meeting in village
You must be happy to see all the fellows you are supporting are engaged in a variety of social issues. Before you could find out the recent progress these fellows are making, I would like you to know some news about our monsoon.
The monsoon has been great so far. It rained almost every day this year which is unusual to this region. Usually we receive 20 rainy days in the monsoon. Just yesterday one of the most popular lakes in Udaipur city – Fatehsagar has got filled up fully with lots of rain water. Hundreds of people are gathering around the lake to enjoy the water spill over. In villages too some of the streams are flowing and everyone is very happy with the monsoon and greenery everywhere.
My colleague Heerendra has written a very comprehensive report to share with you about the Fellowship Program. He is also shared two stories which you would enjoy reading. You can find his report below my letter.
Some snapshots are given below for you to scan quickly –
1. There are 16 fellows. We started with 19, but 3 left the program.
2. The second review meeting was held on 30th June 2010.
3. The main themes Fellows have taken up include women empowerment, social issues, illegal encroachments, financial restitution for a death, corruption etc.
4. Two cases of witch accusation and financial restitution are presented below. These cases were being solved by the Fellows you are supporting.
With your support these fellows are keep going with the social struggles in their respective regions. Thank you so much for bringing about the change in rural Rajasthan. We are highly grateful to your continuing support.
It would be very encouraging if you could provide us with your comments on our feedback reports that we post on Global Giving in addition to your continuing support. It would help us improve in our communication with you. Thank you once again.
We will keep you posted on our progress.
With warm regards,
Vikas Mitra Fellowship:
As you know there are 16 Vikas Mitra Fellows (friends of development). They are working in the blocks of Kotra, Kherwara, Badgaon, Girwa and Jhadol. At the start of the program there were 19 members, though three dropped out or were asked to leave for a variety of different reasons. This year the fellows worked on a number of different issues pertaining to the local areas like: mautana (financial restitution for a death), daakan (witch accusation), forest protection, illegal holdings (encroachments), tree plantation, the responsibility of citizens, NREGA (the Government employment guarantee program), legal rights, women and youth participation in panchayats (local village councils), women empowerment, violation against women, Below Poverty Line (BPL) list and right to information.
Second Review Meeting
The Vikas Mitra Fellows have been working hard and have achieved successful results over their areas of working. The second fellowship performance review meeting of the Vikas Mitra fellows was conducted on 30 June 2010 and the fellows presented a presentation of the work done over the past one and a half years. The participants of the meeting were the chief executive, fellowship program advisory committee members, and all mentors of the fellows and some of the fellows from the Kherwara block. In this meeting, the mentors shared the work done in the various villages and whether they were successful or not. The committee members were very appreciative of the work done by the fellows and discussing the work of the fellows and asking about the upcoming problems as well as their expectations from Seva Mandir in these areas.
1. Story: Issue of Mautana solved by the Fellow Heera Lal Pargi:
Seli bai (name changed) was from the village of Sawan Kyra and was married to Rata of the Mahadi village, where she lived with their three children. Rata suffered from an unknown mental illness and had been seeing a bhopa (traditional healer) for treatment,
One-day Rata’s mother went to the forest to collect wood and Rata went after her with a sword to try and kill her. When Seli came to know about this, she tried to protect her but instead Rata attacked and killed her with the sword. After this, Rta hung himself to death. Upon receiving the information about their daughter’s death, Seli’s parents and some people from her village came to Mahadi to assess the situation. They then later returned with more people and started fighting and arguing over the mautana amount. They demanded Rs.10 lakhs (USD 22,222) for mautana.
Upon becoming aware of the situation the Vikas Mitra fellows along with police held many long discussions with Seli’s parents to try and negotiate a lower settlement of the mautana amount. Initially her parents were not ready for any kind of negotiations as they had just lost their daughter but the fellows made them realized that Rata also died making his parents equally helpless.
Finally the fellow was successful in solving this problem and the mautana amount was reduced to Rs.4 lakhs (USD 8,888). At the time of the agreement Rs. 25,000 (USD 555) was paid, while the rest of the amount was to be paid back in installments.
Even though the financial demand wasn’t brought down too significantly, the intervening of Heera Lal and the Police helped in making sure that the physical violence was avoided.
2. Story: Issue of daakan (witch) solved by the fellows Savita Devi:
Through their work, the Vikas Mitra Fellows are able to address local social issues, raise awareness about these issues and make the local people aware of their rights and responsibilities. One of the important issues the fellows work on is daakan pratha (being accused of being a witch).
Hari Bhai (name changed) and his 55-year-old wife, Muni Devi, lived in the village of Kalasua Phala with their 9 children. Their neighbor Gatam, used to verbally abuse and harass Muni Devi and call her a daakan (witch). He would spread rumors about her to the village, trying to destroy her reputation. He even went as far as too enter her house at night and verbally harass her.
Initially Muni Devi would just ignore his insults and the rumors but over time as the harassment continued she sought the help of the Vikas Mitra Fellows. The fellow went to the panchayat Sabha (local village council meetings) to present Muni Devi’s case and seek justice. Through the help of the fellow and their collaboration with the panchayat, it was agreed that Gatam would be fined Rs. 1000 for abusing Muni Devi and calling her a witch. Furthermore any other villager found participating in similar behavior would be fined and punished as per the panchayats laws.