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Gram Mitra registered in 1999 is dedicated to work for the rights of tribal and dalit children and advocate to address issues like livelihood, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) and forest rights. Babubhai Srivas the project holder of Gram Mitra has done Masters in Social Work and has been working for dalit and adivasi communities since last 5 years. The organization is working in Chhattisgarh to ensure educational rights of the tribal and dalit children and protect the resources of livelihood. The organisation named as ‘Gram Mitra’ means Friend of Village, in the hope that it would build a strong community of people who have otherwise been excluded from mainstream society and social welfare schemes. The team in Gram Mitra believes in and follows the motto of ‘Sangathan mein Shakti’ i.e. ‘Strength in cooperation’. The organisation has vowed to strengthen the community and create in them the ability to better protect, consolidate and manage their natural resources such as water, forests and land in order to secure their present and future livelihoods. They also aim to preserve the culture, heritage and empowerment of the Dalits and Tribals with focus on women and children. In its first year of partnership with CRY, Gram Mitra will intervene in 13 villages of Korba and Kartala Tehsil of Korba district.
The entire Korba district is brought under the PESA Act, wherein several Panchayat Extensions are provided to 5th Scheduled Areas of Chhattisgarh. But majority of the area is inhibited by tribal communities dependent on agro-based economy. The main reference communities are Scheduled tribes (Gond, Raj Gond, Kawar, Bhaiyana, Binjwar and Dhanuhar Pahari korva) and Scheduled castes (Satnami, Ganda and Panka). Irrigation facilities have not reached the border villages. Infrastructure development such as roads, telecommunications and even electricity are poor. Majority of the areas are backward border areas, which has agro-based economy dependent on rain and dependent on forest for survival. Irrigation facilities have not reached the border villages. Infrastructure development such as roads, telecommunications and even electricity are poor. Due to poor road infrastructure transport systems are poor, even today; the communities have to walk 8-10 kms for the nearest health service.
Employment opportunities are highly dependent on rain and migration is rampant in the area. Due to this, child education is affected thus resulting in low literacy rate, high absenteeism (50%) and even higher drop-out rates (60%) in the border areas. Severe anemic conditions and malnutrition are observed in women and children. Poor implementation of development programs/schemes can be seen owing to the distance from the district headquarters. The officials are reluctant to visit the villages due to inaccessibility to the habitation.
- Sensitizing the communities on Child Rights pertaining to the Right to identity and facilitate to ensure birth/death registration and caste registration
- Capacity building of staff and the community level volunteers on holistic understanding on the functioning of ICDS, PDS and health centers and thereby initiate the process of demand and activation.
- Build understanding on malnutrition, status of malnutrition in the area and mobilize the health workers to cater to the health needs of the area.
- Develop case stories, Share reports with the department and collaborate with media to advocate on the issue of health.
- Ensure enrollment of all out of school children and strengthen schools to ensure further retention and absenteeism.
- Strengthen the SMCs to ensure take initiatives on the activation of schools.
- Strengthen the women groups to take initiatives against Child Marriage and alcoholism.
- Build understanding on Child participation and strengthen the children groups to enhance participation of other children to join groups.
Gram Mitra Samaj Sevi Sanstha was registered on August 31, 1999 under the Society Registration Act by the group of college friends, who were inspired by the youth activities organized for the rights of the downtrodden community.
- to ensure the educational rights of the tribal and dalit children and protect the resources of the livelihood
- to promote the issues of the Right to Education and strengthen the accountability and transparency
- to contribute to increased realisation of the rights of tribal in Korba district
- to promote the awareness on the nuances of PESA and forest right
- to ensure protection of resources of the livelihood through community participation
Review and Impact
The organisation has been building the perspective of the mahila mandal, children’s group towards ensuring enrollment, retention of children and activation of SMCs, this has resulted in parents and community monitoring the children going to school and also ensuring retention of children in school. The organisation has been able to enroll destitute children after taking up the issue with the block education officer and teachers. Due to awareness created by the animators, regarding the importance of education, the parents have started sending their children to school regularly, the children who have never been to school has been enrolled in school by their parents. The organisation has initiated the process of building the perspective on health and health services among the community and mahila mandal, the community has started understanding the importance of birth and death registration. The communities have understood the importance of ICDS and have started demanding activation of new ICDS centres in the reference area. The organisation has created awareness regarding protection issues of children especially on child marriage and child labour among the mahila mandal and community atlarge. The gram panchayat members have also started monitoring the child marriages. The mahila mandal has taken up the issue of alcoholism in the villages.
- Out of 110 children identified as never gone to school, only 4 could be enrolled into schools, out of 88 drop-out children, 24 children were re-enrolled
- 11 primary schools activated, 1 more in process
- Mid day meal activated and monitored in 11 primary schools
- 100% new births registered, ANM visits regularized in 10 villages
- 89% older children covered under immunization
- 2 new mini ICDS centres activated, 11 ICDS are being in the process of activation
- 597 individuals received employment through MNREGA
- No child marriages were reported from 14 out of total 15 reference villages, only 1 case in the 15th village
- 5 villages have stopped making alcohol in the village
- 15 children’s groups continued functioning actively
- Campaign for 100% enrollment of 22 out of school children and for all children aged 6-14 years to be enrolled into schools
- Campaign for 100% enrollment of all eligible children in ICDS centres
- Activate 15 new primary schools and community monitoring system
- Ensure 100% immunization of all children aged 0-6 yrs, all new births to be registered
- Campaign for activation of 15 new ICDS centres
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