During 2008, SONIA added this initiative to those that it has been supporting since several years. In 2007, a local NGO, established a school where 230 young Mushahar children receive one meal per day, a dress and a very basic education. One of SONIA’s member had, on her own, raised funds to buy a piece of land to build a very modest school, latrines and to contribute to the school’s operating costs. Later on, she asked SONIA to “adopt” this worthwhile project. The Board of SONIA accepted this offer most willingly and thus we are contributing to its future development. With the assistance of some Indian friends and the voluntary contribution of the social activists trained by the local NGO (SDF), the school has been better equipped and other activities in support of the families of the Malwabar village have been realized.
After three years, the results were impressive: in the space where children gathered in the dust, now there is a school that is also utilized as a gathering place for the activists of the social movement promoted by SDF. A collective field is cultivated by the members of the community to contribute to the school feeding programme. The health of the children and their nutritional status are monitored on a monthly basis by the teachers who have been trained accordingly. Every Saturday the children gather for a “talent camp”, where every one of them can participate in their preferred activities (sports, arts, etc).
The school has become a development centre for the entire community. Other activities aimed at the economic empowerment of the households have been initiated. Thanks to the initiatives of the social activists, the Malwabar village has been linked to the government electric grid system. This is a big achievement, in the past the justification for not connecting it to the grid system being the stigma and the prejudice according to which such communities would have never been able to pay for this service. Thanks to the electricity connection, the school will be able to project educational films and videos and to launch a computer training programme for the children and adolescents in the village.
The achievements of this initiative have attracted the interest of the media and of research centres in India and abroad.
The new objective is to make Malwabar an attraction pole for those who want to study and share an alternative itinerary for community development, which has as a starting point meeting the needs of the most vulnerable sectors – the children – to build a better future for all.
For more information visit : http://malwabarchildren.blogspot.it/
In 2011 the center was further enlarged and became a training center for rural development and a magnet for social activists who are interested in a closer look at how to tackle the complicated issues of caste, gender and efficiency of government anti-poverty schemes in rural communities and among the most marginalized and discriminated against as the Mushahars. The role of the centre as a magnet for social activists continued to increase in 2012: the centre is now used by the Mushahar for their community meetings and a large library recently created is well used, mostly by Mushahar and Dalit youth from nearby villages. Moreover, 30 young activists attended a training course and, at the end of December, the centre organized a big festival for all their social activists and the population at large. For two days meetings were held; there was also music, singing, dances and evening celebrations on the “humanist culture” promoted by the centre.