Women volunteers from Alwar, Rajasthan, visit Sehgal Foundation intervention villages in Nuh, Haryana
S M Sehgal Foundation team of Nuh, Haryana, facilitated four visits by cadres of women volunteers from not-for-profit organization IBTADA, which works predominantly for the empowerment of women and girl children at the grassroots in approximately 400 villages in six blocks of Alwar district, Rajasthan. Their mission is to strengthen communities, especially women, to play an instrumental role to reduce social and economic poverty and inequality.
Multiple teams of women volunteers known as Adhikar Sakhis from IBTADA visited four intervention villages, including Patan Udaipuri in Ferozepur Jhirka, Rohira in Punhana, Barota in Nuh, and Rangala in Taoru in Nuh district, Haryana. S M Sehgal Foundation, with support from its various partners, has been working in these villages to empower local communities as well as improve existing village infrastructures such as government schools, anganwadi centers, and ponds, among others. As part of these exposure visits, the team demonstrated the recently developed village infrastructures and facilitated interactions with a number of community leaders who are part of Village Development Committees (VDCs). Capacity building of the members of VDCs is regularly done in these villages as a part of Uttam Gram initiative in order to empower and motivate them to take ownership that includes regularly monitoring the structures created in their villages, along with identifying gaps in delivery of government services and make efforts to improve implementation of the same.
The Sehgal Foundation team facilitated the visit of approximately forty participants in Patan Udaipur village of Ferozepur Jhirka block, Nuh. During interactions with VDC members, participants learned about the roles and responsibilities of the VDC, how the members have helped in project interventions such as site selection for installing solar lights, monitoring of the recently transformed anganwadi, and sanitation units on government school campuses, borewell recharge structures, among others. Live demonstrations of use of participatory tools like LUDO game for the gram panchayat and gram sabha were also done during the session.
Another group consisting of thirty-two participants visited village Rohira of Punhana block, Nuh. The group interacted with women members of the VDC who shared their experiences of engaging in village development proactively after gaining confidence and voice, thanks to regular capacity building sessions organized by Sehgal Foundation in the village. Thereafter, the team was taken on a tour of the village, a part of which included seeing the recently transformed government school, the village pond, wastewater management through soak wells, solar street lights, among others. The IBTADA team appreciated the work of the women of Rohira village and were extremely motivated to see the transformation of the whole village.
A third group comprising of thirty-five members participated in this visit. Members of the VDC in Barota village welcomed the IBTADA team and specifically introduced them to the beneficiaries of government programs in the village, who took advantage of the programs after attending the awareness-generation sessions organized by the Sehgal Foundation team. VDC women members said that together they engage in cleanliness drives once in a month in the village, as a result of which the whole village is clean. All the members visited the village and saw the transformation of government school, anganwadi, and village pond. After that, the group visited the Citizen Information and Support Center (CISC) functioning with support from one of its partners. The CISC houses a toll-free number that provides information on provisions of various government programs, using IVR technology in a local dialect and using human interface.
In Rangala village of Taoru, about thirty participants met with women members of the VDC and some SHG members of the village. They shared their journey of empowerment, how regular capacity building sessions of Sehgal Foundation brought them confidence and public speaking capacities, how they collectively fought for removal of a liquor shop from the village, how they are now connected to each other using a WhatsApp group where they share information related to government programs that will benefit them, among others. They also showed the group the mustard oil expeller which was installed by the SHG members in collaboration with Sehgal Foundation in early 2022, and how they are generating income from this initiative.
On the whole, the visit of the women volunteers from IBTADA to Sehgal Foundation’s selected intervention villages of Nuh has generated a great deal of peer learning and reflections. Shahab Singh, assistant project coordinator, IBTADA says, “The visits have garnered a lot of enthusiasm among the adhikar sakhis; they have identified ardent zeal, among local community members to bring about positive change in their villages, which is a result of Sehgal Foundation’s long-term capacity building efforts at the grassroots level.”
Authors: Nasir Hussain and Saurav Sriwastva
(Nasir is assistant program lead, Nuh and Saurav is project associate, Nuh, Haryana)