Aug 29, 2017

We only celebrate; Children live, learn and teach.

Friendship day celebrations at MaitriGram
Friendship day celebrations at MaitriGram

Dear Maitri Friend,

It gives us a great pleasure to inform you about all the “work and play” happening at MaitriGram. July and August are months with important dates that celebrate the spirit of friendship, love, brotherhood and freedom. Maitri has witnessed some of the most beautiful meanings that the children have attached to these days. We would love to share these meanings and moments, because you are contributory in creating such a motivating and magical place.

 

 Celebrating friendship:

 There was a heap of chart papers, crayons and sparkling/sketch pens in the hall. Creative minds were supplied all the essentials to utilize them and make the best out of it. There were butterflies, flowers, friendship bands drawn on the colorful chart papers. Just after material distribution, these children of Maitrigram started their colourful work. It was card-making session for the kids. Divided into a group of four, with one elder and three young, it took a lot of perseverance and patience. The activities were based on the theme of friendship day and rakhi. Everyone depicted different meanings of friendship and a lot more was shared. It was a day full of love and warmth, when children, while some of them were also siblings, collectively made rakhi by ribbons, cotton balls, decorative stars and what not!

 

Today we live amid so many riddles, so many heartbreaks, so many unfinished responsibilities. It’s also because human wants are ever growing and recurring in nature. Aspirations are perpetual. But here, the children have taught us meanings of friendship and love in a different manner. The want is minimal, here less is more. Happiness is as strong as the bonds they believe in, and as sharp the shapes of the cards they made.

 Undoubtedly it's the children who make these days much more fun and pleasant, and collectively teach us the meanings of friendship and love.Maitri (Sanskrit) means benevolence, loving-kindness, friendliness, amity, good will, and active interest in others. The children have successfully depicted these emotions in all the activities they were involved with.

 Celebrating independence:

The Indian flag, tri-colored balloons, innumerable packs of tri-colored badges and wrist bands scattered on the table. That’s how everyone at Maitrigram began, by decorating the walls and windows of MaitriGramschool.\Despite the sweaty weather, everyone toiled enthusiastically and by 3 p.m the room was full of vibrancy. kids in white kurta-pyajama and other performersin dashing attires. It was an evening of young energetic poets and dancers. Songs like vande mataram secretly recited in their hearts and the tri-colored badges thumping on our chests. It was a beautiful feeling to be part of this school, where young minds added on to the spirit of freedom and independence. They all danced on patriotic songs, recited poems and sung songs.

 After the celebration, they were provided snacks, which surely made their evening, a pack of biscuits, chips and juice. The hustle was part of the celebration, since so many nippers in one big room were hard to handle.

They sang the national anthem with full vigor and valor, with caps on their head and wristbands on their hand.

Teaching a lot more than learning

 MaitriGram provides not just tutorial classes but opportunities for personality development, skill enhancement and participation in extra-curricular activities. These activities requires a lot of effort from both the sides, teachers and as well as students. Giving ideas and applying them is a two way process. Teachers help kids here, in communicating as well, since many kids especially younger ones are timid and often become reluctant participators. By working in a group, it makes them interactive, share ideas and make full use of facilities provided by the school.

 Such celebrations are significant because they shape different meanings in the mind of a child. Surprisingly, Children of Maitrigram have rather added new feathers to the spirit of these celebrations. While Maitri has provided such an environment, the children are the ones who have added different meanings and shades to them. And while Maitrigram and the children are the key participants, it’s because of help and support from donors like you, that such dynamics has been created. You have helped impart meanings to emotions and feelings of friendship, love and freedom with the children of MaitriGram. What more can an education expect? And what more journeys can we all take? Thank you for all your support and lets create more of such meanings and journeys,

Aug 16, 2017

Struggle, Survive and Success; Stories that heal

 In a country like India, a young widow can get married and have a life of change whereas an old widow is thrown into a life of hell- one of the widows, Vrindavan.

June marks two important days, “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” and “International Widows’ Day” and we at Maître understand how deeply these two days are interlinked with each other.Many elderly women in India lead lives of neglect and poverty. In particular, elderly widowed women are often denied even basic rights such as food, health-care and are thrown out of their homes by their families. Maitrighar aims to provide a safe home for abandoned widows. We would like to thank you for your support. You help in providing a voice and strengthen a journey that refuses to bow down before abuse and discrimination.

 Maitri ghar is not just a home but also a space that encourages and salutes fights and voices against abuse. Maitri believes and salutes stories of struggles. Above all, Maitri understands that these journeys are extraordinary and sharing them acknowledges the beauty of courage and plants seeds of hope. Maitri believes sharing heals half of the wounds and opens a path towards change and freedom.

 For instance, one of the widows, living with us since June 2014, speaks about her experiences and journeys with a touch of hope and spirit of survival. “My husband was old and he got frail and sick and eventually died. My first husband sold me off to a man with six kids along with my daughter for Rs. 20,000 After five years, he came to take me back, but people around me started shaming me and the second man to whom I was sold married me. My second husband took good care of me when he was alive. He gave me a dignified life and a name in society. However, after his death, his children and my only daughter started beating and abusing me, threatened me with dire consequences, and forced me to sign property papers. I used to cry, but the children were not moved by my plight. They wanted me to move out of the house. It felt terrible, because life changed at the drop of a hat. The position and respect that was given to me was snatched away from me and I was stricken with all kinds of grief.”

 She speaks as she raises some important questions about respect, identity and pain. “Words cannot explain the grief that I have experienced. My heartbreaks when I think of that pain, nobody can understand what I have gone through. I cry thinking about how my own children treated me. I was old, frail and illiterate. I used to pray to God that some angel would come from somewhere and take me away from this pain.In a country like India, a young widow can get married and have a life of change whereas an old widow is thrown into a life of hell.”

 For her, Maitri is a home. “Maître has helped me overcome all the pain. I never feel lonely or alone here, and the environment here gives me solace and makes me remember my childhood days." Maître wants to rather thankyou , because your support has helped us provide such a home and has brought attention to such stories of struggles and victories.

 Your contribution also ensures that the widow mothers live in healthy and hygienic environment. They have clean rooms, clean beds, and maintain personal hygiene, which is necessary for a healthy life.

 With your partnership, we are enabling about 55 widows are in Radhakund’s Maitri Ghar and 66 widows are in Vrindavan Maitri Gharto live with dignity and respect. We also have 3 non-resident widows at Radha Kund who come for Lunch and Milk distribution. 7185 meals and 2266 fruits were served to the widows..In the month of July, 365 widows from Vrindavan and Radha Kund were taken to the hospital for checkup and medications. 6 Health camps have beenorganized.

 Thank you for being our pillar of strength! Thank you for being instrumental in sharing these stories of struggles and shaping journeys of victories along with the widows of Vrindavan and RadhaKund.

Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
Health checkup at Maitrighar
Aug 1, 2017

Building toilets; Bridging lives

Initially under the second phase and third phases, six bio toilets in 6 garages, and 10 bio toilets have been initiated in 2 garages and 4 urban slums of Ranchi Municipal Corporation. These initiatives are for the benefits of more than 700 rickshaw pullers.

Maitri believes that this outreach work will be instrumental in shaping as wellas adding on to the work with rickshaw pullers.As per a report from WorldHealth Organization (WHO), more than 700 million people in India lack access to toilets and sanitation. They defecate in open fields, water sources or other sources, which again leads to different kind of diseases and pollutions. These figures are alarming because not only it constitutes half of the entire population of India but also is more than twice the number of people practicing open defecation in 18 different countries combined. Maitri is hopeful that construction of toilets in these garages will end the practice of open defection, and will be one step towards accessing public health right in India.

Camps focusing on generating awareness and disseminating information

While construction of toilets is a continuing process, Maitri organizes different kind of activates and camps to strengthen developmental work with migrant workers. BCC camps were organized to improve understanding and generate awareness around the rights available. The camps helped in explaining as well as disseminating important information regarding usage and importance of UID, ration card, BPL cards, bank account etc. Rickshaw pullers are also playing an active role in demanding their rights. The camps are also becoming more interactive in nature and have moved towards a new phase where important dialogues about concepts of identity, dignity and respect are being
exchanged.

One of the topics discussed at every camp is the need to follow proper health and sanitation practices. We live in a country where thousands die every year because of diseases transmitted through human waste. As per a report submitted by WaterAid, more than 140,000 under-fives die in India each year from diarrhea. The discussions got a lot of support as well as the needs to built toilets were welcomed with an affirmative yes. These camps are important for awareness as well as hanging behaviors. In places where toilets are constructed, because of lack of effective awareness and discussion, people don't adapt themselves to these changes. Culture related obstacles; lack of proper campaigning creates obstacles in this process. Maître has noticed effective changes and impacts of creating dialogues and awareness with people. Rickshaw pullers who are mostly migrant population are now not just self aware, but want to replicate the same in their homes and villages they belong to.

Case study: An example of positive impact.

“When I started pulling rickshaw 18 years back, rent to hire a rickshaw was 2 INR and I managed to earn 120 to 150 INR daily. I gave 2 INR as rent and used to spend some on food and could manage to save upto 7 to 8 INR at the end of the day”. -One of the benefeciaries of the project.

Today , he is 53 year old and earns around 250 INR per day from which he pays 40 INR to owner of the garage as rent. He spends around 10-15 INR for food and buys groceries with the rest amount. He manages to save around 100 INR per day. He has been in the vocation of rickshaw pulling from past 18years. He has his own house in Jhiri village, Ranchi. He hires rickshaw on rent from Vijay garage. He commutes from his village to the city for earning livelihood on a daily basis. He lives with his two sons and he lost his wife to anaemia. His elder son works for Ranchi Municipal Corporation as a rag picker from which he earns 5, 500 INR per month and younger son work as a labourer. The elder son is married and has two daughters and a son. After getting information about ration card and its usage through Maitri’s BCC camps organized at the Vijay garage, Shivnath applied for all relevant documents and received them too. Now he receives ration too.

He lives in a mud house with no toilet facilities. After witnessing the toilets built by Maitri, he is hopeful to construct one toilet in his area as well.However he is not able to get an application from the Mukhiya. He is deeply inspired from the work and activities of Maitri and is determined to build a toilet in his area. He acknowledges how building a toilet is a step towards accessing health right and hence a step towards a life of respect and dignity. Better toilets can lead to better lives. He is grateful for Maitri for working towards improving lives and making a difference.

Construction of toilets in Vijay Garage
Construction of toilets in Vijay Garage
Construction of toilets in Vijay Garage
Construction of toilets in Vijay Garage
 
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