Education is carried out through women’s groups, youth groups and the local school children. Participatory involvement workshops, meetings and events are organised regularly to disseminate information and encourage people to take an active interest in their own health and related issues. Family planning, sex education for young people and information about STDs are primary focus issues. We have also held meetings about the alcohol problem in the village.
Reaching out for New Knowledge
We encourage and provide means for our staff and local people to attend workshops organised by other NGOs or to visit other organisations and interesting places. In this way we bring information on issues such as Women’s health, legal matters, local medicinal herbs, waste re-cycling and useful agricultural practices into the area.
Nishtha is fully committed to working with the Government Schools to ensure that each child gets the best start in life, thrives and develops to his or her full potential. To this end we run a rich after school programme for children in our community centre offering a library full of books for children, creative activities, tuition, sports and computer training to the poorest of the local children. We strongly focus on environmental and health issues, encouraging the children to show their families how to segregate waste and to appreciate the natural environment.
Between September and March when the school exams take place, we offer tuition classes for the local school children to give them a chance to do as well as their more well off neighbours who engage private tutors to get through the exams.
Nishtha Community Library
Since 2010 Nishtha library has been completely re-made into a child-oriented space and stocked with over 1,000 books for children and young people in Hindi and English in easily accessible display shelves and boxes. All the books are organised into categories for easy access and a book borrowing card system is in place. Children carry their books in special Nishtha book bags to protect them. Regular story reading and creative writing sessions take place in the library and children are assisted and encouraged to read and develop a love of reading. Adults are also very welcome in our library and find plenty of interest from history and fiction to competition success manuals and cookery books.
Nishtha Computer Centre
Our computer centre was re-made in the winter of 2011-12 and now contains 7 neat desktop computers with small flat screens. The room is set up with new tables and swivel chairs with a whiteboard and projector and screen so our teachers can use a variety of teaching methods. The children are organised into regular one hour classes and they love learning typing tutor, MS word, excel and using paintbox with our teachers.
Anganwari Project – Fun Learning
Recognising the importance of early learning, in 2012 we launched a project to look at the local baby crèches (anganwaris) set up by the government to see how we could work with the teachers to improve the environment and activities for the children attending them. The infrastructure of the crèches is often very poor: cramped dim rooms with limited electricity and no toilets. We re-paint, and improve the basic building when possible, provide water filters, fruits and nutritious snacks for the children and encourage constructive play by working with the teachers giving them ideas and promoting our Hindi edition of Fun Learning – A Guide for Crèche Teachers.
Programmes for young people and women
Young people in the village experience tremendous stress in their teens, when they struggle to reconcile the ever increasing differences between them and their parents in what they expect out of life. Our Youth Club offers a wide range of activities and interesting events for young people including sports, outings, trainings, cultural events, computer education and a library of movies and books. We also are full engaged with the environmental protection of the village as well as organising rabies vaccination of dogs in the area and holding sterilisation camps.
First aid/disaster management trainings
In conjunction with the St John’s Ambulance team from Wales, we hold regular first aid trainings for young people and our clinic staff to enables young people in the village to actively step forward and help people in times of medical emergency and to give our ancillary staff the confidence to act quickly to help patients who arrive in the clinic with severe burns, wounds or dog bites.
Our local village population is largely made up of Ghaddi tribes people who have a rich cultural heritage of stories, music, songs dances and traditional dress. Although India encourages it’s diverse cultures, with the increasing impact of Bollywood movies through television, there is a grave danger that this heritage will be lost. We therefore encourage and provide training for our young people to learn the traditional songs and dances, to tell the traditional stories and we have made a set of 6 Female and 4 male traditional dresses in which they can perform locally.
In addition, training in classical Indian tabla and singing from our music master is provided to those who wish to learn in our centre.
For young girls and single women we offer Wenlido self defence training to provide them with the self confidence and strength to withstand domestic violence which is very common in the villages. Three day residential Wenlido workshops are held for groups of 9-16 women in Nishtha Community Centre, during this year. We particularly focus on women from outlying areas who we have contacted through our clinic outreach and single women’s programmes.
Theatre/ personality development workshops
Whenever trainers are available we provide theatre and personality development workshops for the children and young people who come to our centre. These help youngsters who lack confidence to do much more!
Our village ground which we have worked on so carefully is now the regular meeting place for the youth of the village and every evening kids play on the ground. Cricket continues to be the most popular sport but anyone who wants to come and kick a ball around will quickly find a happy group of kids join them. Sometimes groups of foreign students come and play with the kids on the ground much to their mutual enjoyment.
A month long winter cricket tournament is held enabling up to 20 local teams to participate. Whilst cricket is the major sport and attraction, badminton , volleyball and football matches are also very popular. The sports festival is a source of intense entertainment for the village who participated as spectators enthusiastically. The event also builds friendships and good relations between the different groups of society. Girls are especially encouraged to participate in the sports and test their skills and abilities.
Students Sponsorship Programme
The aim of this project is to encourage and enable young people from disadvantaged families, educated in the Government system, who are keen to go on to higher education, and help them to shrug off the restraining effects of poverty and learned helplessness that is passed from parents to children. Our vision is to build the capacity of significant groups of young people to become active members of their communities with increased social responsibility as well as greater employment prospects.
Single Women’s Programme
The Nishtha Single Women’s programme been running under the Himachal nodal agency SUTRA for the since 2005. Each year we increase our reach to vulnerable women in the area and consequently the ability we have to enact real social change.
Our activists organise monthly meetings in every Panchayat (village area) and a block level meeting, either in the village or at Nishtha every six months. During these meetings we draw in single women, register them and hear their problems. We provide information about their rights, government schemes and explore ways they can get financial and other help. We take effective steps to address immediate problems such as legal issues, domestic violence and health problems.
Programmes held throughout the year include celebrating International Women’s day on March 8th and Widow’s day on June 23rd. In order to maintain pressure on the local officials to consider the single women’s pension and legal cases, we hold public hearings so that the women are able to voice their grievances. Already much has been achieved towards changing society’s attitudes towards single women. Giving single women a forum to work for improvements encourages them to feel less isolated and helpless so they can stand up with courage in a group.
The Programme works actively against domestic violence, dealing with individual cases as well as empowering all women to stand up against abuse especially in the family. Wenlido Workshops are a very effective way of providing vulnerable single women with a means to stand up against violence.
Nishtha has been working on a number of health interventions specifically targeting single women including heart, dental and gynaecological camps. We have also set up a regular mobile health education programme in which twice a week the team takes off from the Nishtha Clinic and visits remote villages which do not have good medical facilities. Our purpose is to provide people with health education and advice about how to deal with medical problems as well as some medical consultation. Women are able to ask questions and get good information about their ailments and those with serious problems are advised where to go for help.
Through our teams efforts accessing government as well as Red Cross and Lions Club schemes we enable women to get monthly pensions, funds for house repairing, sewing machines, cows, free computer classes and assistance for their daughter‘s marriage. through the government. 16 sewing machines were obtained from the Red Cross.