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Serving a Cause

'AID in DISTRESS'
For destitute women to live and die with some dignity

In a staff meeting, Mr. Malla Reddy, Director, expressed a concern for the destitutes in the villages. He asked, ''... how best we can motivate the village leaders to help the destitutes in watershed villages.. When the Donors in the Germany and Holland are concerned and helping the people in watershed villages, can't we help the destitutes atleast to secure food with human dignity...?" 

Staff members reflected within each one and responded emotionally to the appeal. Each one felt that one could do something personally to help the deprived. They expressed that 'our brothers and sisters in Europe, particularly in Germany, Holland and Spain are showing us the way. They are our models and motivating us to act one for another'. 

It was also felt that whatever is to be done it is to be on voluntary basis. Then it was left to each area to organize this effort. Consequently, the staff in different areas have decided to make personal contributions to a fund which was named as "AID in DISTRESS'. Mr. Malla Reddy was the first one to announce Rs 5000/- per year donation towards this fund. Others followed according to their capacity. As on 31st March 2004, a total of Rs 57,381/- was collected (Please see table for details).
It was left to each area staff to develop their own means and ways of helping the distressed. They can raise contributions from themselves regularly and they would decide whom and how they help. 

The staff felt that it is good challenge and decided to work on motivating VDC, WDC, VO etc. to assist the destitutes. The field staff discussed the cause of the destitutes with VDC, WDC and VO in watershed villages. They explained how the donors of AF are concerned about the development of people in Anantapur and asked the community, "when people so far away are concerned about us why not we be concerned about our own neighbors., who have nobody to care for them in the villages...?" The villagers started thinking about it and felt that they should also help others, who are in distress. 

In the process, the communities and individuals met several times and efforts began towards identifying the real destitutes in each village. In the process, committees faced some minor problems in identification of real destitute. Finally they succeeded in selecting the real destitutes in all the villages. 

Village Development Committee (VDC) played key role in activating the other committees towards this objective. However, all villages were not equally responsive. Some villages were more responsive whereas others were moderately responsive. 

VDC< WDC, SHGs went door to door requesting for contributions in cash or in kind to help the destitutes. Kind contributions came in the form of food grain and clothes.
To start with, majority of the villages come forward with small cash and kind contributions. Women involvement is more in some villages compared to men in mobilizing the contributions.

 S. No

Area

No.of villages initiated

No.of Destitutes

Type of assistance provided

Amount of assistance provided

Total value of assistance
(Rs)

Committees involved

Male

Female

Cash

 Kind

1

Kalyandurg

12

24

13

Food Securiry during drought

4500

300Kg Rice

6900/-

WDC/VDC/
VO/LCs

2

Settur

10

25

12

Food Security/ Clothing

5200

450 Kg Rice / 160 Kg Ragi

9760/-

WDC/VDC/
VO/LCs, SHGs

 

3

Mamillapalli

07

09

13

Food Security/ Clothing

3550

735 Kg Rice / 100 Kg Ragi

10180/-

WDC/VDC/
VO/LCs, SHGs

4

BK Samudram

10

24

08

Food Security/ Clothing

150

509 KLg Rice

4302/-

WDC/VDC/
VO/LCs,

Total

39

82

46

 

13800

2004 Kg Rice and 260 Kg Ragi

31142/-

 

In some villages, community themselves identified the destitutes. They started collecting contributions after harvest; i;e from january 2004. In villages where contributions were collected both in kind/ cash, they disbursed to all the selected destitutes. The important principle of this effort was that while caring for them, the human dignity of the destitutes must be respected. At no cost this dignity would be sacrificed.

A Case Study on AF’s aid-in-distress programme (2006)

In Veligonda watershed village, there are four destitute women. Begging was their livelihood, peoples’ left-over was their food and village temple was their shelter. They were leading a miserable life in harsh, inhuman conditions. AF staff discussed about their plight with the Village Committee. The committee responded positively and decided to help them live with some dignity. So the committees collected voluntary contribution from the village. 

AF staff’s monitory contributions were also added to that and aid-in-distress fund was formed. These destitute women are given 8 kgs. of rice every month and new clothes once in a year during gramasabha. Recently one of the destitute women passed away. The village committee arranged for her funeral from the fund. The other destitute women happily express ed their gratitude to the village committees and AF for enabling them to live and die with some dignity.

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