Dear friends of Vayam,
Wish you all happy Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Pongal, and all the sweetness and warmth that these festivals bring with the joy of completion of Vayam’s 10th year.
Vayam movement’s 2017 was a celebration with many achievements and a host of new beginnings. Here we take you for a joy ride rapidly running through the wonderful year it was.
1. Forest Rights Queue Satyagraha
Vayam has worked intensely to ensure the lawful rights of forest dwelling communities under the Forest Rights Act 2006. The forest dwellers had only a partial recognition of right over ancestral lands. They came together in Queue Satyagraha (on 27th Feb), forming a long line filing individual appeals and asking government to abide by the rules and settle cases in Sixty days. 2,051 people from 78 villages participated in this Satyagraha. The constant dialogue with government (SDLC) helped and re-verification of claims began within a month. Vayam team helped the SDLC in paperwork, sorting of cases, and in scheduling the field operations. 900 cases were GPS measured and settled before the advent of monsoon. The measuring of remaining cases is likely to begin soon.
2. Vrikshvalli Soyrik (Trees & Water)
Vayam completed its two year project of water for 40,000 trees “VRIKSHA VALLI SOYARIK ABHIYAN”. This year 22 villages of Jawhar and Vikramgad Tehsils of Palghar district in Maharashtra participated. Different species of native plants were distributed to participants. Among them were fruit trees, medicinal trees, vegetable, and fuel-wood trees.
95 Individual farmers planted 7190 trees. Ambyachapada, Doyapada and Kokanpada villagers planted 13,500 trees on their community forest land.
Residential schools (Ashram-shala) planted 3085 trees
- Total no.of trees this year: 23,775
- of Jalkund (small water bodies): 198
- Big ponds (2 lakh liters each): Two
- Number of trees in entire project: 43,000
3. Gramlakshmi (Empowering women in governance)
Women Gram Panchayat members and Sarpanch trainings is an essential component to advance women empowerment in democracy. Gramlaxmi is our flagship training program to effect individual and collective transformation of tribal women in the arena of running a local Government.
Vayam team conducted Six such trainings this year.
Apart from Vayam’s inhouse resource persons, the trainings also had visiting faculty viz. ZP CEO Nidhi Choudhari (IAS), Tribal Department PO & Asst collector Pavneet Kaur (IAS), Tehsildar Pallavi Temkar, Capt. Smita Gaikwad and so on.
Topics covered during trainings: how to speak in Gramsabha, how to find info in GP records, how to read 7/12 extract, how to implement MNREGA, Grampanchayat budgetary planning etc.
4. Ranbhaji mahotsav (forest food festival):
Devicha pada, Madvihira, Kashtipada, and Ambyachapada organised the Forest Food Festival (Ranbhaji Mahotsav) during the Ganeshotsav this year. Over 150 women participated bringing up delicacies made from a varierty of 70 wild edibles. Guests happily melted in this tasty documentation of wild biodiversity. Apart from our urban friends and well-wishers, Tehsildar Santosh Shinde, RFO Kuldeep Patkar, and other government officers also shared the joy with villagers.
5. Padopadi Swarajya (empowering PESA Gramsabhas)
Democracy reaching the remotest habitations in mountains and forests is crucial not just for forest-dwellers but also for the entire country. The PESA Act endows the tribal village Gramsabhas with rights over natural resources (land, water, forest) and with rights of self-rule. Vayam took up this capacity building campaign and named it ‘Paadopaadi Swarajya’ (self-rule in every hamlet). It facilitated the legal process of resolutions by villages and then continued to train committees elected by the villagers. This project has skillfully intertwined the tribal wisdom of community governance along with constitutional form of democracy.
|PESA resolutions by villages||67|
|Independent Gramsabhas begun||19|
6. Gramsabha Jagran (Awaken and dialogue)
2,500 tribal citizens from Gramsabhas (Village assemblies) of over 40 villages from Jawhar and Mokhada blocks came together and raised their voice. The PESA Act and its Rules have promised that if a village is not recognized by government within 135 days, it is deemed declared. The citizens asserted this rule and asked the government to give the assemblies their rights and funds. On 27th October. State Tribal development minister Vishnu Savara, Assistant Collector Pavneet Kaur, and other government officers attended this Jagran and responded positively.
These 40 villages have already started conducting their Gramsabha meetings as per the PESA rules. The government has taken action after this congregation of Gramsabhas gave a memorandum to the State Governor. The government has now declared 22 villages and 45 more are in pipeline.
7. Rozgar and Assets (NREGA implementation)
Vayam has always insisted that the citizens are not just labour in NREGA (Employment Guarantee Act), they are owners too as in their role as Gramsabha members. The Gramsabha can plan the works and citizens can earn wages as well as build productive assets in their village.
NREGA Awareness programs (Rozgar mela): 47 villages
Wage employement: 4192 persons
Complaints resolved in: 22 villages
Impact: Works completed through NREGA viz. Loose Boulder structures, Farm terracing, forest ponds, and roads
8. Shramotsav (celebrating voluntary labour)
People in eleven villages conducted ‘Shramotsav’. An idea that we do not donate, but celebrate our voluntary labour. People in Chinchwadi, Dowachimali, Pendharshet, Muhupada, Khairmal, Dapti, Kokanpada, and Tadachimachi built temporary check dams using gunny bags donated by our city friends. Water shall be available till end of summer.
Dapti villagers also did this activity for deepening of drinking water wells. The blasting and other expenses were sponsored by Atlas Copco. Wakichapada villagers built a Pandal for conducting their Gramsabha meetings.
Doyapada villagers volunteered for mud plastering and flooring of their Community Center.
9. Bin-booka-ya-shika (learning beyond books)
Total centres : 7
Total children: 240
(Highlights) Events: Jungle trail, Bird documentation, Folk songs’ documentation
Jungle trail has been a school routine activity for children. Considering this as a medium, we conducted a jungle trail with some ecologists. This allowed children to have direct dialogue with these experts and share their traditional knowledge. Children made a conscious effort in observing biodiversity in their very own environment.
This event had some amazing feedbacks which we would like to share with you all:
“I had never worked as a trail guide for children who know so much that I play the role of pure learner. The way the kids were familiar with biodiversity carried with them by their ancestral knowledge is astounding”
– Sayee Girdhari, Masters in Botany
We observed that the ability to recognise birds is high in children. After a Jungle trail children went with extensive study of birds. Children used their traditional knowledge and carried out a documentation of birds and compiled a data of all 7 centres.
Children have documented and published a book of folk songs which represents their own world. Songs are actually stories and a mirror of their day to day life. The process of compiling a book has been a learning and fun activity!
We conducted a ZP teacher’s training on how interestingly a science subject can be taught at schools. Shobhana Tai Bhide, eminent educationist was a resource person for this particular training. A similar training was conducted by Vibha Deshpande for Ashram school teachers.
10.Converting Used clothes to Seed capital
Good quality used clothes (washed, ironed, sorted) donated by our friends were used to generate seed capital for tribal women’s SHG (Self Help Groups). Vayam gave these clothes to select SHG and asked them to sell these clothes in their village and vicinity. The clothes were sold at an affordable price decided by the women (from ₹ 20 to ₹ 120). The money generated through sale became their first seed capital. Four groups from village Dabheri, Kashiwli, Umbarwangan have earned about ₹ 12,000 through this activity. They can use this amount for their next enterprise. No need for a bank loan. No need of charity.
As Nobel laureate Muhammed Yunus says, “A dollar gets a dollar, but how to get the first dollar?”. The women have earned their first dollar. Welcome to mainstream economy!
A big Thank You to all our donors, friends, well-wishers!
from Team Vayam; Vinayak, Deepali, Prakash, Jayashree, Ramdas, Prema, Bhaskar, Devendra, Poonam, Pawlesh, Milind, and 2000 more …
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