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Message from the CEO
Cover Story

Over the last twelve months, Sehgal Foundation has celebrated its 15-year-long journey with rural communities. This has been a time to note achievements, reflect back, and also look ahead. For 15 years, Sehgal Foundation has worked to make a positive difference in the lives of the rural poor who seek and deserve secure, prosperous, and dignified lives. With these commitments, and our desire to accelerate the very slow process of development, we moved forward with a dedicated team, learning as we went, shifting gears as needed, and building on our successes.

Empowering rural women is critical to our mission to strengthen community-led development to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change. This issue of Connect offers stories of change by women. A recently published book, Poetry of Purpose, features photos and stories of 15 women leaders in India, including case studies of three rural women associated with Sehgal Foundation. These dynamic women—Vimla, a village sarpanch from Mewat, Haryana; Lakshmi, krishi sakhi in Alwar, Rajasthan; and Razia, former staffer who now coordinates ASHA (health) workers in Mewat—have helped themselves and their communities to march forward. We are very proud of them.

One joy of the 15-year celebration is the publication of a biography of our founders, Seeds for Change: The Lives and Work of Suri and Edda Sehgal, written by Marly Cornell, documenting the inspiring work of the visionaries behind Sehgal Foundation. The book has received multiple book awards, including two Ben Franklin awards.

Join us in the celebration by viewing a video that chronicles our journey so far.

Jane Schukoske

All is well, finally, with wells in Samra

Community-led action with facilitation from civil society and corporate partnerships helped solve a local problem with a deadly broken well platform. Many other villages that face this issue day in and day out can follow suit where water structures created to serve people often become a cause of serious accidents.

Read more...

Community Stories

Village school renovated

Ration depot functions well

Now learning is fun with the revival of the government middle school of village Soank, Nuh block, Mewat! The collective action of villagers who called a meeting in the presence of school authorities and other relevant officials, to discuss issues facing the school, yielded good results. Villagers put forth their concerns and outlined inadequacies in the school infrastructure and Mid Day Meal program and planned to revive the School Management Committee (SMC) to take up matters more seriously. Recent efforts by the committee have resulted in providing 200 benches for classrooms and ground leveling of the school premises. The SMC is now a proud stakeholder and the members feel jubilant about their achievement.
“We waited for Eid to get our share of sugar from the ration depot,” said Rasheed. No one in village Godhola (population 5,500) in Punhana block of Mewat is surprised to receive only sugar from the ration depot under Public Distribution System during the time of Eid or Diwali. Many villagers, including Rasheed, didn’t get their ration regularly during the past few months. The depot holder appeared to supply rations to villagers according to his own whims. On some occasions, when people received their rations, they were charged much more than prevalent rates and/or provided with a smaller quantity than entitled. The situation turned around only after villagers trained under Sushasan Abhi (Good Governance Now!) voiced their concerns before the tehsildar (revenue officer) who called upon the depot holder to explain the irregularities. Subsequently, the depot holder was given a warning for disciplinary action to cancel his license. The depot holder mended his ways and is now supplying rations to villagers on time.

People who know their rights work to receive their entitlements under government programs. Sushasan (good governance) Champion Rasheed was trained through Village Leadership School, and many others like him are working as grassroots advocates fighting daily battles for their rights.

From the Field

Village school awarded

Kisan Sammelan recognizes progressive farmers

The Government Middle School in Dungran Shahzadpur received the second district-level award (third position) for its "Class Readiness Program" under Mukhyamantri Shiksha Diksha Yojna (Chief minister’s education initiation scheme) on January 26, 2015. The scheme recognizes efforts in activity-oriented learning that enhances educational standards in government schools.

The Shahzadpur school was renovated with the support from Sehgal Foundation and Mosaic India Pvt. Ltd. in 2013 under the Krishi Jyoti (enlightened agriculture) project. Approximately 400 students of the school have received the benefits of the improved school infrastructure. The school had also received the first prize under Mukhyamantri School Saundaryikaran Yojna (Chief minister’s School Beautification Scheme) in April 2014.
Together with Mosaic India, Sehgal Foundation organized a Kisan Sammelan (farmers’ gathering) on March 12, 2015, in Ghaghas, Mewat. Over 150 participants, including 125 farmers, attended the event. Farmers from Krishi Jyoti villages shared their experiences and learnings about various aspects of the project. Certificates of appreciation were presented to 31 progressive farmers for their association in the project and the replication of knowledge.

Both organizations took part in an exhibition at the Agri Leadership Summit organized by the government of Haryana and PHD Chambers. The summit was held in Leisure Valley Park, Gurgaon, from March 13-15, 2015. More than 5,000 farmers, including 100 participating farmers from Krishi Jyoti and NABARD projects, visited the stall and learned about the agricultural development programs.
Latest at Sehgal Foundation

ICTs for good governance at grassroots featured

Employee exchange program with Essar Foundation

Sehgal Foundation organized the Fifth Annual Conference on Good Rural Governance and Citizen Participation on March 13, 2015, at its campus in Gurgaon. The theme was “ICT for Good Governance at the Grassroots.” Participants discussed the huge potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) that cater to the development needs of rural India by providing information to a large number of people and helping them to ensure delivery of basic services. Read more... Sehgal Foundation hosted a staff member of Essar Foundation, Mumbai, from April 6-10, 2015 to orient her to our work as an implementing NGO. Sharing her experience from the visit to Sehgal Foundation, Radhika Agarwal said, “Sehgal Foundation entered Mewat, recognized the problems and stayed, but did not just dictate solutions and vanish. They sat down with the people, went through their problems and designed solutions with them. That’s why it has taken 15 years to do what they have been able to do. This is such an important lesson I learned. It is not enough to go there and tell people what to do unless we become a part of their lives and understand and ask villagers for permission to interact and offer help.”

Seeds for Change book launch at Hyderabad

IPNI scientists visit Mewat villages

Sehgal Foundation hosted the launch of biography Seeds for Change: The Lives and Work of Suri and Edda Sehgal by Marly Cornell on April 15, 2015 at the hotel Trident, Hyderabad. The launch was attended by senior delegates and invitees from the city. The award-winning biography is available on Amazon.in and Amazon.com. Read more...
Community members and conferees from International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) met at Khohar school in Alwar, Rajasthan, on April 14, 2015. The group visited farm demonstrations, a check dam, and a school renovated with support from an IPNI member, The Mosaic Company Foundation, US. IPNI scientists interacted with farmers from Mewat.

Discussion on water and gram panchayats

Community radio for legal awareness

Sehgal Foundation held a panchayat advisory group meeting on April 9, 2015 to emphasize the critical water issues in rural areas. The goal was to create stronger liaisons between panchayats and other stakeholders involved in water. Experts from government, corporations, and NGOs participated to explore avenues for working together on water issues with gram panchayat (village councils).
“I never expected that a phone call could help solve my problem,” said a 45-year-old man with a physical disability from district Mewat, Haryana, when he learned for the first time that he was eligible for free legal services. His property dispute has been long pending before the court, but he is now assured of its appropriate disposal. Read more...

Sehgal Foundation-USA

Seeds for Change book-signing event

March for water

Seeds for Change was introduced to attendees at the BGCI conference sponsored by the William L. Brown Center and held at Missouri Botanical Garden on April 30, 2015. Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is the oldest botanical garden in the US. The William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden was endowed by Suri Sehgal and Sehgal Foundation. Bill Brown was Dr. Sehgal’s mentor and close family friend. Author of Seeds for Change, Marly Cornell, made two presentations about the book—one for conference attendees and one for the public. Ben Sehgal, trustee of Sehgal Foundation participated in both presentations. Read more... The Des Moines Chapter of Sehgal Foundation will be hosting a water walk on June 21, 2015, at Coneflower Shelters A & B, Raccoon River Park, West Des Moines, IA. The walk in support of and in empathy for rural women who often walk miles to fetch water and will bring together supporters who contributed to past fundraisers.

Our Blog
Sehgal Foundation installs the world’s first stainless steel biosand filter
The power of collectivism

Development Window

Budget 2015: Sanitation and the Swachh Bharat Mission
Despite India’s multi-decade battle to eliminate open defecation, toilets are absent in 69% of rural India (Census 2011). Rural sanitation is primarily funded by the Union Government. The state governments and beneficiaries contribute towards construction and maintenance of toilets as well. Read more...

Events at a Glance

June 21, 2015: Water March, Des Moines, IA, US
July 9, 2015: Haryana Education Forum, Faridabad, Haryana

Sehgal Foundation in News
 
Giving back to society, ICRISAT Happenings, April 17, 2015  
Empowering Women to Change Rural India, CSR Mandate, 2015  
Two-foot layer of the silt found in Sector 31's underground tank, Hindustan Times, April 8, 2015  
A 13-hour broadcast marks 3rd anniversary of Alfaz-e-Mewat, May 2015


Editors: Pooja O. Murada, director, Communications; Arti M. Grover, program leader, Communications

Acknowledgment: Community and Sehgal Foundation team contributed to this issue.

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