Monali Subhash Shinde (pictured far-right) has just recently graduated from Batch 16 of the Yuvi Sphurti Kendra IT School at the Deep Griha Family Welfare Centre. She attended the 3-month course from 1st July 2010 until 1st October 2010 and passed with an outstanding A Grade!
Monali heard about the IT School at Deep Griha through her Aunt Rajashri, who was enrolled in Batch 3 of the course. With an ambition to work in the hospitality sector and with basic computer skills and grasp of the English language, 17 year old Monali applied for a place at the IT School.
Nizam joined the staff at Deep Griha Society the age of 22 years old as an assistant to Pranil, the team leader for Aahar Kendra. He spent his time working on a programme that was close to his heart as he had received help from the programme for many years as a sponsor child.
Although he has now left this post after over 1 year with us, he gained a lot of experience during his time at DGS.
Sachin entered the Aadhar Kendra Sponsorship Programme at the Tadiwala Road slum in 2007. He studies in the 3rd standard at Zilla Parishad Primary School, his favourite subject in school is art and he enjoys drawing and playing marbles. He is in good health.
His family belongs to the Hindu community. Sachin's grandmother is the only earning member in the family. She looks after Sachin’s ill mother and brother who is 13. Considering his family's situation, (with the permission of his family) Sachin stays at City of Child, Kasurdi.
Khudeja is 16 years and has been a member at the DIYA centre since it opened. Her parents are not in favour of sending her to study in college. She often drops in at the youth centre to participate in games and awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS and other programmes.
She also attends the sewing classes conducted at the centre. She would like to attend college and study fashion designing. She enjoys reading in her free time especially religious books.
Abhishek, age 5 is a part of the Deep Griha crèche for the past one year. Soon after Abhishek, his younger brother Pradeep was also enrolled in the crèche .
Their mother is the only earning member in the family. She works as a maid servant. She found out about the crèche facility at Deep Griha from her neighbours. She sends both her children to Deep Griha Society's crèche because “Once I drop my children here, I can go to work without any worries. I’m the only earning person in the family so my income is little which makes it really difficult to provide two meals a day for my children. Here they get one meal a day and basic medication in case they fall ill".
Prashant is currently enrolled in the 11th standard. He comes to the DIYA Centre on most days to meet up with his friends. He appreciates the opportunity to participate in group activities, such as games with foreign visitors and the film club on Saturdays.
Prashant also enjoys the table tennis and chess, but his favorite component of DIYA is the computer class. In the future, he hopes to obtain a job in hotel management.
Sharad has completed his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC- 12th Standard). Prior to the opening of DIYA in July 2008, Sharad participated in youth-related activities at the Deep Griha Society Ramtekadi Centre for three years.
During this time period Sharad completed the 8th, 9th, and 10th standard. Sharad has been a member of DIYA since its inception. Sharad utilizes the DIYA centre for the computer and English courses. He is an avid reader and frequently uses the library, usually reading one book per day. Sharad says that the DIYA library has a lot of good novels! Sharad’s favorite thing about DIYA is that it is working for the poor people. He is glad that DIYA is here because without DIYA there would be no place to participate in the type of activities in which he is interested.
Virendra has been studying with YUVA Sphurti Computer school for just over a month (for a two month long course). Virendra said that before he came to the classes he only had a basic knowledge of computers, being able to turn them on and off.
The course has enabled him to learn more in depth in a way he wouldn’t have been able to without the clear teaching of the trainers here. He says he’s very happy with the course because students get individual attention so he now has a good knowledge of computers and hopes to continue his education by taking further courses.
Rani Kamble is twelve years old and has been a part of the Aadhar Kendra scheme for 5 years.
A fieldworker told Rani about Deep Griha when her father passed away. She had lots of problems at home because her mother couldn’t afford to support the family and there wasn’t enough food for them all. Now she is supported through AK scheme and Rani is provided with daily meals through the nutrition programme. She also receives new clothes and schoolbooks.
Abhishek Lonare, age 5 is a part of the Deep Griha creche for the past one year. Soon after Abhishek, his younger brother Pradeep was also enrolled in the creche.
Their mother is the only earning member in the family. She works as a maid servant. She found out about the crèche facility at Deep Griha from her neighbours. She sends both her children to the Deep Griha because “Mi majhya mulanna ikde sodun befikir houn kaama la jau shakte. Mi ghari ektich kamavnari aslyane, mala ya mulanna don veleche jevan hi dyala kathin hote. Ikde tyanna ek velche jevan va kahi ajar jhala tar aushad –pani kele jaate(Once I drop my kids here, I can go to work without any worries. I’m th only earning person in the family so my income is little which makes it really difficult to provide two meals a day for my children. Here they get one meal a day and basic medication in case they fall ill). She adds, “Mulanchi ikde chaan kalji ghetli jaate. Barech khel, gaani, goshti aani sarvat mahatvache - changlya savayi shikavlya jatat. (They look after my the kids very well. They teach them many games, songs, stories and most importantly good values)”
Looking at the helpers in creche, Abhishek has now learned to look after his younger brother affectionately. Both of them enforce the rules they follow in the crèches at home, such as wash hands before eating food
The main aim of the Disha Ladies is to raise awareness and educate people across all of Pune about HIV and AIDS. They do this in a number of ways including performing street play's, which at first was quite daunting for the ladies but they've now done so much street theatre and work within the community that it is no problem for them.
Most of the ladies came to know about the job through an advertisement that was placed on the community's board in the local area and initially even their families and friends were uncertain as to why the women were working in this area. Initially they said that it wasn’t good work for them, but in time they have come to recognise and understand the importance of what DISHA is doing and are now being 'calm and supportive'.
One of the ladies favourite aspects of the role so far has been a day spent in Mahabaleshwar, during this day the DISHA team received training, visited a hospital to observe and to learn skills in counseling, as well as team building with a picnic.
The most challenging aspect of their role to date has been working to create an ideal community in the area they work, at first they received opposition but over time they have come to receive a different and more open responses, mirroring the response they received from their own families. The women work very closely together and have had has some very challenging times like when their first beneficiary past away. They were initially frightened but with the support of each other, their family and the community they have learnt to handle the difficult ocassions.
Shantabai has been working with Deep Griha since 1990 in the crèches looking after the children and providing them with nutrition and hygiene.
Her husband was living in a village so it was necessary for Shantabai to receive an income which would pay for her children’s education and support her family. She chose childcare as she loves interacting with children.
Since beginning at Deep Griha she has carried out a variety of roles including work in the mobile crèche, helping in the kitchens and teaching in the non-formal education classes. The salary has increased over time and now she is able to provide good quality education for her children.
Working for Deep Griha, she feels she has gained a lot of knowledge and general experience of working in the crèche setting and understanding child psychology. The project is empowering for parents who are able to go out and work which provides crucial financial assistance to support the family while their children are taken care of in a safe and nurturing environment.
As well as teaching Chitra has been actively involved in fieldwork in the community which has given her a good understanding of the social situation, the financial problems and psychological issues within the areas Deep Griha works. Through meeting the individuals in the community she has been inspired to start writing short stories which she says gives her great satisfaction. It has been important for Chitra to keep furthering her education so she can share her skills with the children and her colleagues. Chitra has received awards for her work which has inspired her to continue learning, empowering her and empowering others.
She not only teaches at DGS, she also takes advantage of the opportunities to further her skills such as taking a basic computer course and continued teacher training. Sunanda says ‘all this experience has helped me enhance the way I think and teach.’ Over time she has gained a better understanding of the children’s needs and is able to react according to each individual’s situation. The dedication of the Deep Griha staff is as strong now as when she first started although they are constantly striving to improve and strengthen the work that the NGO carries out in the community, such as maintaining a good level of communication between the parents and teachers.
There is a lasting impact from this basic education, the students develop a keen interest and are motivated to further their studies. Many of the balwadi students are now studying in college. Sunanda has seen many of the students grow over the years and says ‘today, when they come back to us with their success stories I feel very proud.’
The cricket pitch has been invaluable for fostering good relations between the centre and the local community as regular tournaments are organised enabling positive integration through a pastime that is much celebrated in India. The impact of this will be long lasting and will make a significant impact to the experience of the residents of City of Child.
Satyam has set up a foundation that works to support and strengthen the vulnerable and underprivileged sections in urban areas. Hoping to transform the quality of life through technology and volunteerism.
Satyam Foundation has been working closely with Deep Griha since the end of 2006 when they got involved in the Deep Griha Integrated Service for HIV and AIDS (DISHA) programme. Along with Deep Griha they are one of the partners in the ‘Wake Up Pune’ campaign and have taken an active role in many of the WUP events such as a candlelight vigil to show solidarity for people living with HIV and The Global AIDS Action Week as well as providing HIV information at local Mall events.
Pune is fast developing into a cosmopolitan and fashionable city, with a large increase of jobs in the corporate sector. The individuals growing up in the slums are becoming further marginalized as the gap between rich and poor widens and they do not have access to the opportunities provided by these developments. Both Deep Griha and Satyam Foundation are working to bridge the divide and empower the marginalized so they too can take advantage of these job opportunities. One of the ways Satyam Foundation has made a considerable difference has been by setting up a vocational IT course at Deep Griha for people living in the slums, providing 35 computers and volunteers to facilitate the course. It is only through their generous giving of time and resources that over 150 students have graduated from the computer course, over 75% of these getting jobs in good firms.
In addition, as part of the ‘Wake Up Pune’ campaign Satyam Foundation has organised a workshop entitled 'Positive Living- Sharing Workshop' for the PLHIV (people Living with HIV) throughout Pune city. It included sessions on Role of Exercise and Role of Nutrition on Health, Role of Medication and Role of Mental Health, by eminent doctors and a session on the HIV Bill by experts in the field. 56 PLHIV participated in the workshop; there was positive feedback and requests for further workshops in the future.
The volunteers have expressed that this is a great opportunity for staff to educate themselves, interact with people from all walks of life and give back to their local community.
Avinash has been working with Deep Griha for the last 18 years. During that time he has worked on a number of programmes including teaching coaching classes, as a fieldworker at Ramtekadi, incharge of the Aadhar Kendra child sponsorship programme and teaching in school drop-out classes.
His work, passion and style were noticed and he was promoted to his current position as team leader of DISHA. Avinash says that ‘this is the most rewarding and the best phase of my life.’ He felt that he had been continually searching for what he what he wanted to do in life until he began work with DISHA and as a team leader he really feels that his work is appreciated. It is the interaction with clients and the counseling that he particularly enjoys which is enhanced now that he has completed his MA in Social Work.
There are challenges involved with this work and it is also Avinash’s responsibility to inform families when a client passes away. He has the complete support of his family although his youngest son didn’t like to see him wearing his ‘HIV positive’ t-shirt (part of the Wake Up Pune campaign), being embarrassed and worried about what his friends would think, but after Avinash explained that it was about positive education, awareness and support his son asked for his own t-shirt. Despite being such a stigmatised issue, the reaction from the community has been really positive, after awareness sessions people often approach Avinash with individual questions and many go on to get tested.
She used to be a domestic servant but once she was married she stopped work. At first her husband was unsure about the adult education classes because of her family responsibilities, but she can bring her daughters to DGS while she studies so is able to continue. Lalita got involved with the adult education classes because she would like to pay for her children’s education and would like to financially help her husband by getting a job when her children are more grown up. She says her socio-economic status has now changed, by joining the course she has learned how to budget and now understands money and it’s value a lot more. Lalita’s confidence and self-respect has increased and this has impacted on other areas in her life, she says she can travel more independently now and she can help her daughters with their education. Her husband is really proud of her and will often ask her to read things, which also aids her confidence. Lalita says the classes have enabled her to gain a broader education, she certainly will encourage her daughters to get an education and wants this to be their priority before marriage, as she feels this can be limiting for girls.
Mumtaz has been involved in the DGS Self Help Groups (SHG) for four years and takes part in the seminars. At first she participated in a singing programme and then she found out more about services DGS provides from the field workers.
In the SHG her sister is the chairperson and Mumtaz is the treasurer, so she is in charge of the banking and giving loans up to 60-70,000 rupees. Mumtaz has utilised the loan service herself, enabling her to fund her business of selling meat and making lunches for people from her home. She has three children and they also are involved in the businesses.
Sunita has been working as the receptionist for Deep Griha for 1 month now, after spending 12 years on the Aadhar Kendra scheme. She heard about the scheme through a family friend, who was a social worker with DGS.
Sunita appreciated the school materials that were provided as well as the counselling and extra educational support from the field workers. She says that thanks to the Aadhar Kendra scheme her life has changed; she comes from a poor family and is the only one who has received an education.
I was not alone, a team of seven of us flew from London to help as many people as possible with their vision. Five optometrists testing eyes, with myself and one other to fit easily over 80 pairs of glasses a day is a daunting, but amazing challenge. Add this to a very hot, dusty environment with a lot of people clamouring for your attention it was also exhausting! However having only been back 3 weeks I already want to go back!
I met some truly inspiring people who have worked very hard to achieve things that in the UK we perhaps take for granted. People living in awful conditions who still go to work everyday with a smile upon their face and actually caring about the person next to them.
As well as the people I was lucky enough to see a very small proportion of the country itself. Mumbai, although a very busy city has some very picturesque parts and some architecture that is beautiful. Pune itself is very crowded and has a lot of hustle and bustle, but also a lot of vibrancy about it. The villages around Pune not only offer some glorious views but the people in them could not be more hospitable.
On our very first trip into a village we had a lovely welcome ceremony to greet us. We were each given a coconut and flower garland, watching our team leader be adorned with a turban is an image that still makes me smile.
Each day we were taken to a different place, which means a different room and a different set up. Everyone is so helpful and eager to please though this just makes the whole trip more fun. That first day walking into a room full of boxes of spectacles and seeing all the people was frightening, but with help you soon know what’s
going on. Eventually you even start to learn some of the language!
I had an amazing time in Pune working with Deep Grihia, I made some fabulous friends and although it may have been hard work I also had a lot of fun. Having the opportunity to help others and enjoy it too is something I am pleased to say I plan to do again!
Many of the children are on the scheme because they are either orphaned or come from a single parent family, or fieldworkers will approach families where the parents are medically and financially unable to fulfil the needs of their children. Children joining the scheme are given a medical, an IQ test and counselling.
Pranil finds the most challenging aspects working with teenagers in the slums who face many problems with smoking and alcohol. The aim of the scheme is to provide a change of atmosphere for the children and through education to make them economically self-sufficient.
Pranil says that his work is improving day by day, this is a new line of work for him as his previous experience was in teaching. It is the coordination of the work at the three centres that Pranil finds the most rewarding and seeing everything come together to make a difference to young people’s lives.
In reflecting on her role as a counselor for people with tuberculosis and HIV, Lata emphasizes the importance of providing these individuals with psychological and emotional support. Both diseases commonly subject those infected to great stigmatization from the surrounding community – an occurrence that may very well be more painful than the symptoms of the illness itself. By talking with patients about situations in which they have felt stigmatized or afraid and providing ideas on how to address such situations in the future, Lata helps to give her patients much needed comfort and support.
Lata also educates her patients on the nature of their disease. In a city where there is still much ignorance regarding tuberculosis and HIV, Lata seeks to communicate to her patients that having one of these illnesses does not mean that they are at the end of their life. “People feel more empowered after learning about these things,” Lata says, and she hopes that those with whom she works can take the information and encouragement she gives them and make their lives better as a result.
As a registered medical lab technician, Sonal runs the facility, taking diagnostic and screening tests for approximately eight patients a day, referred to her by Deep Griha’s Dr. Onawale, other community doctors, and DIHSA (Deep Griha’s Integrated Service for HIV/AIDS). Among the many tests that Sonal runs are those for HIV, TB, blood group, haemogram, urine routine, kidney function tests, and liver function tests.
Sonal enjoys working in the laboratory, not only due to her interest in science and technology, but also because of her desire to help to provide health care to individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford it. She believes her work at Deep Griha is important for this reason, and she hopes to continue working in this capacity with the organization to promote comparable health care for people of all social and economic backgrounds.
Nitisha is looking forward to see how the vision of City of Knowledge develops, 'there is a huge space and it will be interesting to see how it transforms over the next 5 years'.