The Community Development Programme is a wing of the Social Ministry of the Diocese of Durgapur. This programme aims to go beyond the human distinctions of class, creed, religion and gender to provide holistic development opportunities to the people who come seeking help at our doors and to the tribal communities who reside in the episcopate of our Diocese.
UnitingWorld, Australia, has been our constant partner in this journey of development which has helped us bring God's healing touch and mercy to the lives of those who are downtrodden in our society.
The Community Development Programme was formed in 2014 through the amalgamation of two, previously separate, development projects - The Community Development Programme of Sarenga and the Urban Slum Development Project in Durgapur.
Since it's renewed inception, the porject focuses on three major areas in order to promote sustainaible evelopment with long-term benefits. These three areas are:
Education has been the definiing aspect of this programme which has helped in the development of the children, their parents and the communities at large. The study centres are the most effective component of the Community Development Programme. The teachers, who are also Community Workers (in the villages), are mainly responsible for bringing about a change in atitude towards education. While, earlier, the parents would rather put the children to work, than send them to schools, now they have understood the value of educatin their children which can lead to better income and job opportunities for their children in the long run.
The dedicated teachers are highly sensitive towards the needs of the children. They perform background checks, and assess individual needs of each child in orer to promote holistic development for every student in the study centres. Quality education is integrated with co-curricular activities like singing, dancing, drawing, crafts and sports promote greater interest in education and help in provinding all-round development.
At present we have 15 study centres where great attention is paid on several different aspects of education in order to facilitate a better quality of education. Some of these key factors, which contribute to the quality of education provided in our centres are:
Children in Akansha Child Study Centre
Annual Get-Together of Study-Centre Children
Children in Sarenga Child Study Centre
The health needs of the communities have always been a focus of the Community Development Programme. There are very few or no health facilities in these areas. Furthermore, the residents of the villages and the urban slums were unaware of maintaining proper health, hygiene and environmental cleanliness, which resulted in various diseases and illnesses.
Through our health-awareness programmes, such as children's quarterly health check-ups, eye-screening camps along with cataract surgeries, mother-and-child-care awareness, construction of hand pumps, and acting as a link with Government health facilities like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), we have been able to create a huge difference in the lives of our target communities.
Some of our initiatives to promote better health include:
Our efforts have led us to witness a massive transformation in the health of the residents of the urban slums ands to c the vilalges. They are now more aware of the need to keep themselves and their environment clean. They have also undertaken efforts to ensure that their surroundings are clean and no one deposits their garbage outisde the government-provided garbage collection bins. We have also witnessed that children now wear cleaner clothes and wash their hands whihc is a vast mprovement from when we first started our porjects in these areas.
Mother and Child Health Campaign
Hygiene Awareness Camp in Sarenga
Seasonal Disease Awareness Camp
One of the major needs we had identified at the start of our project, in order to pormote true development, was Social Empowerment. Our target communities were victims of a vicious cycle of poverty that kept them oppressed and dependent on ruthless money-lenders to whom they were indebted for life. Early on we realised that in order to promote any kind of growth we would first need to address the issue of economic and social empowerment; only then could we progress towards our goal of creating self-sustained communities of growth.
Self-empowerment has allowed these communities to invest towards their secure future without having to worry about providing food for the family on a daily basis. Formation of Self Help Groups have given the generally quiet women, who were often relegated to the kitchen, a voice and an economic independence. Today, they not only contribute to their family's income, but also speak-up for what they believe is right. These erstwhile timid women have learned how to own and operate their own bank accounts and handle large sums of money in order to generate a revenue through the creation of small businesses.
Training the men in modern scientific methods of agriculture, along with provision of seed banks and access to information about the schemes provided by the government for their benefit have provided these generally illiterate individuals with an way to escape the clutches of greedy money-lenders. Self-empowerment of women have led the men to understand and appreciate the concept of gender-equality; which in turn has affected their decisions about child-marriage of daughters, or female infanticide and foeticide. The individuals in our target communities have learned their self-worth and have learned to value themselves which is an essential step towards sustainable development.
Some of our initiatives to promote greater self-empowerment include:
Installation of irrigation pump has helped the farmers with their cultivation
Training on Hand Pump Repair has provided the youth with alternative job options