The SAMARPAN project is an extension of the basic agenda of UNICEF to work with local and grass root development organizations towards a equitable and justifiable social order. According to Article 28 of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child,- “the state recognizes the rights of the child to education and they shall make primary education compulsory and free for all”. SAMARPAN project has divulged the CRC convention into reality through the involvement of local stakeholders and the partner agency, COSMOS, to secure the child rights to primary education, access to health and emotional support to those children who do not get the access to health. COSMOS has bred the responsibility of extending the program to the target communities with the support from UNICEF and the State Social Welfare Department and District primary Education Council through SSA). Hence looking at the program one could see that the program was one-dimensional in nature. In fact the thematic approach had consolidated the developments needs of the children as its primordial focus. The gradual metamorphosis of childhood into adulthood and responsible citizenship had been taken up through exposure to education along with co-curricular activities and initiation into child development eventuality for the children and as well as their family members and community.
2. Goal of the Project:
The attainment of complete development for the child depends on the socio-economic conditions prevailing as well as the congenial atmosphere of growth and development promoted and sustained by the family, group, community and the stakeholders like the state. The child being the focus of the project had endeavored to bring into focus the stakeholders responsibility to help the child grow. Hence SAMARPAN, as the name etymologically refers in Bengal- ‘ Commitment’, involves the service and demand generation for services pertaining to development of the child and also linking and bring about responsible stakeholders involvement in the development of the child. Considering the above one can state that SAMARPAN project aims at not only providing primary education but also the necessary inputs for a child’s mental and physical health through various co-curricular activities. The ultimate goal of the project was to ensure that each child would grow into a healthy, educated and self-reliant adult.
3. Program Objectives:
The specific program objectives of the SAMARPAN project had taken up the basic goal of the project. The objectives could be discussed as follows:
Means of verification
- To protect children from moving on/around platform/railway yards and nearby slums, involvement of child labour/trafficking with single or no parents.
- To provide proper quality education, to mainstream into government schools.
- Involved community to undertake the program on its own.
- 500 children involved in moving around in the project area will be reduced
- Health and nutritional status of children
- Participation of Government agencies and SSA
- Community participation
- Linkages with mainstreamed school
- Records of routine reviews by Samurnata staff by project coordinator.
- Secondary information local administration and SSA
- School enrollment and rate of drop out
- Process evaluation by Cosmos and Railway Children
- Political will - from all sectors of the society
- Acceptance by parents and community of the need to eliminate child labour and child abuse
- Long term donor support for activities which will address to overcome the root causes
- Fear of eviction
- Migration of families from time to time for livelihood
Introduction:Our perception of various developments Issues relating to North Bengal evolves from hard facts experienced in the area. They are depicted in the following:
– Very low literacy rate. Almost 16000 deprived urban children identified so far. Education for students are generally restricted up to Class VI or VIII. High dropout rates (nearly 62%), from primary to middle school lervel. Abnormally high students-teacher ratio at primary level schools which occassionally touches 150:1. There are large numbers (approximately 36%) of out of school children in the three districts, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar. In Coochbehar particularly, the out of school boys comprises 16.25% of school age (5 – 9 years) boys population matched by 19.92% of girls. (source Child register North Bengal)
– Most of the health centers are dysfunctional. There is hardly any staff available and scanty arrangement for medicines. Immunization suffers greatly affecting both expectant mothers and new born.
The CHAI Project’s fifth quarter showed real momentum towards improving the living standard of Darjeeling’s communities. Highlights included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Cosmos, which availed funding for Open Initiative activities that included the construction of a road, a pony path, seventeen latrines and three water systems. All twelve Community Initiative Groups (CIG) were formed and assessed their current ability to identify resources, plan, manage finances, advocate for community needs, and resolve conflicts.
The Youth Component also made headway. The first ever Inter-Village Youth Camp was held which enabled forty-eight village youth to build valuable skills and expand upon their knowledge, while sharing experiences about their lives, villages and chosen vocations. Market surveys enabled youth to identify, evaluate profitability and capitalize on potential village opportunities. Baseline data collection, including a capacity building assessment of village youth, set an impact gauge for these activities.
Health highlights included completing the “Watsan Competitions” in the last four communities to stress the importance of hygiene, sanitation, kitchen gardens, composting pits, latrine maintenance and village cleaning. Additionally, a visit from Judiann McNulty, MC Health Director, served instrumental in improving staff knowledge about causes of gastro-intestinal illnesses, implementing community-based monitoring systems, summarizing Year One Village baseline information, and identifying villages for Year Two.
In April 2004, the CHAI Project was fortunate to receive visits from Steve Smith, Tazo Founder, Rich Read, Oregonian Reporter and Tony Tellin, Tazo Senior Tea Specialist. The guests, visiting six out of the twelve communities during their four day stay, saw four on-going construction projects, talked with villagers about CHAI activities and impact, and viewed cultural shows performed by members from several villages. The CHAI partnership also received coverage at the January Starbucks Annual Leadership Conference, where Tazo and Mercy Corps staff jointly shared success stories.
Additional milestones included developing a Year Two Workplan, establishing guidelines for the Year Two Village selection process and drafting of the CHAI Relief Component.
Administratively, CHAI office staff was busy this quarter. The new Cosmos partnership required the transfer of all but one national staff person to Cosmos (Anup, Finance Manager, remained with Mercy Corps) and the opening of two new positions: an Accountant and Administrative Assistant. Establishing Cosmos CHAI finances in accordance with Indian and Cosmos regulations was also executed. Visits from several Cosmos representatives helped to facilitate the smooth and efficient turnover.
CHAI staff are looking forward to next quarter’s events, including completion of at least four OI Projects and commencement of OI Projects in the rest of Year One Villages; commencement of youth vocational trainings in all twelve Year One Villages; final selection of Year Two Villages; commencement of PRA work in Year Two villages; and the execution of the CHAI Relief Component.
This report covers the period from the January 1, 2004 to March 31, 2004 and comes in three sections. The first section contains reports on general progress to date, challenges, and special stories; the second section contains information on future plans; while the final section is the appendix and contains supporting details.
The Collaboration for Hope and Advancement in India (CHAI) is a project that aims to improve the quality of life in the rural communities in and around Darjeeling, a town high in the hills in the north of West Bengal, India. The CHAI project has its roots in several years of acts of charity undertaken by representatives of Tazo, a beverage company based in Portland, Oregon, USA. Tazo buys a considerable amount of tea from the area and during commercial field visits was exposed to the living conditions of the villages on and around the famous tea gardens of Darjeeling District. It is Tazo that now funds the CHAI project, with generous contributions from its business partners in India and the USA – notably Starbucks, the coffee company.
The project was researched, designed and is now supervised in Darjeeling by Mercy Corps, a non-profit international relief and development agency that is also based in Portland, Oregon as well as in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mercy Corps has been working since 1979 to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. The agency now operates in over thirty countries worldwide, where more than two thousand employees work in a wide range of humanitarian projects. In India, however, the CHAI project is the only staffed project, and so the Darjeeling office both represents the agency nationally as well as being the base for CHAI. In order to comply with Indian Law the project recently joined with COSMOS, a Calcutta based non-profit organization focusing on improving the lives of marginalized children. COSMOS is now responsible for implementing the CHAI Project and Mercy Corps oversees the operations, monitoring and evaluation. Together Tazo, Mercy Corps and COSMOS are working to make a profound and long-term difference in the lives of thousands of people living across rural Darjeeling.