Don’t Give Me Charity, Give Me a Chance, says Crisys

A hi-tech NGO uses technology to improve the lives of tribal population, creating a win-win model that benefits adivasis and the society

 

Ravi Waghmare, a serious-minded tribal youth from Maharashtra, wanted to be a teacher. But government posts in the taluka were auctioned to the highest bidder and he did not possess the ability, or the confidence, to work in the city. Today, this diploma-holder in education works as a diver for an illegal sand-dredging operation which reduces his life expectancy by 10-20 years; it could also lead to blindness, hearing loss or paralysis.

 

Adivasis or ‘indigenous tribes’ are at the threshold of change. With depleting forests, on the one hand, and increasing influence of mass media and development on the other, they find themselves the crossroads: they cannot sustain their traditional lifestyle and are also unable to benefit from India’s growth economy. That is where Crisys steps in.

 

Crisys is a registered non-profit company based in Thane (Maharashtra). Its vision is to create a connected, abundant and responsible society through technology. Its name is an acronym for ‘Creative Responsible Integrated Systems’ and it is developing innovative solutions for the development of indigenous tribes.

 

Crisys is the brainchild of Glenn Fernandes, a visionary technologist, who worked in Siemens India Ltd for 20 years before he quit his job to dedicate his life to social work. He has been joined by an able and dedicated team of software and electronics engineers, medical practitioners, bio-technologists, professionals in sustainable development & management and volunteers from Germany and Austria.

 

Its flagship project ‘PACT’ (pratigya apprenticeship for community transformation) provides free training to adivasi youth in fields like IT, healthcare, education and agriculture. They use these skills in two ways: firstly, to work in development projects for their own communities; secondly, to undertake external projects that provide professional work experience and help generate funds for their monthly stipends and salaries. For instance, IT apprentices work part-time in developing educational multimedia for adivasis, and part-time in ‘Jungle BPOs’ doing 3D modelling, animation, data processing, software maintenance and other IT jobs under professional supervision. The infrastructure and equipment set-up is financed by Crisys.

 

Crisys is developing similar programmes in agriculture and industry aimed at providing training and livelihood in situ, in the adivasi villages. This would reduce migration to cities, give opportunities to women and help develop backward areas, without imposing any burden on the society.

 

Another innovative project is the ‘rapid remote kit’ (R3) developed by Crisys to provide immediate medical relief in remote areas, with no roads or ambulances. It comprises (1) mono-wheel ambulance that can traverse rough, rocky terrain (2) portable low/no-power respirators (3) snakebite relief measures such as humane snake trap, leg gaitors or coverings and first-aid medication.

 

R3 kits are distributed free of cost in snakebite-affected areas as part of its ‘snakeathon’ project. Funds are generated from Crisys Software and IT projects as well as corporate and individual sponsorships. Crisys had also filed a PIL (public interest litigation) in the Bombay High Court about government action to help reduce deaths due to snakebite. In October 2014, the court asked the Maharashtra government to examine its research and to consider the feasibility of promulgating an Emergency Medical Services Act, on the lines of such legislation in Gujarat.

 

Crisys is an NGO with a difference. It provides a platform for connecting marginalised population with mainstream society.

 

Crisys Foundation

Ground Floor, Madhav Baug Brahmin Society,

Naupada, Thane 400602, Maharashtra,

Telephone: +91 022 25393537, +91 91670 23335

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.crisys.in

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

4 years ago

Give a hungry man a fish and you feed him for today.

Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Bapoo M. Malcolm

Mesco’s Education Efforts for Poor Students

For nearly four decades, Mesco has worked to improve the quality of life of the financially weak through meaningful education

 

Modern Education Social & Cultural Organization (Mesco) was established in September 1968 with the vision of its founders, Dr AA Quereshi, SA Vohra and Dr MA Khatkhatay (currently its general secretary). It started as a small and humble effort—funds were raised by collecting old newspapers from donor families. The money generated was used to distribute textbooks and notebooks to needy students.

 

There has been no looking back for Mesco since those early days. Its annual budget has grown from just Rs3,000 to Rs8.5 crore and it reaches out to 80,000 poor families per year. The areas of operation are education, medical intervention and poverty alleviation. Mesco is accredited by Credibility Alliance and is empanelled with Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It is listed on the website of GiveIndia for donors to contribute.

 

According to Dr MA Khatkhatay, “Inability to meet school expenses for uniforms, books, shoes, etc, deprives the student from acquiring better education. These circumstances lead to school drop-outs.” School drop-outs are a problem all over India, especially girls. Mesco has intervened in Mumbai and its suburbs to make sure that there is continuity in education of the girl child in every family that it is involved with.

 

Mesco’s schemes under education include: educational aid, educational scholarships and enrolment in RC Mahim Municipal Urdu School which has about 2,000 students. Mesco has adopted the School since the last 18 years. Over the decades, this effort has gradually evolved into a programme that helps more than a thousand students every year for their educational needs by providing one-time aid to meet school expenses in the beginning of the academic year.

 

Educational adoption of students is done at Class VIII level and is based on the student’s performance in the previous three years. Full support is provided to the student until completion of his/her college education.

 

Scholarship is a ‘loan scholarship’ under which Rs50,000 to Rs70,000 per year is provided to students selected for professional courses. Repayment of the loan by the student commences after the student has completed his/ her studies and stabilised in employment.

 

Under its medical help programmes, Mesco runs three mobile clinics and two dispensaries in Mumbai. It also provides sustained dialysis support and medical aid, including that required for costly treatment or chronic medical issues. The sustained dialysis support scheme, started in 2012-13, provides lifetime support to those who need this critical help. In 2013-14 it helped 26 patients with this support at a total cost of Rs35 lakh. For some of its medical intervention programmes, Mesco has collaborated with AmeriCares India Foundation and Wockhardt Foundation which provide free medicines for distribution to needy patients.

 

Under its poverty relief programmes, Mesco provides sewing machines to needy women. Hoorbanu, a widow with two school-going children, is able to earn between Rs8,000 to Rs10,000 a month due to Mesco’s support. Mesco’s website says, “During 2013-14, we have assisted 3,626 school and college students, provided medical services to 391 patients under various schemes and to over 80,000 patients through our three mobile clinics and two fixed dispensaries; and provided poverty relief to 378 beneficiaries.”

 

Readers who wish to contribute to Mesco’s efforts with donation may contact Mesco at the address given alongside. Donors are eligible for income-tax exemption under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act.

 

Modern Educational Social & Cultural Organization (Mesco)

110, Natalwala Building, VS Road, Mahim (W), Mumbai 400 016, Maharashtra

Phones: (+9122) 24441442 / (+9122) 24448637, Fax: (+9122) 24448637,

E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]

Website: www.mescotrust.org

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COMMENTS

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3 months ago

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A place where she could study, laugh and make friends
AAWC seeks to empower the second generation to escape the cycle of prostitution
 
As a child, Shweta endured daily taunts about her dark skin and survived sexual abuse by her mother’s live-in partner. Yet, she thrived for eight years in AAWC’s (Apne Aap Women’s Collective) Udaan programme, where she was one of the only girls to come to the centre in the morning before school and again for regular after-school tuitions.  Today, Shweta is studying psychology at Bard College, USA and plans to return to Mumbai after her graduation to help other girls like herself escape the red light area. She remembers AAWC’s shelter as “A place where she could study, laugh, and make friends!” 
 
By providing services not only for women in prostitution but also for their daughters and young children, AAWC seeks to empower the second generation to escape the cycle of prostitution, secure well-paid skill-based jobs and, eventually, bring their mothers out of prostitution. 
 
Sudarshan Loyalka founded AAWC in 1998 as a women’s collective as an anti-trafficking organisation that serves the women and children of Kamathipura, the red-light area of Mumbai. Initially, a single-room drop-in centre, AAWC developed into a resource centre to address the women’s needs, providing them with professional counselling, medical care, micro-savings facilities and other services.
 
Today, it claims to provide almost everything that a mother can provide to the children, even as they grow up in Kamathipura. Manju Vyas, who joined AAWC in October 1998, has served as its director since April 1999. As its CEO, she has a professional team working with her, including women with a master’s degree in social work.
 
AAWC operates three programsme: Umeed for women in brothel-based prostitution (ages 18+), Udaan for daughters of Umeed members and other girls living in the red light area (ages 6-18), and Umang for toddlers of Umeed members (ages 2-5).
 
Since 1998, AAWC has served more than 2,800 women and children. Among AAWC’s VIP visitors has been Michelle Obama, in November 2010.
 
Apne Aap operates from two locations—Kamathipura, where they have a school and a night shelter, and Falkland Road where they have a school only. As you walk up to the Pochammadevi Temple in Kamathipura, you may still wonder about the location of the Apne Aap office. However, the bright pink entrance right opposite the temple and the excited squeals of the children within are landmarks enough,” says the newspaper DNA, describing the NGO’s work. 
Ashika Mehta, president of AAWC claims, “Not a single daughter from our NGO has gone into prostitution. And that’s something, because otherwise the chances are anywhere between 50% to 80%.” AAWC is also fortunate to have support from celebrities like actress Rani Mukerji and designers Anju Modi, Surily Goel, Atsu and Reema Zaveri, among others.
 
Interestingly, The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) is an important fund-raising platform for AAWC, since 2009. You too can contribute to its work by volunteering, partnering or donating to AAWC. Cheques in any currency can be made in favour of Apne Aap Women’s Collective and sent with a covering letter stating: (i) PAN (ii) full address (iii) email address and (iv) purpose of the donation (e.g., general purpose, Udaan, etc). Indian donors are entitled to tax benefits under Section 80 G of the Income-Tax Act.
 
Apne Aap Women’s Collective
61-B, Room No. 6, Ground Floor, 
Shankarrao Pupala Marg, 11th Lane Kamathipura, 
Opposite Pochammadevi Temple, Mumbai 400008, India
Telephone 91 22 2308 3326

 

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