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					           The REEDS
The Rural Environmental Enterprises
       Development Society


           Progress with Sustainability


             ANNUAL REPORT
                          [2006-2007]




The REEDS HQ: # 1116, First Floor, Sector 33C, Chandigarh- 160 020
             Phone: 0172-2605678; 0172- 4631116
                 E-mail: reedsindia@gmail.com
                  The REEDS Annual Report
                                [2006-2007]

We present with immense satisfaction and pride the 9th Annual Report of our
organization, “The Rural Environmental enterprises Development Society”
popularly known as The REEDS in all our areas of operations in the States
of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh U.T. Since its inception out organization
has committed itself in working towards fostering a better understanding of
the social issues that influence mankind and behavior in the fields of basic
health, education, economic empowerment, skill up-gradation and human
resource development through interventions for women, children and the
marginalized populations.

The REEDS‟ ranks have grown steadily from strength to strength with like
minded and dedicated members and workers. The focus of the activities
taken up by the organization continues to be women, children, youth and
their upliftment through capacity building and development of the skill set.

The activities taken up by the organsation are listed chronologically.

Progress with sustainability has been the motto of The REEDS commitment
to Community service. We at the REEDS have always endeavoured to go
the extra mile to help community members attain its goals. In the fields of
socio-economic empowerment, education, social welfare and skill
upgradation of youth – all these areas have had the attention of the REEDS
with the help of government support through various projects and activities.

We deeply acknowledge the patronage of the States of Haryana and Punjab
for giving the necessary encouragement through sanctions and grants for a
number of activities, the benefits of which could be directly accrued to the
people.

The REEDS has never professed that it has a large infrastructure or a huge
manpower resource. The ideology has always been to live off the land, go
down to the grassroots and work on the premises of the community as per
their time schedules and comfort levels.

Networking with other organizations:- Another facilitating factor tapped
by the REEDS was networking with other NGOs/ CBOs in the field. Strong
networking ties and the ability to share the limelight as well as resources has
been a strong point with the REEDS. NGOs closely associated with the
REEDS are RDA, The Nabha Foundation, EPOS, Progressive Youth Forum,
Unnat Bharat Vikas, Lawyer‟s Collective and a number of CBOs. Over the
past months the REEDS has emerged as an organization growing in strength
and experience as well as goodwill.

Internship Programme:- The management of The REEDS has never paid
too much heed to physical growth of the organization barring the odd asset
here and there like a computer, or a new printer etc. We have been enriched
no doubt by a wide variety of national and international experiences in the
form of interns who joined the REEDS for durations as less as 3 months to
almost a year. These interns were a fructification of our tie-ups with
organization like AISEC. The interns came from Canada, Melbourne,
Columbia, North Carolina, Germany, Quebec, London, Utretch, Denmark,
Shanghai, Beijing and France. They all come with certain ideas about India
and leave with a deep-seated love and regard for its people, their lifestyle
and values. Their blogs and reports are a reflection of the enriching
experience they have had during their sojourn with The REEDS.

Forests and Community:- This past year has seen the REEDS
concentrating on the community participation in development activities. To
be enabled to do so the REEDS tapped the Forest Department‟s (Haryana)
HCFP or the Haryana Community Forestry Programme funded by the
European Union.

This project entailed working with the poorest of poor living on the foothills
of the Shivaliks in Haryana. There were muslim majority villages like
Nayagaon, and Nanheri where the position of the women was most
deplorable. No literacy, early marriage, no family planning, abject poverty
and a strict code of conduct which dictated that women remain confined to
their homes and not participate to any great extent in the day to day activities
of the village.

Thus, working in such a restrictive area was a daunting task. A support
building exercise was taken up initially to promote the various activities like
formation of self-help groups, organizing skill building initiatives and
trainings for income generation activities and then exposure to various
processes like book-keeping, packaging of products, quality maintenance
and salesmanship.
It was the efforts of the REEDS team and sustained handholding by the
Forest Department functionaries, especially the top level officers like Mr.
Dhar (PCCF), Mr. Goran Josef, the European Union Consultant, Mrs.
Amarinder Kaur, the CCF and the many DFOs and other personnel that
worked hand in hand with us and brought fruits of empowerment to these
landless, poor women of Yamunanagr and Kurukshetra districts.

The evaluation by the European Union brought out the fact that trends of
change had set in and the women of conservative backgrounds were also
willing to come forth to set up an atta chakki, run a cooking set up for
providing meals to the village and nearby anganwaris, undertake a lac work
bangles workshop (for which Mr. Mohd. Siddique of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan)
which was arranged under an action research component gradually the levels
of confidence of these women increased and they were able to participate
more fully in the decision-making process in the village. Even the men folk
acknowledged and encouraged their women to participate with enthusiasm.

In villages like Shahzadwala, Darpur, Malikpur Bangar, Rampur Hardian,
Bhagwanpur and Thaska the women formed themselves into a cluster and
were taking on employment generation job work to benefit all the members.
The women here are skilled and were most delighted to use their talents for
the betterment of this lot.

Steadily orders began coming in for Phulkari work and other stitch craft.
These women gained confidence through economic empowerment. They
began approaching the bank and district level authorities for amelioration of
their problems as also for seeking opportunities for themselves and their men
folk.

Social Welfare Activities :- The REEDS took up every opportunity to work
among the handicapped children, under privileged members of society like
the poor and landless, the aged, those riddled with problems like drug
addition or even those who could not avail themselves of the opportunity of
education- like the slum children, migrant labour and school drop out etc.

In collaboration with the Nabha Foundation a programme for addressing the
youth in government and government aided schools was taken up. Under
this programme experts took on the issues of adolescent health and career
counseling for which students of 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th classes took park.
The situation in the school was very bad because of increasing indiscipline
as also boisterousness and unashamed attitude towards teachers. A series of
workshops dealing with both issues was funded by the Nabha Foundation
and experts were provided by the REEDS. About 30 High Schools were
covered in Nabha tehsil by expert Dr. R. Lamba, Anthropologist and Ms.
Jyotsnamayee Sahu, Sociology.

National Rural Health Mission:- The REEDS under the wings of EPOS
through funding by the Haryana government took on the task of conducting
orientation and training of health care delivery personnel in Kurukshetra
districts all 5 blocks and 415 villages. Five teams of block coordinators and
field investigators / facilitators were made to conduct the intensive data
collection.

Although the REEDS team was called in a month after the project had been
launched in Haryana, it made rapid strides in collecting the required data.

The teams were well-coordinated and the village level plans upwards, the
block plans and the district plans became a mission towards planning for the
health of the people. The Kurukshetra Plan was the first to be completed and
submitted. It was close to the requirements of the people and retained the
original ideas of the community from the village up. The needs of the health
care delivery personnel were also encapsulated in the plans especially those
relating to transport, communication, availability of essential drugs and
manpower as also availability of ambulance services in remote areas.

Because of the work done by the REEDS in one district of Haryana they
were commended highly for work in other districts and States. Overall it was
an enriching and educational experience for the entire REEDS team from the
Chairman to the least fields assistant. The entire management of planning,
logistics, transportation etc., was carried out meticulously and the utmost
precision to deliver the plans well in time.

Needless to say the project was all the more successful because of the total
cooperation of all departments involved like Health, Education, Sanitation
and Public Health at the block and district level.

Preservation of Languishing Cultural and Art Forms:- A chance visit to
the Cottage Emporium in Delhi brought to light the fact that the „hathidant‟
work or inlay work on wood being done by artisans, in Hoshiarpur, has great
value. A coffee table carrying a price tag of Rs. 4.47 lac was most amazing
because those who fashioned the table were only being paid daily wages. It
was found that the artisans are usually in an exploitative relationship with
the shopkeeper.

The REEDS team studied the needs of the artisans of this particular art form
and found that both art forms, that of plastic inlay in wood and lacquer work
over wood, were on their way out. So much so that despite there being
several national award winners and State award winners in the group there
was a struggle for existence and most of the artisans lived in total poverty.
Many were buried under debt and most had begun supplementing their
income through daily wages as ordinary labour. A few had sent their
children abroad to Dubai, Australia and Europe to work as ordinary
carpenters. There were also many who had sold their tools and taken up
alternative income generating activities like vending vegetables or snacks
like chana Kulcha. Some had opened up tea stalls.

This state of officials was most distressing and the REEDS team took up the
challenge of helping these art forms revive and thrive.

A detailed survey was undertaken to determines the status of the artisans and
their families. The findings of this survey were then placed before the
Director KVIC, Punjab. There was an encouraging response from him and
the project was taken up under the KVIC-SFURTI Programme.

To qualify for the programme the REEDS team had to prepare well and even
have their Chief functionary trained at the Technical Agency NIESBUD
located in NOIDA. It was only after this that the KVIC sanctioned the
programme.

Active work was taken up under this programme through carrying intensive
programme to access the activities a contact programme, conducting a
diagnostic study as also forming the artisans into Self Help Groups. Even
then families were encouraged to do so because the women folk wanted to
share the economic burden of running their homes.

All artisans aspired for better lives but were unaware even of the basic
schemes launched by the GOI for ameliorating their lot. Once the support
under the KVIC-SFURTI umbrella was assured the wooden handicrafts
cluster of the REEDS became a living entity with all efforts being put in to
resurrect their dying art forms.

Capacity Building Initiatives:- The REEDS has always advocated the need
for improvising the skills set to improve livelihood chances and standards of
living. The focus of all capacity building and skill upgradation endeavours
have always been youth and women – especially in the rural areas or the
urban or the slums. The trainings have ranged from utilization of waste to
fabricating jewellary, embroidery, stitchcrafts, growing organic food grains,
making vermicompost and also driving cars.

The last was an experimental pilot project with a Singapore based taxi
company Herts which had its Indian (Chandigarh) franchisee Easycabs. The
REEDS took on the training of four batches of 20 chauffers each who were
given the basic of etiquette, personnel grooming, road safety and road rules.
The programme had Resource Persons from the Chandigarh Police
Department, the Naval and the Armed forces as well as the Chandigarh
Traffic Department besides in-house faculty of the REEDS.

The training programmes were unique in their own way as they followed
certain cardinal principles. These were:-
   1. Take the training to the community.
   2. Let the trainees determine their comfort level as regards timing of the
       training, duration of the schedule.
   3. Positioning of the lectures, focus on trainees needs through periodic,
       in training appraisals.
   4. Conducting training needs assessment through pre and post appraisals.
   5. Having guest faculty sit in during in house lectures to enhance quality
       and maintain efficacy of the training programme.
   6. Provide ample background/learning material to enable the trainees to
       have wholistic view of the training and the tasks ahead. (For example
       the cab drivers were given detailed maps of Panchkula, Chandigarh
       and Mohali to help them mark tricking locations and to acquaint
       themselves with the layout of the tricity along with significant
       landmarkers.
   7. Follow-up is another significant aspect of the training programmes
       whereby the trainees are contacted periodically and asked about their
       welfare, level of occupation and also if they were satisfied with what
       they had gained during the trainings and if they needed any undating /
      up gradation of their skills. For example the REDP conducted on
      Horticulture in Majri block of Ropar district.
   8. Constant updating of training material is an ongoing exercise at the
      REEDS. As the team is constantly in touch with the people. This
      enables them to interact with the youth and women and determine
      their skill building needs and then determine ways of satisfying these
      needs.

Micro credit and micro finance initiatives :- The REEDS team has been
working diligently among the community to help rural women free
themselves from the penury of debt, poverty and lack of means for attaining
their standard of living.

Trained by NABARD at the Chimmaya Tapovan, Kangra, members of the
REEDS team saw this as the best vehicle for the socio-economic
empowerment of the rural women of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh.

The mission of the REEDS is to form good quality SHGs that will last long
and are comprised of homogeneous groups having common thinking and
unified purpose.

Thus, this initiative of making SHGs was taken up and the REEDS formed,
nurtured and sustained 25 SHGs (in collaboration with NABARD) in Majri
block of Ropar district. We have also formed another 25 SHGs and a cluster
in collaboration with the Haryana Community Forestry Programme of the
Haryana Forestry Department in collaboration with the European Union.
These 25 SHGs are located in the Yamuanangar and Kurukshetra district of
Hryana.

Under the KVIC-SFURTI programme also the REEDS took up the task of
forming the artisans and their families in SHGs. There are 11 SHGs formed
in Hoshiarpur.

The work of farming SHGs has also been carried out in Chandigarh U.T.
among migrant workers who live in slums of the city like Burail, Mauli
Jagran. Maloya and Plasora. Ten SHGs have been formed here as well. It
was found, however, that sustaining SHGs among migrant groups was quite
a challenge. It was also found that these groups were stronger on inter-
loaning. This was basically because the day to day needs of the slum were
small yet many requiring small inputs. Thus, the need for petty finance could
be easily solved through the SHGs savings.

Conclusion:- The journey goes on the REEDS gathers experiences,
knowledge, local wisdom and cultural inputs while sharing them
simultaneously in other communities. Committed to development with
sustainability, the REEDS reiterates its pledge to continue its work in the
coming years.

Ending on the motto given by Guru Gobind Singhji, the 10 th Guru,
“Nishchae Kar Apni Jeet Karoun”.

[“Determine your path and attain victory” (Transliteration)] I close with
onwards always making for greater service to humanity.




                                                   Col. OP Lamba [Retd]
                                                   Director Projects
                                                   The REEDS

				
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