Students of Centers of higher education must be exposed to the realities of the society. All centers of learning have to create opportunities to expose the students to social problems and sensitize them to the issues confronting the less privileged. Field action projects provide an ideal ground to operationalise these objectives. More importantly the primary function of Universities is to build knowledge. Field action and disseminate projects make a valuable contribution in the creation of practical knowledge.
Centre for Social Action (CSA)
The CSA at Christ University came into existence in response to the most cherished value of Christ university- Social responsibility. It is a unique movement, where student communities are sensitized on various issues affecting the poor and the marginalized sections of society. This is done so that they can internalize and personalize the issues and contribute to sustainable changes in the lives of the marginalized individuals and the communities. CSA is a 'Students Movement for a Humane and Just Society'
Objectives of CSA:
CSA and the Department of Social Work
There are several areas of interface between CSA and the Social Work department, at Christ University. The most important of them being the delivery of a curricular paper titled "Extension activity". This is a compulsory paper offered to all students of I and II semester MSW. This is a skilled based paper with some theoretical inputs as well. The students are trained in three areas of practical application – Campaigning, Street Theatre and Developing Audio Visual material. These skills are tested in both the semesters where students develop activities based on their training on predetermined themes. These activities are carried out in the college campus as well as in the CSA urban projects sites. The Staff members of CSA co-ordinate these activities. The evaluation is also carried out with the help of CSA staff.
CSA as a field work agency
CSA provides a wonderful setting for placing the students for field work. The staff of CSA supervises the students as well as guides them in practicing the methods of social work. The CSA rural projects are the sites where the rural camps of the department of social work are held. Students have been trained in PRA techniques and have participated in baseline surveys in the different sites of CSA.
Besides students of Christ University, CSA is also a placement agency for students of social work of other institutions across the country. International students especially those from Norway like the Hist University and Diakonjjemmet University and the Lund University, Sweden have been placing the students for field work practice at the CSA. It would be interesting to note that faculty members of Social work department supervise these students.
CSA projects in Urban slums
CSA undertakes several child and environment centered community development programmes in 5 slums in Bangalore. This helps the students get involved with communities. The different programmes carried out in the urban slums are
1. Educate a Child: This is a very unique and an inspiring programme, where exclusively, the student community of Christ University sponsors poor children from urban slums for their education and overall holistic development. This programme began in 1999, through a small initiative of sponsorships by the Christ University students for 50 children in one slum. Today, the students sponsor 350 poor children every year and it has expanded to two more slums of Bangalore.
2. Self help groups: Thirty Self Help Groups of women are functioning in 3 slums in Bangalore where CSA is working. 450 mothers of the sponsored children are enrolled in these 30 SHGs. The SHGs address various issues affecting their slum and their families. The SHGs meet regularly, undertake child development activities and manage saving & credit activities and income generation activities. They are also linked with banks and other micro finance institutions.
3. Housing Project: The aim of this project is to create better environmental conditions for the children and their families residing in the slums, through construction of suitable houses. For the house construction, interest free loans are provided to the families. First preference is given to the families of the sponsored children. The families have to pay back the loan in small-equated installments. The money which is repaid is used to construct more houses for the other families. The monitoring and the quality of construction of the houses are kept in check by the Self Help Groups (SHGs) women. The SHGs are responsible for making sure that the loans are repaid on time without any defaults. So far 67 houses have been constructed in Rajendranagar slum, Bangalore by CSA.
4. Decentralized Community Based Solid Waste Management Programme:This programme works at two levels. One project called 'Parivarthana' is at the slum level in the two slums of Rajendranagar and Ambedkarnagar in Bangalore. The second project is at the ward level. CHF International, Bangalore, supports both the programmes.
The Parivarthana project is implemented in Rajendranagar and Ambedkarnagar slums in Bangalore and in Christ University campus. The project commenced in July 2008 and is in its withdrawal stages. The aim of this project is to have a clean and hygienic environment for the poor slum communities through scientific and a decentralized community- based solid waste management. The community is responsible for managing the project. For this purpose, a Common Interest Group (CIG) of 17 women is formed which is involved in the collection, segregation, sorting, composting and recycling of the solid waste generated by the community. A sorting cum composting unit has been established in Christ University and also in the two slums. A paper recycling unit is functioning in the campus. The sorting cum compost units generates valuable waste recyclables and compost. The paper recycling unit produces value added products like files, folders, carry bags, note books, greeting cards, etc. The recyclables, compost and the paper products are sold in order to raise incomes for the CIG institution.
The ward level project works in 5 wards of Bangalore in collaboration with Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Here, CSA works with the Municipal Waste collectors (Pourakarmikas-PKs )and informal waste collectors 3D Empowerment Project: 3D stands for Desirable, Dynamic, and Development. This is a project implemented at Janakiramnagar Slum in Bangalore. The goal of the project is to work with the poor community of Janakiramnanagar Layout slum with special focus on, women and youth. It is a comprehensive child centered community development project, where there are also components related to 'Educate a Child' sponsorship programme, Self help groups of women, crèche for children of working mothers, activity centres for children, business unit for women, skill training for a few youth in 'Electrician cum plumber' training programme
CSA And Rural Development Projects
There are three major rural projects that CSA is involved in. All three of these projects are child focused community development projects. The earliest project at Hoskote was titled "Chetana" After a successful period of intervention this project has attained sustainability and the project has been handed over to the community. The second project is called Jeevadan project implemented in 14 villages in Nirmal, Adilabad District in Andhra Pradesh and the third project is the Manikgarh Hills Community Development (MHCDP) project implemented in 24 villages in Jiwati Taluk, Chandrapur District in Maharashtra.
Jeevadan Project commenced in April 2005 in 15 villages covering 1503 socio-economically backward families and is in the sixth year of its implementation. The project is at the preparation stage for the final sustainable mechanisms to be set in. MHCDP project commenced in August 2009 and is in the second year of its implementation. It is implemented in 24 villages covering 1347 families. The project is in the stage where all the entry point activities have been implemented and also the community organization and empowerment processes are being implemented.
Projects at the rural communities
1. Early Childhood Care Centres:
This Programme caters to the children in the age group of 0-5years. The children are provided with supplementary nutrition, play and learning materials, etc. 32 government run anganawadis have been rendered with infrastructure support, play materials and learning materials. Besides the six project run early childcare centres have also been supported. In the same centres, malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers are identified and supported with supplementary nutrition and medicines in all the project villages.
This component caters to the educational rights of children aged 6 to 16 years. The component takes care of the school education for the 6-16 yrs aged children. It also caters to the mainstreaming of the out of school children and the child labours aged between 6-16yrs of age. The school children are supported to continue their education in their schools by providing them with educational materials such as books, uniforms, school bags. They are also supported through activity centres, where the children's' overall development and participation is enhanced through children's clubs and the child parliaments.
3. Health and Nutrition:
This component caters to the basic rights of the children aged 0-5 years and the pregnant and lactating mothers (ANC/PNC care). It also caters to the health rights of the community in general. It takes care of proper nutrition, immunization and health care of the children and the mothers. The objective here is to reduce infant and maternal mortality and also to enable the proper development of the children and the mothers. It caters to the health of school aged children, adolescent girls and the general community. In both the Jeevadan and MHCDP projects, work is carried out with the Integrated Child Development Services and in a few villages, where the ICDS reach is not there, the project has set up in Early Childcare Centres
4. Community Based Organisations (CBOs):
Both the Jeevadan and MHCDP projects have organized the community groups such as children, women, youth farmers, into self help groups and clubs (including child parliaments). The programme caters to the basic rights of these target groups including their livelihood rights. This crucial component is very crucial in ensuring that the benefit to the children, women, youths, farmers and others in the community, accrued through the CFCD project intervention continues even after the project withdrawal
5. Livelihood & Watershed
This is important in enhancing the socio-economic conditions of the community through the promotion of feasible income generation programmes. The income generation programmes are of two types namely on-farm and off-farm. The on-farm income activities are mainly agriculture-based and the off-farm are small businesses or income activities such as goat rearing. The watershed and land development activities are mainly focuses on improving the water tables in the area and also for increasing the soil fertility and moisture levels in the areas.
The contribution of CSA in the area of sensitizing the students of Christ University is immense. There are several students based activities that take place within and outside the campus. The students also publish their views in a Magazine titled "We Care".
Dr K. Hemalatha
Associate Professor, Dept of Social Work, Christ University, Bengaluru
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