Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit

Vadia and its residents have always been an enigma for the society. For many decades the women of Vadia have practiced prostitution as a means to earn their living and fend their families. While the society held their prejudice and believed that it was a profession these women choose voluntarily, the fact was totally contradictory to it. As a result of such mindset across sections of society no government agencies, voluntary organisations or individuals succeeded with their efforts in Vadia.

In 2005-06, we reached Vadia with an objective to make basic infrastrucutre facilities available to its residents. There was no pucca road connecting Vadia to the nearest village nor were the facilities of power, water, housing or sanitation available to them. When we brought these issues to the notice of the authorities they always argued “that there was no need to work in this village and with this community!!” Even the school never functioned as the teacher hardly showed up, as they considered Vadia to be their punishment posting. Such preconceived behaviour hindered the community’s chances of accessing even the basic human rights….

Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -01
Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -01

As mentioned Vadia has been mysterious, more so because of the facade it wears, the need of it is because of its extreme vulnerability. To guard their vulnerability the community here maintains a very uptight appearance. They do not allow people to get close to them and neither they share their pain and sorrows with others. The initial years remained extremely challenging for us, we had to prove to this community that our presence in the village was to support them and not take advantage of their vulnerability. The stand VSSM took was to be a friend of these families instead of preaching them to shun away the profession they practiced. How can we even do that when we had no alternate livelihood available!! And why even bother of what others are doing or saying, we had the intention to remain patient, understanding and calm……..This preparedness helped us find a footing in a village where people never liked to visit again. The community members began approaching VSSM for their issues, shared their pain and joy with us, opened their hearts to us, made us part of their lives; basically they put faith in us.. They shared numerous stories with us, tales enough to write a novel…Our patience paid because we had no malice in mind our intent was to be helpful to them as much as possible…….

Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -02
Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -02

Our presence in the village and the never-say-die attitude helped us bridge the gap with the Vadia community. To an extent this also sensitised the authorities who mellowed a bit and changed their stance towards Vadia. A pucca road and decent pucca houses in the village became a reality, the water issue eased a bit. VSSM began a school in the village… and many more such encouraging outcomes were witnessed. The community needed sanitation units and has been requesting for the same for quite some time now. The government aid only comes after the sanitation unit is built, a photo clicked and sent to the concerned department, who laters reimburses the amount spent on building the unit. It is impossible for the community here to save so much of cash on hand (around Rs. 12,000 to 15,000) to construct a toilet block!! The other pre-condition to access government support was the unit had to be in the village whereas there are numerous families who stay in farms and could not access government aid. Hence, VSSM requested its well-wishers to contribute towards construction of sanitation units in Vadia. In the first stage we have decided to construct 60 units from the support we have received so far.

Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -03
Work begins in Vadia for the construction of Sanitation Unit -03

The Block Development Officer (BDO) has inspected the ongoing construction,as this point, we aren’t sure how many families will receive the government support but the community has agreed to give the amount they receive to the families staying in the farms who aren’t entitled to any such government support. Such gesture might seem normal but considering the image Vadia had, its pure magic!!!

The math behind sanitation unit :

Government support APL families is Rs. 8000 whereas to the BPL families is 12,000. The cost of constructing one sanitation unit is Rs. 15,000. The remaining amount will be provided by VSSM, whereas VSSM will cover the complete cost for the families who aren’t entitled to government support.

We are extremely grateful to all our supporters for responding to our call and extending generous support.

 

We are also thankful to Shri Deepakbhai Chaudhry for taking charge of the construction of sanitations units in Vadia. It would have been challenging task for VSSM to ensure completion of the project considering the internal dynamics prevalent in Vadia.

In pic – construction of sanitation unit underway…

વાડિયામાં સેનિટેશન યુનિટનું કામ શરુ થયું.
બનાસકાંઠાના વાડિયાગામમાં ૨૦૦૫-૦૬ ના વર્ષમાં વારંવાર જવાનું થયું. મૂળ તો આ ગામમાં તમામ પ્રાથમિક સુવિધાઓ ઉપબ્ધ થાય એ કરવું હતું. એ વખતે તો વડગામડાથી વાડિયાને જોડતો પાકો રોડ, પાણી, લાઈટ, ઘર જેવી કોઈ સુવિધા આ ગામના લોકોને મળી નહોતી. આ સંદર્ભે કચેરીમાં રજૂઆત માટે જવાનું થાય એટલે સૌને આ ગામમાં કોઈ કામ કરવાની જરૂર નથી એમ જ લાગતું.
વાડીયામાં રહેતાં સરાણિયા પરિવારોની બહેનો દેહવ્યાપાર કરીને પરિવારનો ગુજારો કરતી જે સામાન્ય સમાજ માટે સરળતાથી સ્વીકારી શકાય એમ નહોતું, વાત ખરી, પણ અન્ય વિકલ્પ માટે કે એમને આવી દોઝખભરી જિંદગી કેમ અપનાવવી પડી એના મૂળમાં જઈ આ સમસ્યાને સમજવા કોઈ તૈયાર નહોતું. ગામમાં જવાનું કહેવામાં આવે એટલે સૌના નાકના ટેરવાં ચડી જાય. જે શિક્ષકની આ ગામમાં બદલી થાય એને સજા મળ્યા જેવું લાગે.

શરૂઆતના એ દિવસો ખુબ સંઘર્ષમય રહ્યાં. પણ ધીરજથી કામ કરવાનું હતું એ અમે જાણતા હતાં. વળી એક અભિગમ એ પણ હતો કે, કોઈ શું કરે છે? એની પળોજણમાં પડ્યા વગર આપણાથી શું થઇ શકે એ વિચારીએ અને એ દિશામાં કામ કરીએ તો વધારે સારું થઇ શકે. બસ આ અભિગમે ગામમાં ધીમે ધીમે બદલાવની શરૂઆત કરી. આ ગામના કેટલાય રહસ્યો જે કયારેય કોઈ જાણી ના શકે એ રહસ્યો સરણીયા પરિવારોએ સામેથી કહ્યા. આ બધું એમના પરિવારના સભ્ય કે સ્વજન બન્યા વગર સંભવ નહોતું. પણ ભાવ શુદ્ધ હતો એટલે ધીમે ધીમે લોકો ભરોષો મુકતા થયા અને મુક્ત મને પોતાની આપવીતી કહેતા થયા. એક નહિ પણ અનેક નવલકથા રચાય એવી આ ગામમાં રહેતાં દરેક પરિવારની વિટંબણા હતી.

સતત લાગ્યાં રહેવાનાં કારણે વહીવટીતંત્રનો અભિગમ પણ ધીમે ધીમે બદલાયો. રોડ અને પાકા ઘરો બન્યાં. પાણીની સમસ્યા પણ કંઇક અંશે હળવી થઈ. ગામમાં શૌચાલય બને એ માટે ગામલોકો ઘણા સમયથી રજૂઆત કરતાં હતાં. પણ ગામડાંમાં શૌચાલય માટે સરકારી સહાય શૌચાલય બનાવ્યા પછી એનો ફોટો પાડી કચેરીમાં આપ્યાં પછી મળે એમ અધિકારી વારંવાર કહે. જયારે બીજી બાજુ વાડિયામાં રહેતાં એવાં કેટલાંય પરિવારો પાસે રૂ.૧૨,૦૦૦ થી રૂ.૧૫૦૦૦ની એવી કોઈ જમા પુંજી નહોતી કે જેમાંથી એ સેનિટેશન યુનિટ બનાવી શકે. વળી ગામમાં જેમની પાસે સનદ હતી એમને સેનિટેશન યુનિટ બન્યા પછી સરકારી સહાય મળે પણ ખરા પણ જેમના ઘરો ખેતરમાં હતાં એમને આ સહાય મળવાનું સંભવ નહોતું.
આખરે vssmએ વિચરતી જાતિના કામોમાં મદદરૂપ થતાં સૌ સ્વજનો સામે અપીલ મૂકી અને આ નિમિતના પૈસા મળ્યાં. અમે ૬૦ પરિવારના સેનિટેશન યુનિટ પ્રથમ બનાવવાનું નક્કી કર્યું અને એનું કામ શરુ થયું.
તાલુકા વિકાસ અધિકારીને ગામમાં સેનિટેશન યુનીટનું બાંધકામ શરુ થયાનો ખ્યાલ આવ્યો એટલે એ આવીને બાંધકામ જોઈ ગયાં. એ કેટલાં પરિવારોને સહાયની રકમ આપે છે એનો ખ્યાલ નથી પણ જેમને મળશે એ તમામ પરિવારો એ રકમ જેમને સરકારી ગ્રાન્ટ ખેતરમાં ઘર હોવાના કારણે નહિ મળી શકે એમને આપવાનો નિર્ધાર કર્યો છે. આમ તો આવો વિચાર પણ આ ગામના ભૂતકાળના અનુભવો યાદ કરું તો આશ્ચર્ય થાય એમ છે. પણ ચમત્કાર થાય છે એ અમે માનીએ છીએ અને અમને એ વડિયામાં દેખાય છે.
સરકાર BPL લાભાર્થીને રૂ.૧૨૦૦૦ અને APL પરિવારોને રૂ.૮,૦૦૦ મદદ કરે છે જયારે એક સેનિટેશન યુનિટની કોસ્ટ રૂ. ૧૫,૫૦૦ જેટલી થાય આમ બાકીની રકમ vssmમાંથી આપવામાં આવશે. અને જેમને સરકારી સહાય નહિ મળે એમનો તો તમામ ખર્ચ vssm આપશે. આ કામ vssm સાથે સંકળાયેલા સૌ દાતાઓની મદદથી સંભવિત બન્યું જે માટે અમે સૌના આભારી છીએ.
સેનિટેશન યુનિટનું બાંધકામ વાડિયામાં કરવાનું હોઈ લોકલ માણસોનું કામ માટે મળવાનું થોડું મુશ્કેલ બનત. વળી આ દિશામાં સંસ્થાગત રીતે અમારો કોઈ અનુભવ પણ નહિ ત્યારે આ ક્ષેત્રમાં ઘણું કામ કરતાં શ્રી દીપકભાઈ ચૌધરીએ આ સંદર્ભનો તમામ ભાર ઉપાડી લીધો જે માટે અમે સૌ એમનાં આભારી છીએ.

ફોટોમાં વડિયામાં બંધાઈ રહેલાં સેનિટેશ યુનિટ

Mittal Patel of VSSM at Vadiya

 

Mittal Patel of VSSM at Vadiya
Mittal Patel at Vadiya

Mittal Patel of VSSM at Vadiya when VSSM started it’s journy for Vadiya village of Gujarat.

VSSM’s Early Journey Into Vadia and There After -2

VSSM’s early journy into vadiya and there after — Some Milestone Episodes —-

Here we are with our talk on our Early Journey Into Vadia – 2

• Nobody,  not a single person, was ready to come and work in the  vadia village!!

Water Boarwell at Vadia
Water Boarwell at Vadia

 Vadia is a bad place and its people are notorious, no decent man should enter the village, there are all possibilities that one shall be looted if he enters the village – was the image people have had about this village. There was a stigma associated with this place and its dwellers. Hence no individuals or agencies were prepared to come and work in this village. The small hill needed to be levelled ignored to begin construction but no one was ready to lend their JCB for the purpose, no one was ready to listen to us. Atlast an individual fro Siddhpur, who we knew  as well managed for the JCB but we had to pay double the market cost. No tractors would come, no masons were prepared all the work done was after lot of cajoling and double the cost and that too only when Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch – VSSM’s Shardaben remained present in the village.  Building 89 homes proved to be a herculean task for us.

• What is the need to construct the road to Vadia , the government authorities would argue!!

New Road at Vadia
New Road at Vadia
Our quest  of how to make Vadia a better place and give its residents what they deserve as citizens of this country required continuous efforts and inputs. Every month the district Collector Shri. Hareet Shukla called and chaired meetings of various departments to find solutions to the pressing socio-economic issues of Vadia. Majority of the officers would attend these meetings with a preconditioned mindset: nothing can be done and nothing should be done in this village was their approach. When we proposed construction of road to the village they said,  “what is the need? if you’ll make road it would give an easy access to people to to reach Vadia, the situation will go bad to worse!!” We argued, “if a road comes up the villagers will go out, will interact with other people, will get to know the world beyond Vadia. They’ll understand what it is to have a normal life. They shall have access to public transport  and reprieve from  the monopolised fares that private transport providers demand. Low fares means they’ll prefer going out more. Presently, the community members do not go out unless necessary, bad road becomes a hazard during some medical emergency  especially for pregnant women. They are forced to pay extremely high prices for this commute. Because the women of this village are into flesh trade does not mean they should be denied access to some of the most basic amenities. We are a democratic nation and every citizen has a right to live with dignity.”
Vadia was treated as some gangrened society, and as it with the gangrenous body part authorities and society looked forward to chopping it out from the system. Efforts for their inclusion in the society were none so far.
During one of the meeting the collector inquired, “will these families be interested in doing some alternate occupation?”
“Yes, definitely.”
New Road opp school at Vadia
New Road opp. school at Vadia
 He directed the District Rural Development Agency to sanction loans to these families to help them start their own business. “Saheb, these families do not feature in BPL list, so they aren’t eligible for any assistance,” replied an official.

“The women here sell themselves to survive, what more do you want from them to feature in a BPL list?”

 Later te collector inquired on the type of ration cards these families have – APL was the reply. He asked the officials of the civil supplies to begin the process of issuing Antoday ration cards to them whereas the Rural Development Agency was asked to begin the process of including the names of these families in the BPL list and process vocational loans for them.
Antyoday Ration cards were issued, road form Vadgaum to Vadia was constructed,  a bore well to facilitate agriculture was installed because without irrigation facility cultivating the land given by government was impossible as the region is arid and drought prone. Government had installed two bore wells but since power bills weren’t paid the supply to one was discontinued while the other was rendered non-functional because of a land slide after the earthquake. We arranged for the pending bill to be paid and restart the bore well. The situation has eased a bit, the need for second bore-well hasn’t reduced though.
All these efforts ranged from 2006 to 2011. VSSM received support from many of its well-wishers and donors, notable being respected Shri. Chandrakantbhai Gogri. VSSM’s founder member, trustee and our very dear friend Shri. Liladhar Gada has supported towards installation of bore-well ( as such does by government but purchase of  quality pipes, motor etc.) and construction of homes in Vadia. The long pending power bill was paid by Gujarat Sarvoday Mandal.
Thus heralding a gradual but consistent change in the ground realities of Vadia with all the efforts started from 2006 to 2011 at Vadia by VSSM.

VSSM’s Early Journey Into Vadia and There After -1

 VSSM’s early journy into vadiya and there after — Some Milestone Episodes —-

Let’s have part 1 of  our early journy into Vadiya.

saraniya families at vadiya
saraniya families at vadiya

It all began with one woman who got into the flesh trade that to under desperation – the need to fill empty bellies of her family.  Later few other women followed her and gradually the more and more families began involving their sisters and daughters into this trade until it became a common practice for women of that particular area and particular community. What could be the option to this  occupation??? Initially the government provided land to these families both for farming and building homes (actually they were moved to one specific region as a step to rehabilitate them). The land was allotted but wasn’t marked hence most of the families made their shades on a hill top (cause the land got flooded during rains). The living conditions were pathetic. One tap to provide water to entire settlement/village. Very few families had ration cards. That too APL ration cards through which they could only buy kerosene at subsidised price.

 Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch – VSSM initiated working with the Saraniyaa families of Vadia by filing for allotment  of residential plots to these families. Once the land was marked the families were allotted plots. Moving on it came to construction of houses on the allotted plots. The bureaucratic mindsets, rigidity and completing the  formalities of accessing various welfare schemes by the government  were nerve wrecking.
Saraniya Community House at Vadiya
Saraniya Community House at Vadiya
Some of the requirements were:

• Need money to build a home – photograph of husband and wife is mandatory!!

So from where will a women who has been pushed into sex trade, who is a sex worker, has never been married but has children and needs a building to house her family bring husband in the photograph need to file application for a government housing scheme!! And the officials as if deriving some sadist pleasure would keep poking by asking questions like where is your husband?? Why don’t you have a picture with him?? We need a picture!! (all these even after knowing the facts and we having briefed them about the status of these women). With an motive of upholding the dignity of these women we had made a conscious decision to never asked certain questions that would put them in uncomfortable situations. The entire exercise of filing the applications was mentally exhaustive for us. Ultimately with the help of then District Collector Shri. Harit Shukla and Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment Shri. R. M. Patel’s intervention helped in resolving the issue. The government assistance towards construction was sanctioned following which we initiated the process of constructing homes. Hence emerged another issue…

• Nobody,  not a single person, was ready to come and work in the village!!

To be Continute in next post……….

 

Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch – VSSM

VichartaSamudaaySamarthanManch –VSSM, is a collective platform of members from Nomadic (Vicharata) and De-Notified (Vimukht) Tribes (Samudaay), individuals and organizations’ empathizing with these communities. VSSM as a collective was initiated in the year 2006 and was formally registered as an organization in the year 2010, with the mission to give social identity, citizen’s rights, education, health facilities, housing and livelihood options to the various communities of Nomadic and De-Notified Tribes (NT-DNTs).

VSSM use below mention tools to fullfill its vision ” The Communities of Nomadic and De-Notified Tribes Atten And Lead A Life With Dignity.

VSSM’s activities are spreaded across 47 blocks of 9 districts of Gujarat. Below are the Districts where VSSM is working and having its presence.

  • Patan
  • Mehsana
  • Amreli
  • Rajkot
  • Ahmedabad
  • Sabarkantha
  • Surendranagar
  • Banaskantha
  • Gandhinagar

This blog is dedicated for VSSM at Vadiya Village for Sarania Community of Gujarat. We are going to share how was the Vadiya when we visited first time and than after our journy till today. We is representing Mittal Patel and its all Team.