Seva Mandir

Seva Mandir's mission is to make real the idea of society consisting of free and equal citizens who are able to come together and solve the problems that affect them in their particular contexts. The commitment is to work for a paradigm of development and governance that is democratic and polyarchic. Seva Mandir seeks to institutionalise the idea that development and governance is not only to be left to the State and its formal bodies like the legislature and the bureaucracy, but that citizens and their associations should engage separately and jointly with the State. The mission briefly, is to construct the conditions in which citizens of plural backgrounds and perspectives can come tog...
Nov 25, 2011

You helped 35 leaders for an MBA. Know more of it

Training of SHG women
Training of SHG women

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir!

Hope you are well. Earlier we told you about an MBA course that has been organized for SHG leaders. The program that you support offers a variety of oppurtunities to these leaders. The MBA course is one such opportunity. My colleagues have shared with me a blog that was written by one of the resource persons of this MBA program.

Also, a two day training on 8th and 9th September 2011 was conducted for 40 women leaders. The training focused on developing basic understanding on gender and included session on concept of sex and gender, patriarchy and socialization.

In addition, I also have some more news including a brief study carried out by one of our volunteers on the status of microcredit activities in our region. This time, my letter brings you a flavor of thoughts expressed by people who have been associated with the program you are supporting. Please find these snippets below my letter. 

I really hope you will enjoy reading about a different perspective of this work you champion. In my next letter to you, in a month, you will get to know the facts and figures of this program; as I will share with you the half yearly report of the program "Rural Women Support their Family And Villages".

Once again, thank you very much for being with us and supporting thousands of women of Rajasthan. Please do write to me in case of any queries.

With warm regards,

Deepti

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1)    The MBA program for women entrepreneur:

Ms. Zenobia Driver (a resource person for CREAM conducted for rural entrepreneurs) wrote a blog on Urja-Soy project of Seva Mandir. The blog gives details about problems in managing micro enterprises, market reach and its derived learnings.

She is currently working as Director at Escape Velocity (A business strategy and marketing consulting firm based in Mumbai). She also worked as a Senior Consultant with Momentum Strategy and as a Senior Product Manager with Johnsons and Johnsons.

She wrote: "In spite of having a lower-priced healthier product to offer, Urja initially struggled to grow. There were two main reasons for this – one, most people in Udaipur were not aware of the health benefits of soya paneer and were not sure how it would benefit them, and two –  the taste of soya paneer is different from that of paneer from milk, which is what people are used to. There is also a third problem of a reduced shelf life (2-3 days for Soya Paneer vs. 2 weeks for milk paneer), but this is less of an issue. Thus the key challenges facing Urja were to raise consumer awareness of the health benefits of paneer and to make the health benefit relevant, also to overcome the barrier of taste". Read her full blog on the following link  http://escape-velocity-blog.com/2011/06/30/%e2%80%98need-but-don%e2%80%99t-want%e2%80%99-%e2%80%93-solutions-from-a-microenterprise/

 (CREAM stands for Course in Rural Entrepreneurship, Administration and Management. It’s a curriculum designed and taught by industry professionals, NGO Leaders and academicians. It’s a part time MBA program designed for rural businessmen and employees of NGO’s running various livelihood projects. 18 people including 10 staff associated with the savings and credit programme and 8 rural entrepreneurs are associated with this programme)

2)    What a recent study on Microcredit says:

 A study on ‘An investigation into the status, problems and effectiveness of microcredit” was carried out by two volunteers in Urban and Badgaon Blocks during February to May 2011. The purpose of the study was to investigate the nature of microfinance, evaluate the risks of a crisis similar to that of Andhra Pradesh occurring in this region and investigate the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool for increasing socio-economic wellbeing.

The study revealed that there are 6 MFIs - Basix, SKS, Janalakshmi, Sahayata and Equitas and Asmitha operating in Urban block and one MFI – Sahayata,  also operational in Badgaon block. It also reflected that there is very little indication of any potential crisis due to MFIs in the near future, in this area. The interest rates are not unreasonably high, the number of loan per borrowers, at 1.8, is also within reasonable limits. Coercion by MFI employees is not something that was mentioned by borrowers and by far the majority intended to take future loans. However there existed the practice of taking commission by group leaders acting as middlemen between the MFIs and the borrowers as well as the issues of ‘fake lenders’ where deposits were taken without a loan being issued. For example - in one of the panchayats – Dhar, of Badgaon block in our area, a women claiming to be from an MFI took money from 35 people, Rs 1000 from each and promised to provide loan on that basis. The organization never visited the area again, and those who had given Rs.1000 did not receive a refund or their promised loan. No one knew this organization and our attempts of contacting them were not successful either. The organization has not been heard from, and attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful.

3)    Visitors in the city - observing women's meeting

The Programme Officer CHF (Co-operative Housing Foundation) International – India, along with her 4 team members visited a women’s group associated with Sadhna (Women’s handicraft enterprise) and Pula SHG cluster (an association of 15 SHGs) of Urban block during 26 to 27 May 2011. The visiting team participated in Pula Kachi Basti’s cluster meeting. They appreciated the way the meeting was conducted and felt happy to see the functioning of cluster and active participation of women. They were also happy to see the well maintained records and the rules and regulations especially related to loan disbursement and repayment. The visitors also appreciated the fact that women also discussed social issues along with issues related to savings and credit.

Story of Kalu:

Links:

Nov 17, 2011

You are reaching 120 kms to get children immunized

Gavri with her son, Atri Bai and some onlookers
Gavri with her son, Atri Bai and some onlookers

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir!

I was reading the New York Times today - the artcile "As New Graduates Return to Nest, Economy Also Feels the Pain" and I also read the news on the Hindustan Times "Expect relief from inflation". It is a tough time. Everywhere in the world there is unrest. The divide between the rich and poor is growing bigger. There are many interpretations and theories explaining and forecasting the future as ever. Amidst all these news and views on politics, corruption, economy downturn etc, I came across a brief story which my colleagues have written, which I also want to share with you. The story is simple but has an interesting feel of 'hope'. Somewhere very far in Udaipur (in South Rajasthan), the immunization camps that you support are helping many children and women's lives.

Amidst all of this hustle and bustle and rough time, your continuing support and faith in this program endows thousands of women and children with blessings. We are deeply grateful to you for your help. I really hope you will enjoy reading this story. Please feel free to write to me for any queries.

Thanks again and with warm regards,

Deepti

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Kotra Block is located at a distance of 120kms from the city of Udaipur and is one of the remotest regions in Seva Mandir’s working areas. It is completely a tribal belt with a number of villages bordering the state of Gujarat. The region sees a lot of migration to Gujarat for livelihood and also to access healthcare as there is a dearth of such facilities in the area.

Seva Mandir conducts monthly immunization camps reaching out to 33 hamlets in Kotra block. The villages chosen are those which are remote and are not covered by the government health workers. The unique features of the camps are regularity of the camps monitored through use of date & time stamped photographs of the Immunization teams at the camp sites and a non-cash incentive package to encourage demand for immunization. The camps are conducted on a fixed date every month in a centrally located place in a hamlet easily accessible to majority of the households. The camps provide complete vaccination for children aged 0-1 year, booster doses for children above one year age and ante-natal checkups for pregnant women. In addition, the camps also provide treatment & referral for childhood illnesses.

In each village hamlet, the trained Traditional Birth Attendant is responsible informing the villagers about the immunization days and gathering the children and pregnant women at the camp site on immunization day. The Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) goes around the village visiting each household to inform them about the forthcoming camp and also motivate them for immunization and antenatal care.

 

Immunization Camp at Sarli Naal

Sarli Naal, a village hamlet in Kotra block has its immunization camp on 21st of every month.

Atri Bai, the TBA of Sarli Naal has been working with Seva Mandir for 8 years. She narrated that before this camp, the closest one was a government run camp which was 3 kms away from this hamlet, making it difficult for the people to get their children immunized. The pregnant women too had to walk a long distance for their antenatal check ups. As a result, many of the women and children used to remain from getting immunized. Seva Mandir’s camp started in the year 2007, has come as a boon for the residents of the village as they could now get the services within a easy reach.

In the month of October 2011, the camp at Sarli Naal had 8 women who had come for antenatal checkups and seven children who had come for getting their vaccines.

Gavri, a 24 years old young mother had come to the camp for getting her seven month old son’s third dose of DPT vaccine. She had started coming to the camp when she was pregnant and had received both her tetanus shots and complete ante-natal checkups. Gavri agrees that the immunization is essential for both the mother and the child and is determined to take vaccination for her future pregnancies also.

Oct 25, 2011

You and USD 750,000 in Indian Villages.

Building strong village communities
Building strong village communities

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir!

Hope you are well. Thank you for supporting many rural communities of Udaipur, India. As you may know that your support towards this project strengthens their efforts.

With this letter, I would like to share with you a brief note that my colleagues have put together of various activities they have been doing in this program with your support. Such as –

1)    25 women were trained for women’s participation in village meetings, raising their concerns and getting involved in decision making.

2)    250 village development committee members took part in workshops in order to build their capacities of supporting village development projects.

3)    200 villages were graded as per their capability of supporting local development projects.

4)    620 villages have access to over USD 750,000 in their village development fund now.

Please have a look at the report enclosed to have a full picture of the progress.

All this progress is very exciting for the villagers also as much as these to us. On top of it, the program you are supporting is very important to build social solidarity. The core idea of this program is to bring communities together and allow them to create a democratic environment to deliberate on issues they care about. This is not an easy program and requires much effort and patience. We are fortunate to have donors like you and our brilliant people to work with us on these programs.

So thank you again, for standing by us. It is not easy for anyone to support a difficult idea such as this project. We really are grateful to you for your regular support and hope that you will consider telling about this project to your other friends too.  Incidentally, 19th October Global Giving will match any donation made to us. It is an opportunity to strengthen your support further. We hope you will be able to use this opportunity.

Also to share with you,  that the monsoon was wonderful this year. It rained a lot every where in Udaipur and the lakes filled up pretty quickly. As you know Udaipur is the most famous tourist attraction of Asia. Therefore, good rains assures a good tourist year too.

On the other hand, the rains may have not assured a good crop for “Maize (the corn)” because it rained a bit too much in some places. The corn is the major staple diet in this region. However, the positive side of the rains is that increased moisture of the ground will ensure good crops for winters. Though not most farmers are able to grow wheat and gram in winters, the overall availability of water has definitely increased due to good rains.

Thanks once again for your generous support. We hope to hear from you on this feedback. Happy Diwali to you in advance from all of us here.

With warm regards,

Deepti

Links:


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