Health camps work on the simple goal of reliable and affordable and quality health care services to the communities that do not have access to these services or even the basic knowledge on how to access them.This is ensured by providing services of paediatrics, general physicians, gynaecology, ENT and ophthalmology with free check-ups, various free medication, prescriptions and references for further treatment.
The foundation, in tandem with local healthcare facilities, not just provides these services, but educates these communities to better equip them to look after themselves.
Health camps are conducted at regular intervals to diagnose and treat people with ailments. An important objective of these camps is also to educate the local population with basic knowledge of nutrition, first aid and physical health care and monitoring. When an overall healthy lifestyle is promoted, these communities become self-sustaining and can grow further, one step at a time.
A large camp is set-up for the entire community, even for neighbouring villages to ensure that everyone gets proper care. If a more severe ailment is diagnosed, a prescription is issued and the patients are given referrals to get the right treatment, and at subsidised rates. The foundation provides continuous support through free medication, by conducting the camps regularly and even by following up on referred patients.
With the help of our partners we hold periodic eye screening camps and also disseminate glasses in rural communities. The eye camps conducted predominantly deal with issuing prescription lenses and even providing treatment for cataract with partner hospitals.
A major concern with vision in rural communities is loss of power and cataract. This happens as their lifestyle exposes them to many harsh elements; the weather, the focus intensive labour they do in craftwork, insufficient lighting and lack of knowledge in taking care of their vision in rest, nutrition and prevention. Most of these cases can be reduced through preventative measures.
Education is important for everyone. Rural communities are already disadvantaged when it comes to the opportunity of education, and this disadvantage is exaggerated to women and girl-children. Since the foundation’s goal is the eradication of poverty though independence, attention is given not just to overall education, but to bridging the gender gap. Health, income and change are the outcomes when everyone in the rural ecosystem is given the care and support they need.
The Hunarshala initiative develops a culture of self-designed learning, where children work on projects of change based on their interests while a facilitator guides and assists them through that journey. It is creativity and innovation driven, inciting holistic development for children and youth.
A space available to children that attend government school with the freedom to explore their passion, develop their interests, indulge in the creative, co-create and participate in projects of change may seem a fantastical idea, and one we share with pride.
The activities available in the Hunarshala are sport, art & craft, computers, robotics, music, dance and more. Flexible and adaptive learning is an important change to the current system to stay ahead of the evolving world, and to also account for alternative skills that traditionally are not given attention. Currently, we drive this space with 40 children in the village of Aaspura, Rajasthan.
Alternative Education Program
This is a 6 month program consisting of regular 2 hour-long classes, and teaches basic literacy and math, understanding health, hygiene, family life and confidence-building activities to make artisans become more self-sustaining. The educated women of the community become the teachers, and are given training to participate effectively.
Education is important for women in order to lead an independent life and escape the cycle of poverty. Through education they learn the skills necessary and have the freedom to be more adabptive, flexible and leaders. As many women drop out of school early or do not have the opportunity to have an education, we give them a chance to learn fundamental skills. The initiative first began in 2010, to provide functional literacy to artisans and the rural community that did not have the opportunity to complete their primary education.
Government Linkages and Financial Inclusion
The state and central government bodies in India have created multiple welfare programs but these are woefully under-utilised due to poor awareness and literacy in the rural communities. The benefits of all these available services are still out of reach of the people in need, and there is no progress although there is investment of resource.
The foundation joins the hands that don’t meet by educating rural communities on the services available, their rights and monitors the follow through of these programs to avoid any foul play.
The foundation assists in making use of local banking services (conventional and innovative) by basic education in financial planning and opening bank accounts. When the rural communities start utilising these facilities, they are open to more opportunities and government schemes as they are linked with accounts and national identification (Aadhaar).
As today’s financial system is complex to navigate and rural communities are left with an even bigger disadvantage. They struggle to make ends meet and get trapped in cycles of debt or lose out on providing for their family or even looking after their own wellbeing.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan
The foundation assists daily-wage earners with an income less than 15,000 ($210) a month to subscribe to a scheme that can help provide pension, which is not an available option to most rural communities.
This pension scheme by the Government of India provides daily wage-earners between the ages of 18-40 with financial assistance once they reach the age of 60 years. The scheme requires a subscriber to pay a monthly installment similar to an insurance, where there are benefits that can be availed on maturity. Because this scheme is for the unorganised (low income) sector, it is structured in a manner that allows the subscriber to get benefits if they exit early or are in financial need.
An Artisan card is a photo identity card that is linked to national identification (Aadhaar) that provides access to State and Central government welfare schemes. With handicraft having significant market demand, the artisans who are almost entirely from low income backgrounds require the support in the form of capital, sustainable employment and access to government support.
The foundation assists artisans navigate the complex procedure to get the card which then helps then avail the benefits of all the various schemes.
Most rural families are daily wage-earners and more specifically, from masonry and labour. The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board in each state has comprehensive welfare programs that can be utilised once these families get the Labour Card.
The foundation assists eligible candidates with getting the card issued, which then gives them access to statutory benefits like medical assistance, education scholarships and accidental/death benefits etc.
Education is very important, but the access to education is a struggle in rural areas. The government has created channels of opportunity for low income backgrounds, but the biggest challenge is navigating the structure. While the structure provides procedure, transparency and reach, most communities are unaware of the programs or struggle to complete the formalities.
The foundation assists the rural communities navigate the complex structure to avail scholarships provide unabated education to artisans’ children that deserve. In doing so, they can reach new heights and follow a career of their own choosing.