Prakash, the project leader was kind enough to answer some questions that I asked him about his involvement and experience with the project.
Question: How and why did you become involved in this work?
After completing my MA in Economics I decided to go for Master of Social Work (MSW). After receiving MSW degree I worked with grass root NGO for 4 years, funding organisation for another four years and there after decided to start a small work where I can use my education, experience and knowledge for the betterment of down trodden people of my area. I belong to Sangamner area so I started my work there. Since my child hood I was seeing processions and marches of Bidi Rollers for their lawful rights and was slightly aware with their problems. Sangamner is a pocket where bidi business is concentrated and women of around 50 villages are earning bread by rolling bidies. In the initial stage I got support from OXFAM to conduct an action research on Problems of Bidi Rollers which helped me to learn more about their problems .
Question: What is your vision for the children involved in your project?
Bidi Rolling is a cycle and after mother or mother-in-law the daughter or daughter-in-law take over this work. I thought that NISD was small agency so we couldn't provide meaningful employment to bidi rollers to keep them away from hazardous work. But we can bring some comfort in their lives by way of taking different activities. However I was very sure that we can at least save the lives of young generation and stop them to come in this business. This is possible by taking steps on children’s health, education and skill building program.
My and NISD’s vision is “We want a world where inequality based on class, gender and religion is absent and no person will get exploited by any one. We want a world where basic needs become basic rights and where poverty and all forms of exploitation are eliminated. Each person will have the opportunity to develop her or his full potential and creativity, which will lead him/her towards sustainable development.”