Bhangore village of West Bengal is walking the path of development under the mentorship of Weavers Studio Research CentreBaishali Mukherjee
The Tardah High School in Bhangore, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, had only one hand pump for drinking water. With 2187 students enrolled there, the school faced a serious problem in supplying drinking water to the boys and girls. They approached the Weavers Studio Resource Centre to solve the problem. The resource centre provided a complete water solution for the school which included an underground reservoir, storage tanks, motor, pipeline and 8 taps for drinking water. Now the students of the school have easy access to drinking water.
The Moushal FP School of Moushal village in West Bengal was also having trouble with inadequate infrastructure. The toilets of the school were all broken, to the extent that they did not have even have ceilings and doors. This was a serious problem for, especially, the girl students of the school. The Weavers Studio Resource Centre came to their rescue: it has repaired 6 toilets with new ceilings and doors, and there is running water available. Now, the girl students can safely use the toilets in school.
Most of the schools in this area do not have access to a clean-water source, and toilets are either absent or damaged. The Weavers Studio Resource Centre has completed clean-water projects at four schools in the area where overhead storage tanks, filtration plants, pipelines, reservoirs, motor pumps, taps, etc. were installed to ensure clean drinking water for all the school children. The toilets have also been repaired.
Other than providing financial support to impoverished villages, the Weavers Studio Resource Centre (WSRC) conducts training for jobs, and programmes for literacy and healthcare. The centre does work in parts of Kolkata and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Since 2007, the WSRC has been working tirelessly in supporting various causes and assisting other agencies. Starting with the supply of life saving medicines and essential items to the victims of Aila (Cyclone; West Bengal), WSRC has distributed food grains, blankets, sweaters, clothes, medical aid, toys, books, school bags, water bottles, etc. to orphanages, old age homes, destitute centres, cancer centres, and institutions for the mentally challenged.
The WSRC has adopted a cluster of 9 villages in Bhangore 1 area of South 24 Parganas with a goal of providing basic healthcare, sanitation, education and employment to the 4500 plus residents in the area. Darshan Shah, the founder of Weavers Studio says, “The aim is to create employment opportunities and impart specific job oriented vocational training at the village cluster so that the residents are gainfully employed. The goal is to increase awareness on nutrition, family planning, and mother and child healthcare, so that every person over the age of 18 is able to contribute financially to his family. Every person below 18 will also contribute – by being socially aware, hardworking, sensitive to the environment, helping teach their siblings and illiterate elders, initiating change, and becoming self motivated.”“When we started work in the area, these villages did not have proper roads, clean water, toilets, electricity, a Primary Health Centre, a Vocational Training Centre, or any special awareness education for the children in the schools. After conducting a demographic and bio-diversity survey of the area (by a professional organisation), we decided to start work in the areas of Health, Education, Sanitation and Vocational Training,” Shah adds.
Healthcare is one of the prime areas of focus in the villages. “We conduct free health check-up camps for the residents of the village cluster. Eye check-ups, spectacles, cataract surgeries, etc. are taken care of in coordination with Lions North Calcutta Hospital. Mother and child health check-ups are organized at camps in collaboration with Matri Bhavan and Manavjyot. A free eye check-up drive was conducted for 1600 students of 13 primary schools in coordination with the Eye Care and Research Institute. Doctors and Nutrition Experts also spoke to the children and mothers at each of these camps. Two young boys from the village schools who had severe eye deformities and vision problems were successfully operated upon at the Eye Care and Research Institute with the help of WSRC,” says Kavita Patel who looks after the WSRC’s activities.
Adult Education, sanitation and environment education are the three other sectors where WSRC is doing exemplary work in Bhangore. According to Kavita Patel the Resource Centre conducts Hygiene and Sanitation Awareness classes at all the 13 primary schools of Bhangore area in collaboration with Development Action Society. The school children are being taught to keep themselves and their surroundings clean. Awareness on the damaging effects of plastic is being spread, and the children are encouraged to join the anti-plastic campaign. Garbage Free India, an NGO, has started awareness talks at all the schools: teaching children, teachers and parents on waste management – primarily waste segregation and disposal. During the monsoons, saplings of medicinal and fruit trees are given to all the primary schools and homes in the villages.
The WSRC looks after the overall development of children of the adopted villages. “To encourage reading we regularly distribute story books. We have also initiated Spoken English and Computer Training classes for students in the Tardah Gram Panchayat area. Raincoats and plates (for eating food) are also provided to all the 1600 primary school children,” informs Darshan Shah.
After contributing in the areas of health, education and nutrition, the WSRC has recently done a pilot project with 12 women from the severely underprivileged area of Chandipur village. The women were trained in Poultry Farming and given startup support. These women are now successfully engaged in Poultry Farming as a livelihood option. Going forward, the centre will be implementing the Poultry project for 100 women in the Bhangore area.
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