on the details of
55 villages of 5 blocks of Munger and Lakhisarai districts in Bihar, India.
Disha Vihar was registered in 2003 to bring the exploited Dalit communities into the mainstream socio-political process. They led the National Literacy Mission (NLM) campaign in the district and the polio awareness campaign with UNICEF. They also worked on social mobilization processes closely with UNICEF & WHO. Disha Vihar works with the people in Diara land who were displaced by the Ganga flood and the Fishing community in Munger district. The organization has taken up women’s rights and local governance issues. The team organises various cultural programs for communal harmony, social cohesiveness and the Manav Jodo Abhiyan. The Project Holder Mr. Abhay Kumar Akela, has been involved in the Ganga Mukti Andolan, the Munger movement and the Rashtriya Seva Dal. He was actively involved in the Bihar Pradesh Lok Samiti and played an important role in ensuring peace resumed after the Bhagalpur riots.
Located in Southern Bihar, Munger district is famous for its natural resources - forests, hills and rivers. These areas suffer from annual inundation, erosion, water clogging and sand deposition due to the flooding of the Ganges and its tributaries. The district experiences drought and floods simultaneously which affects the agricultural activities of Bhinds, Kumhars, Banias and the Dhobi communities. As a result people migrate from the villages. The health service delivery systems are not functioning properly which leads to low level of birth registration and immunization of children and pregnant women. Due to financial constraints and lack of livelihood options, children discontinue education and get engaged in child labor. 185 children are directly engaged in child labor and about 720 children have migrated to other places work. Child marriage is another issue prevailing in the area due to social taboos, traditions, fear of girl child safety and poverty.
- To ensure children in the age group 3-6 years are enrolled in the ICDS.
- To ensure routine immunization and health care services to all children.
- To reduce the incidence of child marriages and child labor in the operational villages.
- To ensure that all children in the age group of 6-14 years and 14-18 years are in school.
Achievements & Impact in the Review Period
The district of Munger has been mapped as critical on health issues and the Lakhisarai district has been mapped critical on health, education and protection issues.The team has planned to intervene in-depth on health & malnutrition, and minimal activity on education and protection issues. The intervention area covers 55 villages out of which 4 villages/wards lie in sadar urban area and are inhabited by a largely homogenous population (fishermen community) and the community setup is similar to rural setup. With regard to the Lakhisarai district, the team plans to intervene on health and nutrition aspects.
Some of their major achievements include:
- Engagement with child labor, dropouts and out of school children through cultural education center and mainstream them into public schools.
- Developing a volunteer base and building their knowledge, skills and capacities to take up child right issues for intervention.
- Strengthening children’s collectives and ensuring greater voice for girl children.
- Developing status report of ICDS, schools, child labor and sharing with government officials and media.
- Strengthening & empowering women’s groups, community based organizations and the larger community on children’s issues and ensuring their collective action for ensuring child rights.
Disha Vihar has continuously engaged with different government department and media personnel on the issue of children in the area and infrastructural issues. They also developed status report on ICDS and Schools and shared it with government officials and Media. This has led to more awareness in the community on children’s education and an increase in the retention and enrolment with focus on girls. Children in ICDS are also getting pre-school education now. Similarly, for the last 2 to 3 years there has been no child marriage in 43 villages.
- Bi-monthly meeting of mother’s collectives were organized in all the 5 blocks (Tarapur, Sadar Munger, Kharagpur, Asarganj and Suryagarha). Pregnant/lactating women, active member of Mata Samiti and women below the age of 40 participated in the meetings
- Child rights week focused on 2 aspects:
- Health issue of children (vaccination, health check up)
- Effects of child labor & child marriage on child’s health
- 50% uncovered children are linked with ICDS services.
- At the village level meeting, participation of women, men, ward members and ASHA/ Sevika (woman helper) was ensured. Issues discussed included cleanliness, use of toilet, women & community’s role in ensuring immunization of every child and their participation in proper functioning of AWC/PDS.
- Awareness generation on importance of breast feeding up to the age of 6 month.
- Women identified for capacity building were newly wed women, pregnant and lactating women and women members of Mata Samiti up-to the age of 35 years.
- Disha Vihar has formed 25 Munna Munni Manch (children’s collectives) having a membership of 568 children, where focus has been on health and hygiene habits.
This is the story of a daughter inspiring her mother to take a step in the right direction. This is Sarika’s story. A 15 year old student of Grade 9, Sarika was studying in the Sitalpur High School, in Munger. One of the brighter students in her class, Sarika was extremely interested in continuing her education. Her parents though, thought otherwise. They were already on the look out for a groom and the first step they took was to stop her from going to school.
It is the norm to get girls married as soon as possible. This ensured her ‘security’ in her adolescence. What they didn’t know was that they had underestimated their own daughter. As soon as she came to know of her wedding, Sarika alerted her friends in the “Munna Munni Manch” (Children’s Group in her village) and the Women’s Group. The parents, resorting to desperate measures, stopped her from leaving the house. She was trapped in her own home, and could not even meet her friends. In the meanwhile, the family of the groom met Sarika’s parents and her mother finalized her marriage. In order to make sure that there would be no obstacles in the way, the groom agreed to not take any dowry.
Sarika was not to be convinced. She held her ground. This enabled the staff of Disha Vihar, the community, the children’s group and the women’s group to sensitize Sarika’s parents against child marriage. While they spoke to the girl’s family about the ill effects of child marriage, they also explained the vulnerabilities that it would expose Sarika to; they informed the groom’s family that what they were doing is illegal. The groom’s family called off the marriage. Today, Sarika is back to doing what she does best – studying. She completed her Secondary Examinations in the year 2013 and Higher Secondary (Humanities) in the year 2015. She has applied for Bachelor of Arts in College, apart from pursuing a basic computer course. This, however, is not the end of the story. What Sarika has been able to do, is sensitize an entire village against the process of child marriage. More so, today this girl is accompanied by her mother in stopping child marriages in not only her own village, but also in the neighboring ones. That is what change makers are all about!
- Mapping of available health services in the reference area and provide access to the same.
- To create awareness on health issues like antenatal and postnatal care of pregnant women, child care, preventive diseases and health services.
- To mobilize the community to demand health services in the operational area.
- To sensitize and bring attention of the public health officials on health issues in the reference area with a view to seek redressal.
Focus 1: Reduction in MMR, CMR, IMR, maternal and child morbidity in the intervention areas
- To build awareness in the community on behavioural changes in matters related to child birth, child nutrition, breastfeeding,, institutional deliveries, immunization and other health care issues.
- To drive the immunization campaign in association with the government staff for children and pregnant women - ensure 100% children and pregnant women covered under immunization.
- To link pregnant women with health care provider for ANC/PNC and institutional child birth - 100% coverage of ANC and 50% PNC for women by Govt health service provider.
- Monthly meeting with adolescent girls and information dissemination on physical/mental/psychological growth and measures to be taken.
Focus 2: Malnutrition : Reduction of child malnutrition in the operational area
- To facilitate activation of more ICDS centres through both demand and supply level interventions - liaising with the government as well as mobilising the community.
- To develop understanding within the team and local communities on different facets of nutrition.
- To identify and link the malnourished/ SAM children to ICDS/Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRC’s).
Focus 3: To ensure fully functional ICDS /NRC’s in the operational area
- To ensure availability of quality services from the ICDS centres - 50% ICDS centres should maintain growth monitoring charts of all children.
- Mobilising community women to monitor the quality and variety of food served in the ICDS centres.
- Develop a status report on the functioning of ICDS centres in the reference area.
- Advocate for decentralised NRC’s at block level with the Government Health department.
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