Aasra Gramin Vikas Sansthan A Non Profit Organization Established: January 12, 2002 Annual Report for 2003-2004 Aasra Gramin Vikas Sansthan is a non – profit organization formed for the integrated development of the villages of Rajasthan. It was founded in 2003 by Dr. (Mrs.) Anju Mathur, a Psychologist, who has worked with social organizations in the past. The president and patrons are either serving or retired officers of eminence. They have no political leanings and are interested in voluntary social work only. The Sansthan is registered under the Rajasthan Sanstha Registrikaran Adhiniyam 1958 with number 183/Ajmer/2002/03. It has received income tax exemption certificate from the I.T. department for donations made to it u/s 80 GG of I.T. Act. The main objective of the organization is to reach out to the villagers to provide them with an opportunity for development of their village and their self. There is a special emphasis on girl child and empowerment of women. With this objective in mind, the Sansthan has been able to start the following activities in the last one year: 1. We have started educational classes for the girls and women in the village of Hoshiara. 20 illiterate girls and women between the ages 14 to 30 years are attending evening classes for elementary education. These participants are unemployed and come from economically weak section of the society. Their primary occupation is grazing cattle and performing household chores. These women can now not only read and write but also utilize their literacy skills in daily chores and interpersonal networking. 2. The village of Hoshiara has some very small units where leather craftsmen are making leather sandals and chappals. Though, they have been making and selling leather products for a number of years and have been established in the small units for a while, they continue to live in poor conditions. Lack of good designs, supervision and marketing assistance contribute to the low monetary income of their profession and business. We held a number of discussions with these leather craftsmen explaining to them the importance of good design and marketing techniques. With this in mind, we drew up a comprehensive plan to help these craftsmen. The plan lays emphasis on giving exposure to these craftsmen to help them grow and develop their business. Our first step was to take them to larger and more professionally established leather units in the area where these craftsmen could identify skills, techniques and organizational methodologies where they needed to grow. A good example is the trip to the Surabhi Footwear factory in Kishangarh organized completely by us. Almost 10 craftsmen participated in the event. The craftsmen were given a very detail oriented tour of the factory with an emphasis on designs and marketing of the product. Today, the craftsmen have already begun to practice the techniques they picked up at the trip and are making designs in demand. Our members have met up with several bank managers and other financial institutions that will help these craftsmen with loans and aid to set up a commercially viable leather manufacturing unit. 3. In our survey, we found that the women in villages were particularly skilled in hand embroidery but were not proficient and organized enough to produce garments of national or international standard. Again, these women have no income generating practice and mostly dependent on other family members. We collected almost 20 women having basic embroidery skills who were very interested in pursuing the skill further. Keeping in mind the vision of our organization, we wanted to draw up a plan that would not only help these women fine tune their designing and embroidery skills but also help them with selling the products they produce to get economic benefits. To begin with, we found a master craftsman willing to train these women to produce fine hand embroidery. Our esteemed member, Mr. Raju Gupta agreed to take the responsibility of paying a salary of Rupees 4000 per month to the craftsman. Rest of the expenditure that includes buying raw material and accessories was paid with donations and aid received from the members of Aasra. A training center was setup in the village of Gagwana. Shahadat Khan has very kindly provided part of his house to run the center free of cost. This training center was inaugurated by Commissioner of Income Tax, Ajmer, Mr. Kothari in August 2003. The women are still being trained and are becoming proficient in this craft each day. Currently, the trainees are practicing hand embroidery on sarees provided to them by our organization. These sarees will be made commercially available so that the women can begin to reap economic benefits and thus earn money for the hard work they are putting in while continuing to learn the skill. 4. Seeing the success of the training center established in the village of Gagwana, we decided to set up a similar training center in the village of Gegal. Today, approximately 20 women with similar background like the women in Gagwana are learning fine hand embroidery of national and international standard. The financial and administrative duties of the training center are handled in exactly the same way as the establishment in Gagwana. The same master trainer has been given the responsibility of supervising the training to maintain a level of consistency in training standards. A special note of thanks to Mr. Kothari, Commissioner of Income Tax, Ajmer who has very kindly helped our organization at every step of the way. It would be injustice to not thank the hard working members of Aasra who have selflessly committed their time for this organization and remain dedicated to the activities of our organization. A special note of thanks to all non members who helped the organization with administrative and organizational activities through the year and remain committed to the organization. The last one year has been a starter for all of us and has given us immense experience and knowledge about the numerous problems that face our villagers. The problems may be big but our determination and confidence is high. We will continue to reach out to villagers in every way we can and we will continue to call on people to volunteer their time and energy for our programs. The pleasure in helping these villagers not only grows with our satisfaction of helping the community around us but multiplies with the happiness that we see on the face of each villager whom we help.
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