On The Road

Occasional ramblings from a rambling journalist

VILLAGE GETS A NEW VOICE

It’s hard to find too many places on the planet today that don’t have access to some form of media.  However in remote parts of India’s Maharashtra state, many indigenous tribal or Adivasi communities don’t have radio, television or even access to mobile ‘phones.  Many can’t even read.

It’s for that reason that HCR, in partnership with Seva Social Welfare Foundation, has begun a project to distribute “speaker boxes” with content that will transform lives.  With local-dialect dramas, music and audio programmes that educate, inform and entertain, the ‘Adivasi Voices Project’ is an innovative way to help communities that are very poor and isolated from mainstream Indian society, deprived of the basic facilities of life such as clean water, food, sanitation and healthcare.

Seva team Members distribute speaker boxes to remote Adivasi villagers in Maharastra, India
(Photo used with permission)

“This project will help lift our community as we have suffered for so long from the effects of ignorance and poor education,” said the head of the village, Mr Ramdas Warde.  Another community member who didn’t want to be named, spoke of how they felt forgotten by the government, who had promised a lot during election-time, but the promises had never materialised.

A major research project conducted in partnership between Seva and HCR in July 2018, revealed that the low level of health and well-being was due largely to poor water, sanitation and hygiene as well as harmful superstitious practices.  One lady showed scars on her stomach from where she had been burned by a witchdoctor who said the burning would drive out the evil spirits.  One of the medical doctors spoke of how many girls in the region got married soon after their first periods so that when the first children came along both the mother and child were malnourished.

Seva’s Chief Executive, Ms. Shilpa Shinde, said that changing attitudes and mindsets would take a long time, but that the powerful combination of information and education via the speaker boxes, as well as on the ground interventions such as health camps and sanitation programmes, would begin to change things. She added: “We are committed to seeing the lives and livelihoods of Adivasi communities across the state transformed and we believe this powerful combination of media working with service providers will bring hope to the poorest and most marginalised in our country”.

 

 

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  • There is an old proverb that says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”   At HCR we’ve come to realise that if we really want to help alleviate poverty, we need to go even further – we need to teach people to start “fishing businesses”, so they can feed themselves, their families and their communities, for all time.

    To that end, in partnership with Aid For Trade and supported by the Andrews Charitable Trust, we recently launched the YES (Young Entrepreneurs’ Startup) project, in an area of eastern Kenya’s Tana River County, where poverty is widespread.  Using the newly established radio station, Amani FM, the project involves an innovative mix of creative radio programmes, live ‘phone-in discussions, social media interaction and workshops to encourage local people, irrespective of their education, to develop their business ideas and then put them into action.  By the end of the workshops, budding entrepreneurs will be able to develop business plans, the best of which will be eligible for low-interest loans.  As the resulting businesses get going, the radio station will closely follow the development of these enterprises, encouraging new would-be entrepreneurs to have a go.

     

    Hancy Funana presents “Tuanze Biashara” (we start a business) on Amani FM in Tana River, eastern Kenya

    “We are now up to programme seven on the radio, and beginning to help workshop participants develop their business plans,” says project leader, Philip Amara, adding that already many great business ideas are being generated.   Philip says the radio programmes Tuanze Biashara’, which is Swahili for “We Start a Business”, have been well-received by the community and generated a very lively response across the region.  There is also a very active WhatsApp group with around 45 participants who share ideas, encourage each other and respond to the things they are learning.   “Just today,” says Philip, “a group has announced their plans to set up a modern butchery in the town of Garsen, which is a real need in the area.”  In this region of high unemployment, Philip is confident that the project will stimulate new wealth in the area and begin to break the mindset of poverty and dependency on aid.

    Philip Amara (right) interacts with participants during a workshop to train budding entrepreneurs in Tana River County

    Although extreme global poverty has been cut by more than half since 1990, sub-Saharan Africa is lagging behind with over 40% of people still living in absolute poverty.   Our dream is to extend the YES project to other parts of Kenya and the Swahili-speaking world, to make a sustainable contribution to ending poverty among some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities, enabling people to enjoy the fullness of life for which they were created.

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  • Filed under: HCR, Jon's Journeys, Micro-enterprise, Poverty