People First Educational Charitable Trust

People First aims to work closely with oppressed and disadvantaged communities and vulnerable individuals in breaking the centuries - old cycle of ignorance and oppression by providing opportunities for education. The trust believes the best way to achieve long - term positive social change is through education and we work in the areas of greatest need where no other education is available to the poor and oppressed. Our mission is the bringing of educational opportunity and to promote health and social rights to those to whom such opportunities have previously been denied due to poverty family circumstances or oppression. The Trust aims to work with the most marginalized me...
Jul 8, 2010

Prolonging the Agony

It has been a long time since the district saw any significant rain. Ground water levels are falling, traditional wells are becoming contaminated.The need for deep water hand pumps is more than ever and the effect of just one water pump for the whole village in terms of improved health and quality of life is huge. Thank you for your support for this important appeal. The following is a press item from today,

Will drought haunt Bihar farmers again? 2010-07-07 14:10:00 It's a different year, but little has changed. Farmers in many Bihar districts are a worried lot as scanty monsoon rains have badly affected paddy sowing and triggered fears of a drought - just like last year. Maheshwar Singh, a farmer in Aurangabad district, fears he will not be able to complete paddy sowing owing to parched farms. 'We are facing a lot of problems because it's not raining. Cracks have developed in the land. Only the rain god can save us,' he said. Suhail Khan, a farmer in Gaya district, said there was fear that their paddy seeds would become dry if it didn't rain soon. 'We are praying for rain to save our livelihood,' Khan said. Singh and Khan are two of the thousands of paddy and maize farmers in the districts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada and parts of Patna who are worried and helpless as lack of rains have triggered fears that they may face another drought. 'These districts may be headed for another drought,' Bhagwan Bhaskar, a Left activist said. To make matters worse, farmers are complaining that there is no water in the canals for irrigation. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from Sone river and regulated through canals. Monsoon normally hits the state between June 12 to June 14. While the rains have begun, they have been scanty. The state has received 134.4 mm of rainfall against its requirement of 202.8 mm. The districts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal, Jehanabad and parts of Patna have received nearly 33 mm of rainfall against 95 mm till date. Official sources said paddy sowing was badly hit in the 26 districts declared drought-hit by the state government last year following poor rains. According to the meteorological office, Bihar has recorded a rainfall deficit of 34 percent so far. 'A bad sign for the state and particularly for districts that faced drought last year,' an official said. Last year, the state government declared 26 districts, including Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal and Nawada, drought hit following a rainfall deficit of 29 percent.

Jul 3, 2010

Rescue Junction Site Visit

The kids of Rescue Junction
The kids of Rescue Junction

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On June 4th he visited People First’s Rescue Junction in Gaya, India. His “Postcard” from the visit:

Nick Hansen of People First had the same reaction I did to seeing shabby-looking kids seemingly living at railway stations: Well, there must be someone looking out for them. Over time he came to find out that there in fact wasn’t anyone in the area where People First was working—no government program, no other NGOs and often no family for hundreds of miles. He decided to step in to fill the gap. Faced with such a daunting problem—transient kids, many orphans, many sniffing glue or doing other drugs, scraping out a living on platforms and trains—People First’s primary goal was just to meet the children’s basic needs. But the organization knows that’s only treating the symptom and so also started a campaign to increase public awareness of the problem and has an ultimate goal to work with the government to create a comprehensive program to deal with the causes and consequences of platform children.

Nick expects this process to take 20 years. Five years in and he says they are ahead of schedule. From my visit I can only speak to the meeting-basic-needs step, but this seems to be well in hand. I found Rescue Junction to be a clean, safe place that is providing dozens of these platform children with the support they need to change their lives. Obviously a big draw is food—but the kids are only eligible for meals if they stay for classes in math, English, etc. There are basic dormitories. They provide medical treatment, counseling and legal assistance. Where appropriate, “lost children” are reunited with their parents or other family members (over 100 have been thus far, according to Nick). People First also encourages a sense of responsibility; the children are free to come and go as they please. All the support they need they can get from Rescue Junction, but they need to commit to taking it.

Changed awareness in the community and government is difficult to gauge in a one-day site visit but Nick tells me they’ve also seen progress on these fronts. Their surveys indicate that the proportion of the community that’s aware of the problem of platform children has gone from 15% to 80% in the time they’ve been working. The police apparently are also seeing these children differently. Sexual abuse at the station has stopped, according to Nick. And the government is interested in promoting their program in every rail station in the district.

While there is still much to be done, People First has made good progress and seems well on their way toward meeting their goals by 2025.

Jun 21, 2010

The need for Non Governmental Organisations

It is not our intention of course to comment on the actions or inactions of government. We wish to cooperate with everyone, especially at local level. Whilst not strictly a progress report the newspaper article below is self explanatory and we are posting it to demonstrate the important role that NGOs have to play in disaster relief in the flood affected areas . We would to once again like to thank you for your support as we prepare with local communities for the upcoming monsoon. A more detailed report with details of our work will be posted very soon.

FLOOD RELIEF FUNDS LYING UNUSED AND UNUTILISED RETURNED TO GUJARAT A week after he threatened to return the "unutilised money" to Gujarat, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returned Rs 5 crore, which was given by the Gujarat government led by Narendra Modi for Kosi flood relief in 2008 to the state, on Saturday. Disaster Management Minister Divesh Chand Thakur told rediff.com over telephone that the Bihar government had returned the "unutilised money" to Gujarat. "The state government has returned the Rs 5 crore (over one million US dollars) to Gujarat government. There was nothing surprising in it as the government was working on it," Thaskur said. On June 12, Nitish had threatened on the first day of the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive meeting in Patna to return the amount to Modi after a Gujarat government's advertisement published in local newspapers boasted of its "liberal donation to Bihar during the 2008 Kosi floods". He also cancelled a dinner organised for the top brass of the BJP to convey his disapproval about the advertisement featuring him with Modi. Nitish had said that the Gujarat government's claim (on flood relief) was uncivilised and against Indian culture. "Nobody claims of bestowing favours on those who face tragedy caused by natural calamities," he had said. He said he did not know the exact amount contributed to the relief fund by Gujarat. "I will go through the details and immediately return the money received from Modi which was lying unspent in the CM's relief fund," Nitish had then said. He also took strong exception to the use of his photograph with Modi in another advertisement published in local dailies. Kumar even threatened to take legal action against those responsible for it. The Janata Dal-United leader has always kept himself at a distance from Modi, due to the latter's alleged role in the communal carnage in Gujarat in 2002, and avoided sharing any public platform with Modi in Bihar.

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