communities in times of emergency situations, specially during disasters. Mr. John Hembrom and Ms. Bimala Baru represented Social Welfare Institute in the workshop which took place from 5-7 Jan 2008 at Baruipur, South 24-Parganas District, West Bengal. Puthumai A. Nazarene, joined the workshop on the last day for summarizing exercises. He also conducted a training to the senior staff of all Caritas India and CRS supported partners on MIS for the Community Based Disaster Preparedness program in West Bengal.

Dacoits attack Raiganj School

Jan 5, 2008

Armed dacoits attaked the guard of St. Xavier's School in Raiganj, a premier educational institution in the Diocese of Raiganj and escaped with cash worth about 70,000 rupees. 

On the night of 4 Jan, at about 1.30 a.m (5th morning), a group of seven / eight armed men with guns, swords and rods sneaked into the compound of St. Xavier's School, and then they attacked the night-guard, sliting the palm of his right hand and vandalizing the office rooms of the Principal, Fr. Varghese Palli S.J., the office of Vice-Principal Fr. Chandran S.J., the canteen and the stationary rooms of the school.  The miscreants took away the money that had been kept for the payment of teachers on the 5th Jan, Monday, the day on which the scho
ol was to reopen after the Christmas Vacation.

The night guard woke up the fathers at 3.15 am after the dacoits had ran away with the money, leaving him with his hands tied behind. It is only after the night guard reached the residence of the fathers they realized the immensity of the problem. The District Superintendent of Police was immediately informed and a large contingent of police force was placed to investigate the dacoity. In the same afternoon sniffer dogs were brought from Siliguri, and on Wednesday, 7 Jan, forensic experts from Kolkata arrived in St. Xavier's school to collect more evidences and finger-prints. (In picture : the room of the Pricipal)

One of the guards of the school had been detained for couple of days for enquiry, and he has been released. No other person has been arrested so far. 

The school serves over 1,300 children of the Raiganj town and other nearby villages and towns. The exams scheduled for 5 Jan have been postponed. 

Since the office of the District Superintendent of Police is hardly two kilometers away from the school, the incident has raised quite a few eye-brows.