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Himachal Pradesh - Case Studies
 
Title Issue
A Healthier, Happier Life Healthcare
‘Know AIDS for No AIDS’ Healthcare
Mushrooming opportunities Capacity Building
The Dairy Story Women's Empowerment.
Turning around village schools Capacity Building
 
A Healthier, Happier Life

In Himachal Pradesh, 16 year old Poonam had been suffering from severe cough and fever for over a month. Her parents thought that the recent change in the weather was the cause of her sickness and kept giving her home made medicines, all to no avail.

Nisha Sharma, the VHF of the village got to know of Poonam’s ill-health and met with her mother in this regard. Sensing seriousness in the young girl’s condition, Nisha made a visit to her house. After examining Poonam, Nisha was sure that the girl was not suffering from a common cold. She suspected a case of tuberculosis and advised Poonam’s parents to take her to the district hospital for a thorough check-up. The doctor at the hospital confirmed Nisha’s fears; Poonam was infact suffering from TB. The doctor at the hospital started her on the necessary medication.

Had it not been for the VHF’s timely referral, Poonam may never have received correct treatment and may have suffered needlessly for much longer. Poonam’s parents are grateful for the VHF’s help. Poonam is fast recovering from her illness and has begun participating in normal day to day activities again.
 
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‘Know AIDS for No AIDS’

Creating awareness about HIV has always been of major importance to Ambuja Cement Ltd. What better place to start than its own workplace?

A programme regarding HIV/AIDS was instituted in July 2005 at Darlaghat, Himachal Pradesh. Facilitated by the ACF,
ACL pushed forward an idea - ‘Know AIDS for No AIDS’ - a message that only more awareness about AIDS can
help fight it.

One of the locals from Darlaghat, was given an intensive orientation to equip him to ‘train the trainers’. He then organized a 3-day workshop to train 18 ‘peer educators’. These people are now actively involved in creating awareness, at the workplace, about HIV/AIDS. Our master trainer is also involved in the Composite Targeted Intervention Project (CTIP), which spreads awareness about HIV/AIDS among truck drivers and migrant workers, one of the largest risk groups.

Youth, being especially vulnerable to HIV, can play a major role in curbing its spread. Our master trainer spends a substantial amount of time interacting with youth clubs in the area – the young boys and girls have developed a good rapport with him and trust him enough to discuss issues freely with him, rather than leaving them to fester.

Our master trainer’s family has involved themselves in the cause as well. His daughter has made a presentation, in her school, on HIV/AIDS, and has even won the first prize on a project on the subject.
 
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Mushrooming opportunities

Darlghat’s climate was just right for mushroom cultivation. Yet none of the villagers had ever thought of it as a livelihood option. Seeing potential in this venture, through dialogues with scientists from the National Mushroom Research Center at Solan ACF ascertained the feasibility of the project and began motivating people to give it a try and make it an alternate source of income. Most people were skeptical in the beginning and were not wiling to risk their money and time in a venture they weren’t sure was viable. But four persons came forward and took the plunge. With their first harvest profitable beyond imagination, they continued with mushroom cultivation. As the news of their success reached others, more people joined in and soon there were 40 of them. From their sale of 9 tonnes of mushroom, they collectively earned a net profit of Rs.4,50,000. Mushroom cultivation was obviously a profitable one and the number of cultivators continued to increase, reaching a total of 60.

The mushroom cultivators have organised themselves into the Darla Khumb Utpadak Samiti and working as a group now have better bargaining power in the market.

For the Samiti, this is just the beginning. There is so much more that the members want to achieve.
 
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The Dairy Story

In Himachal Pradesh, one story was inspired by the Amul Co-operative Society in Gujarat. The women from the SHGs in Himachal Pradesh have always wanted to be independent. They had the determination and the will to succeed, but without any direction they didn’t know what to get involved with.

Then ACF stepped in. A survey was conducted that showed that the nearby ACL establishment itself needed 700 liters of milk everyday. It also concluded that many customers were dissatisfied with the quality of milk supplied by the existing vendors. So a dairy set up was considered a good option. 12 women from the SHG were particularly excited about this.

It was Thursday, July 28th, 2005, when Parvati Mahila Dairy was launched and milk collection started. With just 17 liters on day one, the amount steadily increased, along with the membership of the dairy. In six months, there were 25 members collecting about 100 liters per day!

They were doing so well that they even hired a few delivery boys to deliver milk to peoples doorsteps. Apart from households, the milk is also distributed to the ACL guest house and canteen. The group now does a great job in maintaining the quality of milk, and another survey confirms that it now has satisfied customers with no complaints.
 
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Turning around village schools

It when 18 children left a local private school and enrolled themselves in Chhamla's government school, that everyone in the village stopped short and took notice. These children had always been studying in a private school and there seemed no reason for them to move to a government school. Yet that is exactly what they had done.

The Government schools in Darlaghat were in a tough spot. The dismal condition of the school and the lack of motivation on the part of the teachers was leaving a serious dent in the quality of education being provided there. Some children had even moved to private schools.

Since it was the quality of education that was either driving the children away or offering them sub-standard education, ACF decided to tackle this aspect on a war footing. Besides working with the teachers to improve and augment their skills, ACF also interacted with parents through Mother Teacher Associations (MTAs) and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), the Government, and the Village Education Committees (VECs). The children were everyone’s responsibility and everyone had to work jointly to improve the schools. ACF focused energies to encourage the members of village level associations to regularly organise meetings and take collective, constructive action. Simultaneously efforts were made to make learning joyful for the children. To assist children in learning, support centres run by balmitras village volunteers trained by ACF, were set up at schools.

The work of the balmitras was nothing short of magical. They used a pedagogy different from the school teachers. Not only did the children learn better and faster with their interactive methods , for the first time in their lives their pent up desire to question, experiment and learn was addressed. The teachers couldn’t stay far away from all the excitement and activity of the centres. They gradually began interacting with the balmitra and many ideas they picked up found expression in the classroom, transforming the teaching –learning experience. The co-curricular activities ACF introduced ensured the school was not only about pouring over books and children develop skills such as public speaking, drawing, physical training etc.

The dynamic changes within the school was witnessed by people outside. The parents could see for themselves that their children were actually learning. They were satisfied with the education being offered by the schools now. The PTAs and VECs became visibly active. The children wore broad smiles when they entered the school premises.

With everything going right with the schools, the parents of the children saw every reason to shift them to back to the Chhamla Government school. They knew the that the education being imparted there was of a good standard and it was easily affordable too. Then where was the reason to attend a private school?

School education in the village had indeed come a long way.
 
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