Saturday, April 02, 2005

Update 8

News from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India

1. Livelihood restored in a Tsunami Village
2. The Entrepreneurial Development Training Programme
3. Closing the Gender Gap
4. ADEPT-Psychosocial Rehabilitation Project
5. UELCI Core-Committee on Tsunami Relief Operations
6. ACT partners coordination meeting

Livelihood restored in a Tsunami Village

After many weeks, people are fishing again in a village in southern India.

Twenty boats, along with motors and nets, were turned over recently to a fishing village named Chitirapettai near Cuddalore in Tamilnadu by the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India. Rev. Dr Augastine Jeyakumar organised the program.

“We were anticipating this day!” exclaimed a village fisherman. “It’s a great feeling to go back fishing after such a long time. The water was quiet, and I was able to catch some fish!” he added.

The program is supported by Action by Churches Together (ACT), “Without the sharing help of this group of partners, these fish would still be swimming!” said UELCI’s Executive Secretary Chandran Paul Martin, as he noticed some of the fish being shared with a small boy.

Women were not left out. In fact the boats were handed over to them to clearly show that they were equal partners in the fishing business. They clean the fish, they sell them and they help keep the nets clean.

“These gifts, called ‘livelihood kits,’ will bring liveliness to nearly 500 villagers,” said one UELCI staffer. He explained that while some villagers would be in the boats, others would gain from the catch through related jobs, jobs that will begin again when the fishing resumes.

Children celebrated as well. Some danced in local traditional costumes, while others literally jumped for joy from boat to boat!

Local government leaders joined a gathering of UELCI church officials for the celebration, and they all pledged continued support for the village.
The UELCI is at work to bring help and hope in 59 coastal villages hit by the tsunami. To date, it has distributed immediate relief supplies, built temporary shelters, provided fishing equipment, psychosocial counseling, and is gearing up to help build permanent houses and shelters and involve communities in micro-credit programs.

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The Entrepreneurial Development Training Programme

Three teams who are authorized trainers of Entrepreneurial development training programme by TamilNadu Women Development Corporation, were constituted by the UELCI with the help of SWAP(Slum Women Advancement Programme) . These three teams with the specific task from UELCI/ACT were sent to three different places (Cuddalore, Tranquebar and Kanchipuram) to instill strength, courage and confidence in the minds of women affected by the recent Tsunami. This training was arranged and organised between 28.2.05 to 13.3.05 and trained 121 women forming 27 Self Help Groups.

The concept of Entrepreneurial Development Training was to to alleviate poverty and to have economic Development within the family. To help in the formation of self help groups and to make linkages with banks. To make them recognize their strength and their diversity. And to foster administrative skills of self help groups for functioning effectively.

The Methodology of Training included Games, Story telling, group Discussion, Community Awareness Songs, Sharing Experiences, interaction with the participants, Demonstration, Drawing, Self Examination and Lecture.

The Mode of selection of participants was based on discussion and meeting with the people and reports from the members it was decided that few days are to be spent for house visiting before starting the training programme. During the house visit the following criteria for the selection of participants for the Entrepreneurial development training programme were arrived at. Mostly affected needy and energetic women aged between 18 and 45 from both Dalit and fishermen community who were interested in the savings and credit schemes.

The Trainers found the participants actively participating with full involvement. They were happy to attend this training programme and considered attending this training as appropriate.

Follow up action envisioned includes Continuous training, welfare schemes, various skill training and Medical Aid.

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Closing the Gender Gap

Sarojini an 18 year old girl from Karantheru village in Tranquebar is a Dalit girl living below the poverty line. Her father is an alcoholic and whatever he earns is ill spent. So her mother took the whole responsibility of looking after the family. She is forced to work as a maid and is paid little money for her work as remuneration. With this meager amount she is helping her son to study at the college. There is much differentiation within the family between the male and female children.

Though Sarojini is very interested in studies and has successfully completed +2, she is not allowed to continue her education in a college as she is forced to work in the fields. Her right to education is denied. But she is willing to continue her studies and is determined to overcome this system of discrimination against the girl child within the community. During the EDP/SHG training programme organised by UELCI she requested UELCI/ACT to help her pursue college education. UELCI considers itself privileged to be enabled by its partners to accompany Sorojini in her valiant fight for equality, justice and liberation. Thanks to UELCI/ACT her admission into a College at Tranquebar is under progress

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ADEPT-Psychosocial Rehabilitation Project

A National Medical Team constituted by National Lutheran Health and Medical Board, Christian Hospital Ludhiana, Joseph Eye Hospital Trichy and Bethesda Hospital Ambur providing services to the affected areas, in the east coast of southern India from 7 Jan.2005

The Bishop Peters Teachers Training institute. Devanampattinam, Cuddalore has been converted into a mini-hospital with a team of 30 members (including medical personnel, Paramedics and community Health Specialists).

The Tsunami Medical relief camp completed 10 weeks of Operations at Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. During the last week 1135 patients were seen as Outpatients including 5 Orthopedics procedures.

As of 20 March 2005, 14831 patients were treated as Outpatients including 170 in and 70 orthopedic procedures. Also, 1672 patients have been screened in the village camps and 1148 children have been examined during the school screening program. A total of 17651 patients have received treatment through the medical camp.

The nutritional supplement project undertaken up to 20th March covered 34 schools benefiting 3446 children in the age group 3 to 12 years.

Academy for Disaster management (ADEPT) along with its partners continued the Psychosocial training program with the objective of rebuilding lives through community counselors. As of now, 745 people have been trained and they have spread out to different areas of Cuddalore district, Tranquebar and Kanyakumari areas affected by the Tsunami.

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UELCI Core-Committee on Tsunami Relief Operations

The Executive Committee of UELCI under the leadership of its President Rt. Rev. L.G Rao met at Tranquebar on March 16, 2005. A Core Committee to efficiently manage the UELCI Tsunami response program was formed to uphold the interests of member churches with their active participation.

The committee includes the President of AELC, Bishop of TELC, Bishop of ALC, President of SALC, President of IELC and the Treasurer of UELCI along with the UELCI staff.

All the five member churches expressed their commitment to accompany the people affected by the tsunami. Member churches appreciated the staff of UELCI for their commitment and for their instant response after the tsunami. The committee discussed several focus areas of the relief programme and tried to explore the possibility of extending its operational areas and also to address several related issues.

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ACT India partners coordination meeting

ACT India Partners UELCI, CASA and LWSI met on March 23, 2005 at Martin Luther Bhavan, Chennai. Everyone present was updated with the latest on each others activities. The MOU between the government and the NGOs involved in tsunami response was elaborately discussed.

The sphere document and its set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian assistance to improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by tsunami were discussed.

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The Rev. Chandran Paul Martin
Executive Secretary UELCI,
Chennai April 1, 2005