Thursday, April 12, 2018


World Health Day 2018
World Health Organisation had declared April 7th to be the World Health Day, about seven decades ago. And from then on the day is observed the world over with focus on health issues, challenges and triumphs.

Swadhina observed the day with the women residing in some of the remotest regions of Jharkhand. The observance included two segments – an Orientation on Women’s Health for Women leaders from different rural regions and tribes and a Health Check-up Camp for Women.

On the World Health Day, 7th of April 2018, the health orientation took place at Indian Delight Hotel at Ghatsila (East Singbhum District of Jharkhand) and was attended by 30 women leaders from the remote forest villages of Kadamdih, Amainagar, Benasole, Fauji Basti, Dungridih, Latia and Sohda, which are located around Ghatsila. The women represented different tribal communities like Santhal, Munda, Ho, Oraon and Mahali. The orientation was conducted by renowned retired doctors from Calcutta medical College – Dr.Mrs. Sreelekha Karmakar and Dr.Dilip Karmakar.

The programme started with Tagore’s song “Aguner parasmoni” sung by all the participants. 

This event was sponsored by NAVA – Networking Alliance for Voluntary Actions, and on behalf of the organisation Diptendu Mukherji, Director shared the objectives of the programme.    He said that women’s health related issues are extremely important and these need be tackled in the rural areas with urgent attention. He said that this year a series of Orientation on Women’s Health are being planned to be sponsored by NAVA which will be organized by Swadhina in rural areas of Jharkhand, Orissa and Bengal.

Ms Smriti Sarkar welcomed the participants as well as the facilitators Dr Sreelekha Karmakar and Dr Dilip Karmakar who traveled to the Ghatsila from Kolkata. She said, as women’s health issues are not given importance in the family, most of the women and adolescent girls cannot express their problems to others members of the family.  To address this issue Swadhina plans to organize this kind of health orientation programmes. 

It was perhaps for the first time that different tribal communities were having a one to one discussion on health and medical issues related to women. Apart from the learning process, it was also an eye-opener where the women came forward to discuss different gynecological issues which are normally never brought forward within the family or society. Dr. Sreelekha explained in detail the different causes and effects of gynecological issues. Present at the venue was an experienced nurse from Chittaranjan Hospital of Calcutta, Ms. Chaitali Mandal. From her life-experiences, she too shared different aspects of women’s health.

Dr Sreelekha Karmakar discussed about Reproductive and Child Health.  During pregnancy women face many problems which never taken care by the family members.
During pregnancy nutritious food should be taken by the pregnant mother and she should visit a doctor or hospital to register her name and take TT vaccine for both mother and the child, iron tablets and calcium also to be taken by the mother.  If the pregnant mother feels that her legs are getting swollen she should consult to a doctor.  
A participant who is seven months pregnant was feeling uneasy and was examined by Dr. Karmakar. This was a live demonstration to the participating women. 

Next discussion was on Breast cancer.  At present many of the women suffer from breast cancer.  Due to lack of awareness women feel shy to discuss this issue with others.  Dr Karmakar discussed about this issue in details.  She also advised that if any one feels such lump or tumor in her breast she must share it to her family members and consult a doctor immediately. After this discussion she also discussed about AIDS.  How HIV-AIDS spreads, what are the symptoms and what measures to be taken to prevent. 
She also discussed about menstrual health and hygiene.

The programme concluded with some suggestions given by the doctors.  After the programme all the participants joined a fellowship lunch.

Health Check up Camp
On 8th April, 2018 a health check up camp was organized by Swadhina at the Community Hall of Benasole Panchayat of Jharkhand.  Dr. Sreelekha Karmakar and Dr Dilip Karmakar from Kolkata examined the health of 40 women and children who attended the camp from adjacent villages namely Benasole, Fauji Basti, Kadamdih, Amainagar and Sohda. 

Here blood pressure of the participants was measured by the doctors. Besides diseases like cough and cold, skin problems also examined and prescribed medicines for remedial measure advised.  It was noticed that most of the aged women suffer from blood pressure problem, weakness, giddiness, waist pain, arthritis, eye problem etc. Dr Sreelekha prescribed medicines for them and also advised them to visit any Govt. hospital for further follow up or regular treatment. Dr suggested taking plenty of green vegetables, pulses and other natural low cost nutritious food, which are easily available and accessible in the villages.  Dr. Sreelekha also advised pregnant mothers to take iron tablets regularly.  She said women should keep her healthy because a family’s good health depends on a house mother or a house wife.  She has to take care of all the family members.

As a follow up activity it was planned that Swadhina volunteers Yeshoda Mardi and Papiya Sharma will visit these villages on weekly basis with blood pressure measuring instrument and report to the organization.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Swadhina Women's Day Observed in remote vilages



This year’s theme of the UN on Women’s Day was very much dear to the heart of Swadhina : “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and became the prime issue of public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change. People around the world are mobilizing for a future that is more equal.

Swadhina Team very decisively planned to have this year’s events organised in various rural areas of our working area.

Hence 4 such programmes were held at
Benasol Village Panchayat Bhavan, near Mosaboni in Jharkhand State          
Ghatsila Little Angel School Hall in East Singbhum in Jharkhand State
Bhuruduboni Village Primary Schol Hall in Mayurbhanj in Orissa state
Laka Village Loyola School Hall in Barabazar, Purulia in West Bengal State
Here are narrative reports of the events based on notes shared by our team mates attending them.

Benasole:East Singbhum, Jharkhand
Benasol  is a tribal village amidst forest. This is a copper mine area, though most of the mines are now inoperative. Our programme was to start at 9 in the morning. We camped at Ghatsila, a place about 10 kilometres away from the village. We finally got an auto- rickshaw (a small motorised 3-wheeler) which was small for our team of 5 and along with the large bags containing banners, posters, hand mike it was indeed an adventure-ride ! It was a slow moving vehicle and by the time we reached the venue it was already well past 8 a.m. The venue was local Panchayat Community Hall.  We were seated  in a large circle.

The event started with a welcome address by Ms. Smriti Sarkar who is the Chairperson of Swadhina. We already carried with us Hindi handout on the theme of this year’s Women's Day.  Ms.Yeshoda Mardi  a local tribal leader did the interpretation of this simultaneously into local tribal language that is Santhali. Thereafter  it was a time to rejoice. Many women came forward to sing traditional songs in their own tribal language i.e. Santhali, Mundari,  Ho, Oraon and  it was also time to plan out the various ways by which women's lives can be transformed and empowered. The pointers found were -  Women's Education,  Social Awareness,  Health - especially of  Mother and
Child , Animal Care - especially domestic animals since they form the part of income generation in this area and Kitchen Vegetable Gardens,   which can not only give them a supplement income but also can boost the nutritional need of the family. There was a small Felicitation function to honour Ms. Sarathi Soy – a tribal mother. Even though she is not educated she had struggled hard to see that her two girl children get proper education. She was given a small token gift. This gave encouragement to all present to promote child education for the girl child. It was then resolved to open an education support centre for girls willing to go for hire high school studies. At the end of the event,  each participant was gifted two packets of vegetable seeds- a symbolic gesture so that they can go back home and sow the seeds of hope ! The program concluded with all the participants holding hands and singing together  We Shall Overcome in hindi language. All the participants shared the snacks packets distributed at the conclusion. 32 participants attended held on 8th March 2018.

Ghatsila, East Singbhum, Jharkhand
International Women’s Day was observed at Little Angels School, Ghatsila at 3.00pm on 8th March.  33 teachers, social worker, students and Swadhina workers participated in the programme. Saswati Roy welcomed the participants.  The programme started with a Tagore song “Aguner Parasmoni”.  Rina Sircar explained the significance of the observation of International Women’s Day.  After her talk many of the participants exposed their talents in different field of art and culture like singing songs, dance performance, reciting own poem etc. and it was like a celebration - of liberation, empowerment.  At the end of the day all joined together in singing the Swadhina theme song- ‘manush to ekdin jagbei jagbei’ (people will arise and awake)  The meet ended with sharing snack packets distributed among the participants .

Laka Village, Borabazar, Purulia District, West Bengal
On the occasion of International Women’s Day a programme was organized by Swadhina at Laka village of West Bengal.  100 women and men participated in this programme.  Swadhina is working in this area since last several years towards women’s empowerment through events like observation of  Environment Day, Children’s Day, Literacy day, organising different training like animal rearing, vaccination, kitchen Gardening etc. Recently Swadhina organized a Health and Nutrition training and participants of today’s programme were also present in that programme.  Swadhina also very recently organized an Environment Festival named Basundhara Mela at Taladih village.  Many local women participated this festival through them we created awareness on environment protection.  For animal rearing we arranged goats for 40 women.  The 50% of the cost of goat  was provided by Swadhina and the rest given by the beneficiaries. Same was also done for the pig rearing programme.  Till date Swadhina provided pigs for 9 families. In near future many more families would be benefitted from this programme.

The programme organizer Ms Rina Acharya presented a talk on the significance of the day.  Quiz, songs in tribal language, recitation, group dance - all their performance made the day very eventful and enjoyable to the participating women. 
After the closing of Women’s Day programme 12 women from very needy families were provided 5 eggs for hatching for duck rearing activities.  From this they would be able to get Khaki Kambel ducklings from those eggs. 
 The programme concluded with the Swadhina song “manush to ekdin jagbei, jagbei” by all the participants and a snacks packet was given to all participants.

Bhurudubani, Mayurbhanj, Orissa
Like every year,  this year too International Women’s Day was observed by Swadhina, Orissa.unit.  This was organized at Vurudoboni primary School a remote area of  Orissa. 

49 women and a few men participated in the same.  The programme started with a rally from Vurudoboni junction road to parimary school at 2.00pm. Ms Nirmala Sahu inaugurated the programme with a folk
song.  After that she explained the significance of the day.  Local ICDS worker Heera Tudu spoke on wormen’s right in Santhali language.  Social worker Monorama Tudu shared her experience of how the local women could enhance their income by self-helf group. Mukhiya Fudu Majhi and Ram Majhi spoke on women’s rights and they also said that the women must be aware about their rights. 

Rashmi Rekha Majhi said that till date women are bound by illiteracy and superstitions and other social norms.  We have to break these barriers and women have to take initiative to
stand against these social evils.  Some of the participants sang song in odia language. To make the programme meaningful from Swadhina two women were felicitated with a wall clock each for their contribution towards educating their girl children . Even though they are working as day labour having very meagre income, still they continued their daughters’ higher studies and upbringing their children. The programme concluded with  a tiffin packet distributed among the participants.

documentation : 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

                    अंतराष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस 2018 : स्वाधीना

आज तो हर एक को पता है कि 8 मार्च अंतराष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस है. येह दिन हम सबके के लिए बहुत ही महत्वपूर्ण है. इस अवसर पर हम महिलाओ की सफलता तथा संघर्ष के बारे मे बात करते है. हर साल सन्युक्त राष्ट्र्पुंज इस अवसर पर एक विषय चुनते है और उसी पर चर्चा किया जाता है, विभिन्न कार्य्क्रम रक्खे जाते है. इस साल उन्होने जो विषय चुना है, वह है:

समय है अब: समाजसेविओ कि प्रयास से बदलती नारी-समाज गांव हो या शहर, नारी समाज मे बदलाव दिखाई दे रही है. शिक्षा हो या कृषि-क्षेत्र, अंतरिक्ष हो या खेल का मैदान – हर क्षेत्र मे महिलाए आगे बढ रही है. चाहे गांव हो या शहर, सशक्तिकरण की दिया जल रही है. और इस बदलाव मे समाजसेविओ कि प्रयास सराहनीय है. समाज के रुढीवादी सोच की सामना डट्कर करने वाले इन समाज सेविओ को अलग, अलग अग्निपरीक्षा से गुज़रना पडता है. फिरभी वे समाज को बदलने की प्रयास से पीछे नही हठते. ऐसी भी परिस्थिति होती है जहाँ महिला समाजसेविओ के चरित्र पर भी उंगली उठाई जाती है – उन पर सामाजिक नियमो को तोड्ने की आरोप लगती है. पर वे अपने लक्ष्य मे स्थिर रेहते है.

आज दिन है उन समाज के साथियो के प्रयास को और भी आगे बढाने की. 8 मार्च अंतराष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस कि प्रतिज्ञा यही है. स्वाधीना खास कर आभारी है उन महिला साथियो कि जिन्होने दूसरी महिलाओ को आगे बढ्ने मे मदद की है. उन्ही के कारण परिवर्तन की दिया जल उठी है.

लेकिन उनके काम को सराह्ने के साथ साथ यह जानना भी ज़रूरी है कि किन, किन प्रक्रिया द्वारा वे यह कोशिश करते है.

- महिलाओ की आर्थिक स्थिति मे सुधार – निजी नाम पर बैंक अकाउंट द्वारा, निजी नाम पर बीमा द्वारा, स्वरोज़गार द्वारा.
- महिलाओ की सामाजिक सुरक्षा का प्रबंध- घरेलू हिंसा के खिलाफ समाज-चेतना बढाना, शादी की पंजिकरण, ज़मीन और समपत्ति पर समान अधिकार कायम करना.
- महिलाओ की स्वास्थ्य और पौष्टिक सुरक्षा – समय-समय पर स्वास्थ्य- जांच, गर्भकालीन सुरक्षा, पौष्टिक खान-पान, घरेलू बगीचा द्वारा पारिवारिक पौष्टिक खान-पान मे बढौती.
- महिलाओ की शिक्षा द्वारा सस्कतिकरण – बेटोयो को आगे पढ्ने और बढने का समान मौका, महिलाओ मे प्रयोग-शिक्षा मे बढौती, साक्षरता मे बढौती.
हालांकि यह कार्य सुनने मे तो बडे आसान लगते है. पर समाज मे इनका प्रयोग करना बडा ही कठिन है. और यही कठिन काम, वे बडे दृढता से करते आ रहे है. इस नारी दिवस पर् हमे यह प्रतिज्ञा करनी चाहिये कि हम सब इसी प्रयास मे शामिल होंगे और उनकी मदद करेंगे ताकि नारी सशक्तिकरण पुर्ण रूप से सम्भव हो.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Vasundhara Mela : Earth Festival
This is a unique festival organised regularly by Swadhina – a civil society organisation for women, for the past several years now. This is unique in many count. This event is organised by women of

When I reached Purulia bus stand it was a bit dark- quite early in the morning. The bus towards my destination was to start in half an hour, I was told. I located the bus and boarded, occupied a window seat. My destination was Sindri about 50 kilometres away. The bus goes through many rural forest areas and quite time consuming.

 After about two hours I reached Sindri.  I called my co-worker in Taladih village over my cell-phone, and,  after a few a attempts could converse with him. I was told to wait at the Tapan Motorcycle Repair shop. It was a small place and was easy to locate the shop. Here the mechanic named Tapan was a nice person, offered me a cup of tea and asked me to wait. He also assured that , in case needed,  he could drop me at the Taladih village, about 12 kilometres away. 
In about 20 minutes time a motorcycle reached the shop and the rider took me to the Taladih village. This is the venue of the Vasundhara Mela – Earth Festival. The theme was the Relationship between Women and Mother Nature – including the role of women in agriculture. The programme was organised as a part of the women & children development progject riun there supported by TWA/EPO. The place indeed wore a festive look. There were rows of stalls. Stalls exhibiting various vegetables provided by the mother-earth, crops, lentils, spices, household implements, traditional musical instruments made of natural materials – not plastics and synthetics, and so on.

There was a photo exhibition on various birds and animals – including the extinct ones. The pictures of dinosaur and dodo bird drew many visitors ! There was a good photo exhibition on dresses of India show- casing the vibrant colours of dresses of various states of India – once again stressing that despite our varied culture we are One. The photo exhibition on fruits and vegetables was also a good crowd puller.

 The central attraction was a Respect Tree event. This was a symbolic function to show our respect to
mother nature wherein a tree is decorated nicely and women and children go around it chanting song praising tree and nature. They also place incense sticks and candles under the tree.

Then there was a competition among women on traditional rituals like “blowing conch shells” , “drawing welcome decoration on the ground” (alpana/rongoli/kollam).

There were competitions like “quiz on agriculture”, “instant talk on a social issue”. Of course, this being a tribal village, group songs and group dance were a natural feature. There were also exhibits on women’s contribution to agriculture, women and environment.

Then there were discussion on social issues affecting our mother earth like “cause and effect of drought, floods, deforestation etc,” for which I led the discussions. Laduram Mahato, our village vet took sessions on animal care and vaccination.

In all it was a three day of festivity, fun, learn and paying respect to our mother nature – Vasundhara. The dates were 26,27 and 28 January, 2018.

Monday, February 26, 2018



The kids of remote Bondih area of Purbi Singbhum District of Jharkhand and Borabazar area of Purulia District of West Bengal joined us in saying a BIG THANK YOU  to the Garcha Anirban Foundation.

 This year, there was unprecedent cold wave during the winter all over and these area were no exception.  It was indeed a timely help from the Foundation where they came forward to provide us the resources for handing out the much needed warmth-sweaters to these needy children.  These children study at the Swadhina Good Hope schools, the foundation schools set up in this remote areas which are basically English Medium Centers meant for children of the families living below the poverty line and the marginals. 41 such Boys and Girls were provided these sweaters as gifts.

Following is the list of children who received the sweaters :
Children from  Bondih
1.      Rupsana Khatun
2.      Tania Khatun
3.      Rahamatulla Ansari
4.      Mukesh Mahato
5.      Ramesh Mahato
6.      Ajoy Mahato
7.      Bikash Tudu
8.      Sushila Tudu
9.      Surajmoni Soren

Children from  Dhargram
10.  Sonali Mahato
11.  Astami Mahato
12.  Gurubari Mahato
13.  Pratima Mahato
14.  Sangita Mahato
15.  Karuna Mahato
16.  Bithika Mahato
17.  Ronita Karmakar
18.  Tina Karmakar
19.  Riya Karmakar
20.  Suresh Mahato
21.  Biplab Mahato
22.  Subrata Mahato
23.  Mohon Mahato
24.  Pashupati Mahato
25.  Anima Sing Sardar
26.  Arup Mahato
                                                                                                    Children from Taladih Village

27.  Rakesh Mudi
28.  Parbati Mudi
29.  Chhabi Rani Mudi
30.  Rupali Sing Sardar
31.  Rakesh Majhi
32.  Suresh Majhi
33.  Chaitan Majhi
34.  Bijoy Majhi
35.  Dipali Majhi
36.  Manju Majhi
37.  Chandana Mahato
38.  Mahadev Mahato
39.  Rebati Mahato
40.  Narayan Mahato
41.  Bijoy Mudi

Boys: 19   Girls: 22  Total: 41 students (ST: 15, OBC: 20, SC: 3, Muslim: 3)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Promoting Raagi Cultivation

Raagi – popularly known as Madua in the Jharkhand state is not a regular presence in the daily meal in the state. It is however not an alien item, and, this crop is widely used during the Jeeta Parab, held about two weeks prior to Durgapuja when  rotis made of Madua flour is shared.

Raagi has a great potential as a crop for staple food as it requires very less water to cultivate and most of the state being under perpetual drought condition, Raagi cultivation is the need of the hour.
Years back Madua or Raagi was one the crops in many places in the state, but by the advent of various hybrid crops Raagi took a back seat. More over Raagi needs no chemical pesticides or manure, and, can ideally cultivated in an organic way.

Swadhina has undertaken a programme to propagate Raagi cultivation in some villages in Ghatsila and Mosaboni Blocks in East Singbhum district in Jharkhand state. 

A good start has been on 16th February, 2018 when seeds have been sowed in seed-beds in 13 locations in Amai Nagar, Kadamdih, Benasol  & Fouji Bastee villages.
Raagi seeds sowed in

Benasole and  Fouji Basti

1.Yashoda Mardi
2.Mongla Dhani Tuti
3.Lolita Purti
4.Karpura Tudu
5.Sonamoni Alda
6.Laxmi Tiu
7.Sumitra Purti
8.Radha Karua
9.Sarthi Soy

Kadamdih and Amainagar                                                           

10. Karmi Kisku
11.Rekha rani Bhakat
12.Anima Bhakat
13.Pramila Bhakat

The next step is a two day training programme for these friends and some of their interested neighbours to be held in the first week of March 2018 – one day class-room session ,and,  one day hands-on orientation when they will actually plant the seedlings in their plot of lands.  
                                                                                                                                                                   -nava communications

                                                                                                                                                                     - nava communi cations

                                                                                                                                                                          - nava communications

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Every year a large number of goats in the villages in our working area suffer from a deadly disease called PPR. This gives the poor villagers real nightmares for they cannot recover from the great loss when their goats die due to this disease. But we can resist this by taking preventive measures - vaccination against PPR. Swadhina organised several vaccination camps for the goats during this month of February 2018.

These camps were held in Taladih, Bulandih, Bongorah villages from 8th to 12th February 2018. In all about 148 goats and 2 sheeps were vaccinated. Laduram Mahato, Swadhina Vet conducted the camps. About 50 families were benefitted by this animal care camp.

- NAVA Communications