Categories: Newsletters Date: 6 March 2012 Title: Deep Griha Spring NewsletterDear Friends of Deep Griha Society,
Dear Friends of Deep Griha Society,
We have had an extremely busy few months, wrapping up our 2011 activities and welcoming 2012. We have selected a sample from a large range of recent highlights to share in this newsletter.
Aadhar Kendra Child Sponsorship Programme
Childcare and Women's Empowerment
On 16 January the traditional Makar Sankranti Festival was celebrated across all of the Deep Griha sites. Women (both DGS beneficiaries and staff) gave each other sweets as an encouragement to forget any bad feelings of revenge or grudges, and to start the New Year with nice thoughts. The traditional sweets shared are known as tilguds and laddus; laddus contain jaggery, which is made from sugar cane and is a way of giving the body energy during winter. Whilst exchanging sweets as tokens of goodwill, women greet each other saying ‘til-gul ghya, god god bola’ meaning ‘accept these tilguls and speak sweet words’.
On 31 January a number of Deep Griha staff were trained as facilitators to support the local community on the issue of disability. These training sessions were run by a local Pune based NGO, Ekansh, and focused on the prevention and detection of disabilities, together with the early steps that should be taken once any disabilities are detected.
Other support for local women has included sessions on how to control anger, and how to control depression. Also, 75 women attended a domestic violence programme, and 63 women from the local community attended a self-help group training session on microfinance. Microfinance helps local women to manage their yearly household budget, allowing them to be prepared for hospital costs, their children’s education, festivals and weddings. We also made time for some recreational activities; a picnic for 20 local women took place at the Baneshwar Temple historical site, two and a half hours outside Pune.
Deep Griha Academy
The primary school went to Peshwe Park for their picnic on 4 February. Peshwe Park recently introduced adventure sports for children! Team leader Ashlesha Onawale said: “The Park provided helmets at the entrance, which worried the teachers slightly as to what was in store! There were suspended balancing beams, and a lot of complicated climbing frames, which tested the children's balance, strength and determination. They loved it!” After Peshwe Park the children went to Saras Baug (another park, minus the adventure sports) and sat under a tree for lunch, sharing their tiffins, and enjoying a game of football.
DISHA and Wake Up Pune
DISHA celebrated International Day of Older Persons on 1 October with an event at the Tadiwala Road centre’s Varsha Memorial Hall. 30 older people from the local community were invited to attend by the DISHA ladies and Sure Start team, so you can imagine our surprise when an unprecedented 110 people arrived, 50 women and 60 men. In these communities, older people are often treated very badly, even by their own families, but at this event they were all given a rose and a handkerchief and enjoyed snacks and tea. Also at the beginning of the event team leader Avinash Chakranarayan offered to wash the attendees’ feet. Many of the attendees started to cry in shock at being offered such a ritual. Avinash said: “The event was very emotional, and clearly meant a great deal to all who came. Reaching older people is very important for DISHA. HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. The virus impacts entire families, so older people need to receive information about HIV/AIDS. They also need to understand the negative impact of the current stigma that surrounds the disease.”
Yuva Sphurti Kendra IT School
In December, 25 students completed our three-month course covering basic computer skills and spoken English. These courses are run in collaboration with the Mahindra Satyam Foundation, who also donated 25 used computers, which was a significant boost to our facilities. This January a further 21 students started the course and are currently working towards receiving their qualification.
We are always keen to boost our corporate partnerships. If you know of a company that may be interested in supporting our work please direct them to the Corporate Involvement page of our website.
Medical activities, Sure Start and Eye camps
The MOMs (Monitoring of Maternal and Newborn Health Services) committees which form part of the Sure Start programme have been strengthened with further training. These committees are led by women in the community and are responsible for monitoring maternal and neonatal health among mothers and babies. The participants have been trained in a range of subjects including holistic health, financial literacy, and communications skills. This Sure Start initiative is supported by the international NGO PATH.
Finally, our mobile eye clinic saw 663 patients during visits to both urban and rural sites in the last quarter of 2011.
Our local and international volunteer programme is going strong. We recently said a reluctant goodbye to Jemma Clegg, who came to volunteer at DGS through the UK charity Development in Action. Jemma stayed with us for five months and did a fantastic job as our Volunteer Coordinator in addition to contributing to projects such as Wake Up Pune.
We also welcomed Charlie Nichols, our oldest ever volunteer at 80 years of age. Charlie came with a group of visitors and volunteers from the First Community Church in Ohio, USA, one of our most longstanding supporting organisations. Charlie has known DGS’ founder Dr Neela Onawale for 35 years. Finally making it to Pune, to visit Dr Onawale and volunteer at DGS was a dream come true for him. Whilst here Charlie helped document the stories of children on our Aadhar Kendra child sponsorship programme and inspired everyone at DGS with his energy and enthusiasm.
Anisha Shankar is currently working with us on an innovative project aimed at improving the nutrition of local children. Anisha has joined us through a fellowship with Design Impact, an NGO that partners professional designers with community organisations. Also two volunteers from Sangam (see above) are currently supporting our activities at our Ramtekadi centre, and we continue to be supported by a number of local volunteers from Pune. Thank you to everyone else who has volunteered with us over the last few months, and if you are interested in volunteering with DGS please have a look at our website and/or get in touch via email@example.com.
In other news...
We have been visited by the Calvin College of Nursing in Chicago, and by a group of management students from Mumbai.
In December all staff participated in a two-day ‘Open Space’ workshop aimed at ensuring effective internal communications within DGS. This very valuable session was run by Celia Bray, an international volunteer and trained organisational coach.
We also enjoyed a staff picnic at Murud-Janjira on the Maharashtra coast.
A few inspirational words to end with:
“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”Albert Einstein
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” Muhammad Ali
Thank you to all of the Friends across the world who continue to sustain our work.
We wish you all a wonderful Spring.
The Deep Griha Team
This newsletter has been compiled by international volunteer Nick Stewart with support from all of the team leaders and formatted by Susannah Hodge.