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KASTURBA TRUST:  PROGRAMMES AND PURSUIT

 

A BEACON OF HOPE:

Heeding Gandhiji's call the Sevikas (Woman Activists) of Kasturba Trust have left the comforts of their homes to work in far villages among the people of distant hills and forests. Armed with little training but a great deal of determination and courage. They have earned respect through working selflessly for building a new Society.  Each and every year has been a great step forward in this very tradition, which has kept the flame of hopes alight in the life of millions of rural folk.  This has been a bright chapter of commitment at grass root level and which forms the future prospect for great deeds.  Let us review these activities.

 

TOWARDS WOMEN'S AWARENESS

            The Kasturba Trust has attempted through awareness building groups, to inculcate spirit of self-reliance and self-confidence among women.  The activities of Trust have significantly contributed to developing a sense of self-respect among women and have empowered them to lead to healthy and happy life.  In this attempt attention is paid to problems of each and every state, especially to common village warrior widows, down trodden and helpless women who have been suppressed and have lost their self-respect.  These attempts have brought about remarkable change into the life of these neglected women and have attained a great degree of self-respect and human values towards the society.

 

HEALTH SERVICES

            Kasturba Trust had the major activity of helping and serving rural mass, mainly in the field of health and welfare of rural women and children's working in a variety of difficult terrains all over the country from dense forests of Assam to the snow clad Himalayan Himachal Pradesh.  Working with scanty resources and in difficult circumstances, the Trust Sevikas have nevertheless made valuable contribution to the health of women and children of these areas.

            It has been commonly experienced that in many places people prefer to go to the Trusts Centres and hospitals rather than that to local Government Hospitals.  Sevikas of the Trust constantly endeavour to provide the best possible health services at lowest possible cost to reach to the last citizen of the country.

 

LEPROSY ERADICATION

            Gandhiji had given many constructive social programmes to the Trust and leprosy Eradication was one of the prime tasks. To fulfil this objective the Kasturba Kushta Nivaran Nilayam was established in 1946 at Malvanthangal in Tamilnadu. At that time the incidence of leprosy in Tamilnadu was 48 leprosy patients per 1000.  As a result of Nilayam's work this figure has come down to 01 per 1000.  This achievement has brought new hope and joy to the thousands far and near.

 

WOMEN HEALTH WORKERS TRAINING PROGRAMME (NURSES TRAINING):

            This important training has been going on since 1952.  Women in the age group of 18 to 28 years with 10th or 12th school certificate are admitted here for two years training. After successful completion of the training programmes, trainees are employed by the Trust and sent to various branches but today the demand for trained nurses is so much that they get good jobs very soon in other government & private hospitals too.

 

SERVICES IN BORDER AREAS

            Right from its inception, the Trust has been working among rural women and children of the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The Sevikas in these areas have worked with courage and determination, often risking their lives and have made major contribution to the social transformation of those areas.

 

 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES

In Kasturbagram, there is an arrangement for education from Balwadi (kindergarten) to post graduate classes 'M.A.' Girls from tribal and rural areas are given admission in school & college. All students are resident.

·                 Crèches and Balwadis (Kindergartens)

       Kasturba Trust is running Crèches in many states where an attempt is made to provide children with nutritious diets and sound education in healthy environment.  Children of farmwomen, labourers and working mothers are kept in Crèches.  Later the children join Balwadis where their personality development continues. While Crèches are body building places for them.  In Balwadis they are groomed into impressive personalities.

·                 Middle schools

       The Trust runs six middle schools for rural girls.  These schools are playing important role in creating personality development because of their specialized programmes.  Specially in those areas where parents do not allow adolescent girls to go to co-education schools but girls want to continue their education.

·                 Higher secondary schools

       Kasturba Trust has established four higher secondary schools where rural and tribal girls are getting higher education for decades. Thus on one hand these girls are getting higher education at their doorsteps, on the other they are freed from the clutches of child marriage. They are also exposed to the fields of higher education.

·                 Girls' college

       Young girls from rural and tribal areas should get such higher education befitting to meet their basic rural needs. The Trust is running a girls' college, where the girls from rural and tribal background are given college education for their basic needs. This residential college is affiliated to Devi Ahilya University, Indore and acclaimed as an autonomous college. Here, girls are given education in Arts, Home Science and Rural Extension faculties as a compulsory subject. The graduate girls from this college go to the rural and tribal areas to work as rural social activists.

·                 Girl's Hostels

       To give an opportunity of formal education for girls upto the higher classes it is important to run hostels for them otherwise parents do not send their girls to such schools for getting education.  To facilitate girls to stay at places away from their homes, the Trust is operating girl's hostels wherever possible.

 

BA- KA-GHAR (THE MOTHER'S HOME)

       With assistance from Central Social Welfare Board this project is being run by the Trust. In this department destitute, suffering and women in danger are admitted and trained in various types of vocations to achieve self-reliance or to re-establish them in their families for peaceful future.

 

WOMEN HELP LINE

       In February 2003 a new programme has started to help distressed women who want rescue.  For this a toll free telephone i.e. 10921 has been provided which women to seek help in their hour of need can use.

 

PEACE STUDIES CENTRES

       In October 2003 a centre for peace studies was started to train the young women with intellectual wisdom practical understanding and skills to establish peace in the society among the different faiths, communities, castes, classes and genders. Similarly, to cultivate a cutting of non-violence, another school of peace was launched in October 2004 at the head quarter of the Trust for the young women of all the states of the country.

TRAINING RURAL SOCIAL WORKERS AT SEVIKA VIDYALAYA (WOMEN WORKERS TRAINING CENTRE)

            The main objective of Sevika Vidyalaya is training of women social workers to work among rural women and children. Under this, women are trained for village and community development. Health workers also undertake a basic orientation course on Gandhian thoughts, objective of Kasturba Trust, working pattern and Gandhian concept of rural development and Gram Swarajya (Village republics).

          OLD AGE RESORTS

Some of Trust's branches are operating old Age resorts for women from self generated funds.

INCOME GENERATING PROGRAMMEStc "Income Generating  Programmes"

        Kasturba Trust was formed to strengthen India's rural self-reliant economy and here prime importance is given to agriculture, Cow farming and Khadi (hand spun and hand woven cloths).  The main objectives of these programmes is to promote self reliance among rural people, following programmes are being taken up by the Trust all over the country:

·                 Agriculture

        Most of the provincial branches and their centres have agricultural land on which food grains, vegetables and fruits etc. are grown. Nurseries for growing and sale of saplings have been established.  Coconut is cultivated on large scale by coastal branch.  At Kasturbagram, Indore farming is undertaken on large scale. Improved seeds of various crops are produced and sold to the local farmers.  Horticulture is also undertaken here and there is usually a flood of seasonal fruits.

·                 Dairy

       Goshalas (Cow farms) were established at different centres right from the inception of the Trust.  Here priority has been given to indigenous breeds of cattle. Milk yields are high. After distribution of milk to children at Trusts Ashrams, the remaining milk is being sold. Kasturbagram, Indore dairy has cows of famous Gir breed of Gujarat. This is a model centre for visitors.

·                 Khadi : A cloth and a principle

       Hand spinning is a Gandhian ethic and is undertaken as a value of self-reliant life style in most branches of the Trust.  Every Centre of Assam branch is engaged in hand spinning and hand-weaving. Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Kasturbagram, Indore are also playing a steady role for this. 

Tailoring (drafting, cutting and stitching of various garments) is also being taught to the women in Bihar, Punjab, Niwali (Madhya Pradesh), Kerala, Tamilnadu, Assam, Orissa and Kasturbagram.  In Rajasthan, Bihar, Kerala punjab, Haryana, Niwali and Delhi stitching is taught to women.  School Uniforms are stitched in Niwali and Kasturbagram, Indore, which generates income to the needy women.

·                 Various cottage Industries

       Bee Keeping, sweets and condiments like Sattu, Chiwada, Badi and Papad, Fruit preservation, Pickles, Jam and jelly making etc. are carried out at various branch centres and brought for selling.

 

 THE PEACE RESTORING ACTIVITIES

            Assam branch of Trust is pioneer in peace work among all the 22 state branches, which is active for restoring peace in Assam since more than 10 years continuously (More detail mentioned in the chapter "Special achievements of the Trust"). Bihar is another branch organising peace camps, rallies, meeting and running a school of peace training camps and inspired the women to work as peace volunteer in their villages or towns. The peace-training centre at the head quarter of the Trust is to provide thought fully well skilled volunteers to all the state branches. Trust needs ideas, helping hands and financial aid for this important work to continue and spread it widely.