First of all, a very big thank you for your continuing support to this program. I am writing to provide you with a brief description of what the Village Development Program is and how it helps achieve these communities their goal of being ‘self reliant’.
I will attempt to give you a short overview of the program and the progress we have made in the program you are supporting. However, a detailed report on the same is enclosed with this update for your reference. A story of one village in detail is also provided with this update so that the process and day-to-day activities in this program can be explained better.
Building self reliant rural communities is an essential feature of the Village Institution Program of Seva Mandir. Therefore, the Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK) or the Village Development Fund is an innovative concept of Seva Mandir, which aims to build social solidarities that enable villagers to organize themselves, express their demands and needs, and work towards their fulfilment.
This is done through the creation and management of a village level fund, formed from people’s contributions. Then the Gram Vikas Committees (GVC), democratically elected, non-party and non-religiously affiliated citizen associations are set up in villages. These committees are provided with a number of trainings in good governance, management and community leadership. These committees hold the GVKs.
Seva Mandir has set up over 587 GVKs. The total funds saved by these community institutions over the years is now close to Rs 33,000,000 ($733,334).
The GVKs have become a locus of community solidarity and autonomy. They are the intersection between economic and social development, with the money collected and generated being used for supporting education, health, etc., in the village. The bulk of the money in these funds has come from individual contributions.
While Seva Mandir has been successful in having such community funds (formed through individual contributions) accepted at the village level, it feels that the potential of leveraging this money for reinforcing solidarity and supporting village development remains underdeveloped.
In fact, today the idea of such Community Foundations has gained so much ground in Seva Mandir’s area that even in its peri-urban work areas, people are integrating this concept into their interventions.
Seva Mandir feels that the economic dimension of these Funds has immense untapped potential. The funds are held in the individual village bank accounts and the largest amount in a village is approximately Rs 900,000 ($20,000). There are about 80 villages with balances greater than Rs 100,000 ($2,223).
Together with village communities Seva Mandir is exploring of federating these GVKs to tap into greater benefits for all. The objective is to take the GVKs to a new level by aggregating them and creating opportunities for more effective use of the capital in order to maximise their social and financial potential. The next step of federating these GVKs has begun. We will keep you abreast of the progress.
The progress so far, would have not been possible without the support received from people like you. We would like to extend our gratitude to your support and faith in this program.
Please have a look at the report enclosed herewith; it will give you a brief idea of the overall program and some more figures. We would be very happy to receive feedback from you in case of any.
Thank you once again for all your significant support. We hope that you would be able to visit us someday.
With warm regards,
Story - Hilary a volunteer from Canada wrote about a village meeting (Kagmandana) she attended. The brief write up she wrote is given below-
“Self-Governance and Self-Confidence: The Women Take Charge – by Hilary (Canada)
The GVC (village development committee) of Kharmandala village in Badgaon Block was first established in 1992 and now, in 2010, holds the largest GVK (collective village corpus) overseen by Seva Mandir. The relative success of the Kharmandala GVK can be greatly attributed to the highly equitable operation of its GVC.
I observed a meeting of this GVC in December 2009 and it was one of the largest, most energetic groups I had yet seen. Over 25 villagers were in attendance, in addition to the 11 GVC members (of which five were female). It was a pleasant surprise to see that it was the women of Kharmandala who were in control of the entire meeting. The women’s confidence level could be clearly linked to their involvement with the GVC; the committee had provided them with a place and a platform to discuss their issues openly and where they were treated as equals. This was a revelation; in many other villages that I had visited, the women still struggled to have a voice or a position of significance in the GVC.
One of the attendees in Kharmandala, Hameri Bai, was the lone female post-holder on the GVC. As Treasurer, she is responsible for administering the GVK and her leadership role has clearly had many positive impacts on how other women in the village participate in the decision-making process. Hameri Bai, a mother of three who has held her post for the past six years, has ensured that all of the female members of the GVC are engaged in the committee activities by putting them in charge of the GVK loan repayment system. Repayments are central to the function of the GVK and it speaks volumes that the women of Kharmandala have been entrusted with this important task. When asked about this responsibility being placed in the hands of the women, Hameri Bai responded that “we are all here to work for our village, the men and the women. We all have a part in this.”
As the meeting carried on, I realized that I was witnessing the process of development unfold and in a truly democratic way. Given a proper forum for discussion and repeated trainings in self-governance and women’s empowerment, the 262 households of Kharmandala will surely continue to thrive and will hopefully remain as an excellent example of the benefits of having an all-inclusive GVC.”
The full story of the village Kagmandana is also given with this update as an attachment.