Save a Family Plan (SAFP) is currently partnering with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD)to implement a five-year community development program in India, “Sustainability through Participation, Empowerment, and Decentralization” (SPED) III, from 2010-2016. Building on lessons learned in SPED II (see below), this program is working with 29 different partner NGOs to address the issues that contribute to poverty in 580 poor villages across 12 states in India: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
The SPED III program is built on the understanding that the causes of poverty in India are deep-rooted and complex. It focuses on empowering communities to identify the key issues that they face and to work together to address these issues. The poverty-reduction activities will place focus on the following key areas:
-Health and Hygiene
In working with the selected villages in a participatory manner, our field staff in India provide training to build awareness among community members and encourage them to think critically about the problems that contribute to their poverty. Then all the stakeholders come together to engage in an inclusive planning process and to design and implement a project that uses local resources to improve life in the village. Finally, the community is guided in reflecting on their work to collect knowledge and insight on their experience which will help them to continue moving forward with their development in the future.
We are very excited to be embarking on this new program that is expected to directly impact the lives of more than 400,000 individuals in India! Check back for updates and success stories as the program progresses.
“Sustainability through Participation, Empowerment, and Decentralization” (SPED) II, a previous partnership between SAFP and CIDA, was a three-year community development program implemented in over 100 villages in nine Indian states. The purpose of SPED II was to reduce poverty through integrated village development in the areas of natural resource management, livelihood intiatives, education, health, environment, gender and governance.
SPED II has proven to be an all encompassing and integrated program with benefical results for communities and improved organizational capacity at all levels. It is important to look back on SPED II as SAFP moves toward to the future, to be reminded that the needs of communities can only be met through the participation and empowerment of local people, who must ultimately direct their own development.
The SPED II 2006-2009 Program involved funding for the following program activities:
Promoting Basic and Primary Education - Educating Drop-outs, Mayurbhanj, Orissa
Joto Mahakud was born and brought up in Laudia village in Mayurbhanj District of Orissa state. His father, Charana, and mother, Sambhari, had enrolled Joto in Dewan Bahadi U.P, a school in their village. Because of Joto’s responsibilities in the home, looking after the cattle and getting wood from the forest, he could not continue his schooling successfully. Within two years of his enrollment, Joto had dropped out of school.
When SPED II Program was launched in the village by Save A Family Plan’s partner organization, Balasore Social Service Society, Joto was still not in school. Through the intervention, Joto was identified by the program’s village community educator as a school dropout. The educator began working with the parents in order to motivate them to send their son back to school. At first Joto was very shy, always sitting in the back of the classroom. The community educator helped to counsel Joto and his parents. Gradually he became more active in the classroom. Joto learned how to read, write and solve math and science problems. When the community educator saw the great interest Joto had gained for learning, he thought it would best to mainstream the child into a regular government school.
After discussing the matter with Joto and his parents and with the headmaster of Dewan Bahadi, the local government school, Joto was admitted to the school. Now he is continuing his studies at the government school. He has recently successfully completed his examinations.
The success of Joto and other children in Laudia have shown the villagers the value of education in their lives. They now eagerly send their children to the local schools.
Environment Conciousness Building -Raising Environmental Consciousness, Chandrapur, Maharashtra
The Alphonsa Women Saving Group was created in collaboration with Loksamgraha Social Service Society (LSSS), a Save A Family Plan partner organization, in Kalamna village, Chandrapur, Maharashtra. These women put aside 20 rupees per month so that they can mobilize enough money for various participatory development projects.
The women were able to secure a loan from the government in order to start a goat-rearing project in their village. To be sure of its environmental sustainability, the LSSS organized a workshop for these women and other local groups, on Environment Impact Assessment, where they were guided on various subjects like environmental problems, solutions for environmental degradation, and the role of self-help groups in dealing with environmental issues.
After attending the workshop, the Alphonsa Women Group decided to focus their work towards environmental issues that arise in Kalamna. They organized a special meeting of self-help groups in the area and they identified the main environmental issues they were facing in the village, which included the cutting of tree branches for firewood, the cutting down of trees by local coal-makers, and increasing area deforestation for plantations. Together they petitioned the Kalamna Panchayat Raj, (local level government), to take action on these issues.
The awareness campaigns and alternative energy sources introduced into their village gave the Alphonsa Women Group the insight and inspiration to tackle environmental issues.
Capacity Building and Promoting Good Governess - Village Educators, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
In Kannampalayam village, in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, there are 150 families who were not yet aware of the importance of education, health, sanitation, or the environment.
One of the more common practices of the community members was open-field defecation, since many of the people could not afford latrines. It was not uncommon to find people using open public spaces like fields, the sides of roads, around pond areas, etc.
Recently through the work of Coimbatore Multi Purpose Social Service Society, a Save a Family Plan partner organization, 15 women’s groups were formed in the village, each receiving trainings on different topics. Members from Mahilampoo Women’s self-help group were given special training regarding the health risks of open field defecation and they, in turn, disseminated this knowledge to the entire village.
As a result, residents began to use common toilets provided by the local government. This demonstrated the importance of building the capacity of villagers themselves to educate their peers.
Gender Mainstreaming-Sheltering Victims of Domestic Violence Ernakulam, Kerala
The Cultural Academy for Peace (CAP), a Save A Family Plan partner organization, has long been working towards gender equality in rural communities in Ernakulam, Kerala.
In the village of Elamkunnapuzha, Mini was brought to CAP as a victim of domestic violence, abandoned by her family. She is a thirty-four year old woman with two small children, a daughter and son.
She had been married to her husband, a mason, for 11 years. Soon after they were married, they started having problems. Her husband became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and would frequently physically and verbally abuse Mini and their children.
He left the family home, leaving her without support. Her parents and siblings were limited in the financial support they could provide. However, realizing her situation, they brought her to her mother’s home, where she lived with her children for two years.
At that time, Mini’s husband returned to the village, apologizing for his behaviour, begging her to come back. They decided to return. Unfortunately, over time, her husband returned to his abusive ways. One night, around midnight, Mini’s husband and his mother forced Mini and the children out of the house. She went to stay with her brother, who provided shelter and protection when he himself could barely afford to support his own family.
Mini’s uncle and aunt, who were familiar with Save A Family Plan’s programs and had actively participated in their village sangham, approached CAP, seeking some kind of support and assistance for Mini.
Through the support of the local SPED coordinator, Mini and her children were referred to Sakhi, a home for women and girls in distress run by CAP, where she could access counseling services and could find peace of mind in the security of the home. She was also provided with legal assistance through which she was able to petition the courts for a divorce, a process which is still ongoing.
In Sakhi, Mini received some vocational training on paper bag-making, tailoring and hand-embroidery, which have helped her gain much confidence. She has since obtained a job in a nearby tailoring shop and started earning a fair income. Her children were enrolled in a school close to Sakhi and were given counseling for the trauma, and guidance for their studies.
With the support of her family and the Cultural Academy for Peace, Mini and her children have been able to recover a sense of peace and security in their lives.
SAFP maintains an emergency relief fund to be used to assist families in case of natural disasters such as flood, wind or landslide damage. This will provide for food, shelter, medicine, clothing, and other needs in the event of such catastrophic events.
In response to the December 26, 2004 tsunami that affected coastal areas in southern India, SAFP has worked together with 10 partner DSSSs to provide support to 500 tsunami-affected families from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Financial assistance to individual families ($20 per month) was provided for a period of six years, along with capacity building opportunities (entrepreneurship development training for livelihood restoration and environmental regeneration programs). In the selection process, special priority was given to widows with young children under 13 years of age. We are delighted to say that all 500 families have successfully completed the program and have moved on to be self-supporting.
Here is the story of one family, Mr. Soosai and Mrs. A. Pushpam, an elderly couple in Tamil Nadu. Their daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter were all lost in the tsunami, which was an incredible shock and left them as the guardians of their one remaining grandson, nine-year-old Anthony Praveen. This presented a major challenge for Soosai, who was already struggling to make ends meet for himself and his wife on the meager $20 he earned each month as a daily wage labourer.
Despite the terrible grief he suffered, Soosai was determined to support his family and ensure that his grandson, Anthony Praveen, was able to attend school. His old age made it very difficult for him to go out to work, so he had the idea of opening a petty shop (a small variety store) in order to earn an income.
By participating in SAFP’s Family Development Program, Soosai has been able to open and run his shop right from his home with great success. He earns around $125 a month, which allows him to support his family and educate Anthony Praveen, who is now studying in the 9th standard (Grade 9). All of them are healthy and living in a secure home. Thanks to the support they received, Soosai, Pushpam, and Anthony Praveen were able to find the courage and hope to move forward and rebuild their lives in a positive way
SAFP works with various partners to implement specially funded projects. Examples are: helping to eradicate child labour through sensitization of parents/employers and informal bridge schools in Andhra Pradesh; providing for medical needs and medications of vulnerable individuals; purchase of mini-bus for physically disabled children ; purchase of solar water heating system for a home for destitutes in Tamil Nadu; house construction for widows; funding for a short-stay home for women in difficult or abusive situations in Kerala; helping to fund staff salaries for counselors; assisting with basic needs of elderly and destitute in West Bengal: supporting Kutchi traditional handicraft collective in Gujarat; supporting tribal primary school in Kerala.
Facilitates and promotes participatory research in rural development, rural resource management, rural marketing, natural resource management, bio-diversity promotion, non conventional energy resources, sustainable farming, composting, livestock development, rural technology, etc. The collaboration and linkages with various research institutions, national and international governmental agencies, research centers and voluntary organizations are playing a pro-active role in our participatory action research (PAR) and technology development (PTD) processes.