Bastar Food Project - Madhya Pradesh

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Location: Bastar Village, Chhattisgarh State (Northern part of India)
Number of children benefited: approx. 1500

The international school in Wettingen near Baden, invited Gregory De Souza to give a presentation about Asha Zurich and about the education situation in India. This happened on April 28, 2005. After the presentation few teachers with their own initiative collected some donation which amounted to 1001.25 CHF. They wanted to give the money to any school in India to provide some nutritionall food to the children of that school. With the help of our on going project Akshardeep and its co-ordinator Mrs. Bapat we chose the following project to be funded. But for various reasons the transfer of the money took really long to happen.

Money received from the International school: May 2005
Selection of Bastar project: June 2005
Money transferred to Bastar: June 2006

Project Goals and Impact:

With in this project about 1500 tribal children will be supplied with nutritional food. Kichadi, (indian for boiled mix of vegetables and pulses) a nutritious package, which includes pulses, groundnuts local vegetables, oil, spices etc, is distributed to the children in the noon. In the evenings, a shot of protein, in the form of milk, roasted chana (gram seeds) and vitamins is served. In the span of 5 years, the nutritious diet campaign, which started with mere 35 malnourished children, has covered a wide canvas. Currently there are 40 anganwadis (distribution branches) and 3 ashrams (centers) catering the basic needs of around 1500 children in far flung areas. Apart from providing nutritious food, the children are encouraged to participate in the physical development programs and sloka (religious poems) recitation contests held in the evenings.

Background:

Bastar, a little known village located in the northern state of Chhattisgarh has a dubious distinction of being the most backward place in India. The Aadivasis (tribals) living in this region are untouched by the modern civilization and live in abject poverty. The digital divide is complete and the tribal children, leave alone computers, have not even seen trains. Ignorance, superstition, malnutrition and illiteracy rule the roost and have taken the toll in keeping the community backward.

Bharatiya Kushtha Niwarak Sangh(BKNS) is doing pioneering work in the field of leprosy eradication in difficult terrains of Chhattisgarh for the last 45 yeards. Halbaras, a branch of this organization has been implementing nutritious food program for the malnourished children. Following are the primary activities of this organization.

Study tours contribute to ones practical knowledge and are an essential part of education. Two tours are conducted every year. Sixty children were taken to the Asia’s biggest iron ore project at Bailadila. They were shown iron ore enrichment series, its excavation and transport by rope ways and railways to Vizag. They were explained further processing iron ore and preparation of finished goods that can be manufactured from iron. Also, in the month of November, the children participated in the International Children’s Film Festival held at Hyderabad. There they had the opportunity to interact with children from other states and other countries, this helps broaden their outlook.

The organization also helped spread awareness about the disease called Sickle Cell, which is prevalent among the tribals in this region. It is a dreaded disease which affects the immune system of a person. The main cause of the disease is consanguineous marriages that are traditionally encouraged among the tribals. According to one of the estimates this disease affects an alarming 30% of the tribal population. Regular health camps, counseling and education campaigns are being conducted in order to help prevent the further spread of this disease. The government of India has stepped forward and provided an ambulance to realize the emergency transport problem. More steps are being taken by NGOs and the government to combat the Sickle-Cell disease.

Sustained development and the final goal of self reliance are key factors that contribute to the success of a project. Halbaras has been arranging exhibitions in the city of Pune through the organization Bastar Mitra Mandal. The aim of the exhibition is to increase the contact of aadivasis with the urban population and the sale of the handicrafts and sculptures of the artists of Bastar. The money raised by these exhibitions and other sources are diverted to the ashrams. Further plans are being drawn to increase such activities among the tribals.

The seedling which was planted 5 years ago needs to be nurtured and nourished. The activities are expanding and all out efforts are being made to cover a broad spectrum of development programs because the need of the hour is to put an end to the exploitation due to ignorance.

Bastar is in very much interior in chattisgadh area. One time help for Food Project.

Funding Sanctioned by Asha Zurich: CHF 1,000.00
Amount Transferred To Date: CHF 1,000.00
Project contact: Vishweshwara Herle - zurich(AT)ashanet(DOT)org

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