a) Integrated Child Development Program (Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa)
An integrated children’s welfare project, which aims at the physical, mental and spiritual development of children in 150 selected areas in India.
The disparity in wealth and welfare between the privileged and the underprivileged is the greatest hindrance to India’s all-round development. A vast number of children are from slums, roadsides, tribal belts, backward areas, and marginalized families. They are deprived of the basic necessities like food, medical care and education. The environment in which they lie comprises cramped one-room shanties, hutments or canvas sheds in unhygienic conditions. Most of these children are victims of malnutrition and various other diseases. With a view to facilitating the all-round development of these socially and economically deprived children, the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have taken up Integrated Child Development Program – ‘Gadadhar Abhyuday Prakalpa’ in the name of Gadadhar, the child Ramakrishna. A total of 174 units under this program have been started at different parts of our country. About 17,400 needy children, selected from the city, slums, and villages, were benefited during the year 2011–12. In some areas, the children were regularly brought from the roadside huts and highly unhygienic garbage-dumping spots. The response received from the general public in all these places has been overwhelming.
The basic objectives of this project are
1. to inculcate a sense of cleanliness and hygiene in the children;
2. to nourish the children for their physical development;
3. to educate the school deprived children with special coaching;
4. to instill moral and cultural values in them.
A good number of children are victims of malnutrition. They are being served with nutritious food on daily basis, and every month they are provided with toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, oil, etc. besides, study materials, school uniforms, school bags and footwear. The kids are taught the basics of hygiene as regards keeping the food & environment clean. They are also given training on healthy habits such as use of toilets, necessity of safe drinking water, brushing teeth, washing hands paring nails, etc. They are encouraged to take part in games and sports, to exercises regularly. Simple Yogasanas are also demonstrated to them for their regular practice.
Children are taught two different types of lessons depending on their backgrounds. The first lesson is for school goers and the other for non goers. The children are provided with text books, note books and other essential stationery. The children aged 6 to 10 years are taught the basics0 like alphabet, reading and writing, simple Mathematics like addition, subtraction, multiplication table, etc. When the students sufficiently advance in his basic lessons, he is promoted to the next higher stage. In the higher stage, they are regularly taught the importance of education and its value in one’s life. Value education is also imparted through stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and the lives of great personalities. Special training is also imparted to the children for getting admitted into high schools. For school-going children including the dropouts, coaching classes are conducted in the line of their school syllabus. The Children are also taught Self-help among themselves by encouraging the children of senior batch to take class for the juniors or for the dropouts as in the case shown in the picture.
Mental and Spiritual development:
During the program provision for exposure to music, painting, drama, dance, magic show etc is also being made. Apart from showing them films on value education, the seeds of awareness about their social responsibilities are also implanted in their minds. They are also encouraged in the practice of meditation and prayer under the guidance of competent teachers. This enables them get a taste of the Indian cultural and spiritual tradition. In the higher stage, they are regularly taught the importance of education and its value in one’s life. Value education is also imparted through stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and the lives of great personalities. Special training is also imparted to the children for getting admitted into high schools. For school-going children including the dropouts, coaching classes are conducted in the line of their school syllabus. The Children are also taught Self help among themselves by encouraging the children of senior batch to take class for the juniors or for the dropouts as in the case shown in the picture.
Mental and Spiritual development:
During the program provision for exposure to music, painting, drama, dance, magic show etc is also being made. Apart from showing them films on value education, the seeds of awareness about their social responsibilities are also implanted in their minds. They are also encouraged in the practice of meditation and prayer under the guidance of competent teachers. This enables them get a taste of the Indian cultural and spiritual tradition.
b) Rural Health Project for Children (Vivekananda Swasthya Parisheva Prakalpa)
A children’s health project which aims at remedying child malnutrition and providing preventive and curative medical care to children for 150 selected areas.
Some of the ground research in the remote rural areas of India shows that rural people have poor level of awareness on health & hygiene. Their age-old practice of using pond water for domestic purpose and even for drinking still persists. The health surveys show that a large number of Indians is suffering from malnutrition, which is one of the chief causes of ill health and the incidence of diseases among the weaker sections of society. The tragedy of this dire situation is that it is the children who suffer most. According to medical experts, 80% of a person’s development of brain and immunity against diseases take place during the first two years of childhood from birth. Also half the adult height is achieved by this age.
Recent studies have revealed the following disconcerting facts about India:
a) Under 5 years Mortality rate is 72/1000 live births,
b) Maternal Mortality Rate is the highest in the world,
c) Almost half of all children under 5 are malnourished,
d) Primary school dropouts are in large numbers; they are under-weight & susceptible to diseases.
It was this heart-wrenching, pitiable condition of the poor and neglected children that has prompted the Ramakrishna Mission to undertake a Rural Health care project for Children called Vivekananda Swasthya Parisheva Prakalpa (VSPP), which primarily aims at improving the health of children in city slums and rural areas.
The main objectives of VSPP are as follows:
1. To eradicate malnutrition of children below 5, at least in the selected backward areas, as far as possible.
2. To provide regular health check-up to children, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
3. To provide health education, especially to womenfolk, and teach them the basic principles of personal hygiene, environmental hygiene, child nutrition and care, etc.
4. To provide health and moral education to the children aged 5 to 12 years.
5. To provide a clean and hygienic environment especially in slums by cleaning up the narrow streets and lanes full of garbage and dirt.
6. To ensure community participation in keeping the living quarters and environment clean and hygienic by creating in the minds of people a sense of collective responsibility and spirit of self-reliance.
7. To immunize the new-born babies.
In total 126 units under this program are functioning at different parts of our country, aiming at remedying child malnutrition, and preventive and curative medical care mainly to the malnourished children. A child cannot be healthy unless the mother is healthy. So, through this project, the pregnant and lactating mothers are also taken care of. More than 12,600 undernourished beneficiaries (both children and mothers) selected from the city slums and villages were benefited under this project. The response received from all these places is encouraging. The details are given below.
Health Care: The beneficiaries are served regularly with nutritive food 21 supplements, vitamins, etc. The pregnant mothers are provided with special medicines. Regular health check-up camps are organized, through which the beneficiaries are given free consultation and medication. Special cases are also attended to. Immunization for the new-born babies is also done in some places.
Education: The grown-up children are given moral education as in Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa. As a part of health education health-related films, video or computer display on nutrition, immunization, TB, common ailments and their remedies, etc. are screened. Besides, they are educated on various topics such as personal hygiene and sanitation, and the necessity of safe drinking water, brushing teeth, washing hands, paring nails, etc.
Hygiene & Environmental Care: The beneficiaries are regularly provided with various toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, oil, etc. Besides, in some places tube wells were dug, small-scale water-filters were installed and sanitary latrines were constructed.
Community Participation: In some places, the local people were made aware of how to keep the slums, their living quarters and environment clean and hygienic, by cleaning garbage etc.
Monitoring and Evaluation: The aforesaid activities were monitored and evaluated through the preservation of records and analysis of data.
c) Education & empowerment of the women (Sarada Palli Vikash Prakalpa)
Swami Vivekananda used to emphasize on the empowerment of women. With a view to propagate this idea, initiatives are taken to launch a project named ‘Sarada Palli Vikash Prakalpa’ which aims at providing self-development opportunities to women disregarded, neglected and tormented by society and family; helping them to become self-reliant and occupy their just position in the family – an effort to make them instrumental in changing the family and the society at large.
The Program :
- Motivating women to develop a positive mind to change their existing condition, to pin-point their problems and empowering them to solve the problems on their own, and also extending help if needed.
- Providing non-formal education and other instructions on a variety of subjects to enhance their self-confidence.
- To instill in them a sense of health consciousness and hygiene, to develop the willingness to enjoy health facilities provided (Hospitals, Health-centers etc.), to create a hygienic environment in the family, proper sanitation systems, and to bring to their notice the usefulness of individual as well as family health hygiene.
- Creating awareness and habit of healthy food, nutrition and the use of safe drinking water.
- Making them careful about extravagancies (expenses towards addictions, ineffective medications, useless social obligations etc.).
- Increasing their means of income, discussing their present means of income, knowing their own preferences for generating more income, making a stock of their resources and helping them in utilizing it to the fullest extent, providing monetary help when needed.
- Organizing various means for increasing their income through both individualistic and group-based means. Providing training facilities if needed. Responsibility towards production and distribution has to be taken up by the individual member or the group concerned. Providing further opportunities and help in case of a loss, due to ill-fated circumstances (death of cattle during delivery or due to any other reason, death of poultry due to various diseases, death of honey-bees due to infection etc.)
d) Poverty alleviation project (Akhandananda Seva Prakalpa)
Poverty has been the main obstacle to India’s socio-economic development. In spite of the best efforts by the administration and non-government agencies, the problem still persists. It was Swami Vivekananda’s earnest desire to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor and the needy. Swami Akhandananda was the first brother disciple of Swami Vivekananda to materialize the new doctrine of Service “Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva”. While on pilgrimage, Swami Akhandananda rached Murshidabad where he found a famine raging. He immediately started famine relief work with whatever he could collect. Later Swami Vivekananda sent more funds and the relief operation was organized on a full scale. This was the first relief operation organized by the Ramakrishna Mission. In one of his letters, Swami Vivekananda summed up his service-program to Indian society as, ‘India is to be raised, the poor are to be fed, education is to be spread, and the evil of priest craft is to be removed.… More bread, more opportunity for everybody!’ Keeping this in mind, the Ramakrishna Mission plans to ameliorate poverty in a few selected pockets under a project named ‘Akhandananda Seva Prakalpa’. In this project ten pockets of poverty were identified and subsequently assistance is provided to poor people to overcome the hurdles by means of proper training and other opportunities.
- To generate awareness among the target group about improving the quality of life and motivate them to identify their problems and solving them on their own, extending the aid required.
- Providing non-formal education and various other instructions on a variety of subjects so that they feel confident.
- To generate awareness in them about health and hygiene. Use of proper sanitation facilities like Sulabh Shauchalaya and toilet blocks, availing oneself of health care services in hospitals, primary health-centres etc. and use of safe drinking water are also encouraged.
- Vocational training facilities provided to enable them to face economic challenges.
- Steps are taken to impart the idea of resource management including drawing their attention towards managing the finances by reducing meaningless expenditure and use of non-conventional or modern tools.
- Providing start-up capital for starting ventures after completion of training.
- Organizing Self-Help Groups (SHGs) with the targeted people and take all necessary steps for thrift and savings, bank linkage for deposit accounts as well as micro-finance, undertaking economic activities, marketing of products, holding awareness camps etc.