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

VSSM For Sarania Families of Vadia

And miracle happens….

Rupabhai and his family  a sarania family reside in Vadia. The family has been allocated 3 acres of land, a portion from the government allotted land to the Vadia Women Cooperative society. Vadia being a dry and arid region government also made irrigation facility available for the residents of Vadia willing to take up farming. However one bore well isn’t enough to supply water to all the farmers. Hence Rupabhai takes water from the farmers who have bore wells on their farms. 3 acres as such is very small piece of land and returns on farming parent enough to sustain the family. Rupabhai felt that compared to agriculture cattle farming is a more viable option. He requested VSSM for an interest free loan of Rs. 50,000 to buy buffaloes. VSSM stationed his loan and Rupabhai has bought a buffalo from the money. Rupabhai now grows fodder on his land and sells the milk from his buffalo in Vadia. He also remains regular in paying back the instalments to VSSM.

VSSM For Saraniya Family of Vadia
VSSM For Saraniya Family of Vadia

“Be extremely careful, do not carry any extra money or wear any jewellery when you go to Vadia, people there will loot you!” is how everyone had warned me when I planned my first visit to Vadia in the year 2005. When I witness such honesty from the community in Vadia it really makes me wonder why and how such perceptions are formed to stigmatise a particular community. Rupabhai and many like him are honestly doing their jobs and returning back the money borrowed from VSSM. No on is bad, its the circumstances that make shape their behaviour. The community in Vadia need warmth and care and change automatically comes through. Its this miracle we are witnessing right now in Vadia.

The journey of restoring the dignity of families of Vadia has been extremely difficult and emotional we are thankful to Shri. Rameshbhai Kcholiya, Shri. Nimesh Sumti, Shri. Pradipbhai Shah, Shri. Rashminbhai Sanghvi and friends of VSSM for standing by us and providing us the support to keep going.

 

 

વાડીયામાં રહેતાં સરાણીયા પરિવારોને પગભર કરવાનો vssmનો પ્રયાસ
ચમત્કાર થાય છે…
રૂપાભાઇ વાડિયાગામમાં રહે. ગામની બહેનોને મળેલી સામુહિક ખેતીની મંડળીની જમીનમાંથી ૩ એકર જમીન રૂપાભાઇના પરિવારને મળેલી એટલે એ જમીન ખેડે. ગામમાં સિંચાઈનો એક બોરવેલ છે પણ એનાથી આખા ગામની ખેતીની જમીન પિયત થતી નથી. બાજુના ગામના ખેડૂતોની જમીનમાં બોરવેલ છે. તેમની પાસેથી પાણી માંગીને રૂપાભાઇ ખેતી કરે. ખેતીની જમીન ખુબ ઓછી છે. જો ખેતી સાથે પશુપાલન કરે તો ઘણો ફાયદો થાય એવી રૂપાભાઇની લાગણી. વાડિયાગામમાં રહેતાં અને પોતાનો સ્વતંત્ર વ્યવસાય કરવા ઇચ્છતા પરિવારોને vssm વગર વ્યાજે લોન આપે છે. રૂપાભાઇએ ભેંસ ખરીદવા રૂ.૫૦,૦૦૦ની લોન આપવા વિનંતી કરી. રૂ.૫૦,૦૦૦ની લોન મળતાં એ ભેંસ લઇ આવ્યાં. હવે ખેતરમાં તે ભેંસ માટેનો ચારો પણ કરે છે અને દૂધ વાડિયા ગામમાં રહેતાં લોકોને વેચાતું આપે છે. vssmમાંથી લીધેલી લોનના હપ્તા પણ નિયમિત ભરે છે.
૨૦૦૫માં આ ગામમાં પહેલીવાર જઈ રહી હતી ત્યારે એ વિસ્તારના લોકોએ કહ્યું હતું, ‘ પૈસા કે દાગીના કંઈ લઈને કે પહેરીને ના જતા આ લોકો લુંટી લેશે.’ આ વિધાનને સાવ ખોટું પાડી રહ્યા છે લીધેલી લોનના પૈસા ઈમાનદારીથી પરત ભરી રહ્યા છે. કહે છે ને કે, કોઈ માણસ ક્યારેય ખરાબ હોતું નથી સંજોગો ખરાબ હોય છે વાડીયામાં પણ કંઇક આવું જ હતું પણ પ્રેમ અને હુંફથી બધું જ બદલાઈ શકે છે. ચમત્કાર થાય છે અમે વાડીયામાં દરરોજ એ અનુભવીએ છીએ…
વાડીયાના પરિવારોને બેઠા કરવા સ્વમાનભેર જીવતાં કરવામાં જેમણે પ્રેમપૂર્વક મદદ કરી એવા શ્રી રમેશ કચોલીયા, શ્રી નિમેશ સુમતિ, શ્રી પ્રદીપભાઈ શાહ, શ્રી રશ્મીન સંઘવી અને ફ્રેન્ડ્સ ઓડ vssm સૌનો ખુબ ખુબ આભાર..

Right To Education for Saraniya Community at Vadiya

CHANDRA – though his name means Moon,  he shines through like a Sun, spreading rays of hope in his Saraniya community…. A Success Story of Right To Education for Saraniya Community boy Chandra with VSSM at VAdiya.

Education for All by VSSM at Vadia for Saraniya Community
Saraniya Community boy Harsh from Vadia

The harsh realities and vagaries of life makes children of Vadia way more mature than their age. In the year we began working in Vadia life was absolutely in shatters for these community. The community here had zero access to any of the infrastructural facilities. The village school remained close most of the times. The teachers considered their transfer in Vadia as punishment posting hence hardly reported on duty. The parents were least bothered for the education of their kids. We felt that it was important to bring children out of the environment they were growing up in therefore in 2007-08 we enrolled 40 children in various residential institutes and ashram shalas across Gujarat. But most of the kids came back within few months of enrolment. The children faced discrimination  at these institutes. There were some organisations who refused to enrol these children cause they feared that Vadia kids will spoil the hostel environment.

A boy named Chandra somehow managed to stay put and continued with his elementary schooling in Yoganjali Ashram at Siddhpur while completed his  higher secondary school at Swaminarayan Gurukul in Siddhpur.  Later he went on to acquire admission in B.B.A course. After the completion of graduation he plans to pursue his PG from some reputed college. He looks forward to completing MBA and has already began preparations for the same.

Chandra has been instrumental in bringing numerous children from his village to school. The movement that began with him  is expected to fetch out  numerous children from Vadia. He has ignited the hunger amongst the Vadia children to study and do better in life.  The children today are studying with various hostels.  Chandra will be the first child from Vadia to complete graduation and we are sure he isn’t going to be the  last cause there are many following him…

We are thankful to our constant supporter Shri. Ujamshibhai Khandla of Monarch Builders for supporting Chandra’s education.

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……….

 

Vadia – A Sarania Community village with zero public amenities

Mittal Patel at Vadiya
Mittal Patel of VSSM at Vadiya with Sarania Community People in 2006

The year was 2006, we had just began working on the issues of nomadic communities of Gujarat. Where are these communities was the first question that popped up. Absolutely clueless on where the nomads of this state lived, we began looking for them, everywhere villages, towns, cities, countryside, woods where were they settled??? No one had any idea of where these communities had vanished. Finding them was a challenge. They were right amidst us but the society and government had chosen to ignore them, they had become faceless. Just then we happen to read about the Saraniyaa families of Vadiya. Saraniyaa is basically a nomadic community that is involved in sharpening the bladed of knives and other tools. The gadget or the machine they carry along for the purpose is known as Saraan and hence their community derived the named Saraniyaa, the other trades they were sometimes involved with were trading cattle but their women in to flesh trade and that too a traditional occupation of the women of entire village was something we had never heard of, never read about!! SO why would these families be into such profession, didn’t they have any other options?? these and numerous other questions began bothering us. To visit the village and find it for ourselves was the only option left. In 2006 we did not even know how to reach this village because no roads lead to this place. We reached Tharad, the nearest town to Vadia. Here we asked way to Vadia and people began looking at us with surprise, asked us not to go, not to carry any valuables along with us, A representative of an organisation based in Tharad accompanied us as if there was some danger in going alone. We were taken a back by the approach of society on this particular matter. The attitude reflected the mindset of people towards the residents of Vadia.

Male from Saraniya Community
Nomadic Community called Saraniya Male at Vadiya Village and how they are living

Why are the women of Vadia engaged with this occupation is the question we asked to some individuals in Tharad and replies like easy money, lazy bones, don’t like to do hard labour etc fell into our ears. So as we began our comment from Tharad to Vadia we realised that any government transport service to Vadia did not exist. A private transport took us to this village. The dusty, kuccha – 4 km stretch single lane strip of road was all they had in the name of road.

On reaching the village all that our eyes could see was poverty and deprivation, it was everywhere, shanty makeshift houses, children in rags, women in pathetic conditions, dressed in rags as well – it was a sight hard to see and difficult to digest. If there was so much money, easy money the village should look different?? The picture before us was so conflicting from what we had imagined. We began talking with them, never asking a question on what and why they were into this occupation!! We spoke about basic amenities, school, clinic etc etc., but for them such dialogue hardly mattered and we couldn’t be blaming them either, over the years many organisations and individuals had come to help them but no one or nothing seemed to have brought say change in the ground realities.
A resident of Vav village Shardamben Bhati joined VSSM with just one intention and play – to help these women, families……. Rameshbhai Saraniyaa, a resident of Vadia also joined hands with us hoping to find solutions to the challenges his village faced. Thus began our journey in Vadia…..

પ્રાથમિક સુવિધા વગરનું ગામ – વાડિયા

૨૦૦૬માં વિચરતી જાતિઓ સાથેનું કામ શરુ કર્યું એ વખતે આ પરિવારોની શોધ –ખોળ શરુ કરી. મૂળ વીચરતું જીવન હોવાના કારણે એમનાં પડાવોને શોધવા એ પડકાર હતો. એવામાં છાપામાં વાડિયા ગામમાં વસતા સરાણીયા પરિવારો વિષે સાંભળ્યું. સરાણીયા જાતિ તો વિચરતી અને છરી ચપ્પુની ધાર કાઢે, બળદ અને ભેંસો વેચે પણ દેહવ્યાપાર કરે એવું તો અમે જેટલા પણ સરાણીયા પરિવારોને મળ્યા હતાં એમાં કોઈની પાસેથી સાંભળ્યું નહોતું. ના વાંચ્યું હતું.. તો વાડિયાના પરિવારોને આવું પગલું કેમ ભરવું પડ્યું? બીજા કોઈ વિકલ્પો નહિ જડ્યા હોય?? વગેરે જેવા ઢગલાંબંધ પ્રશ્નો સાથે વાડિયા ગયાં. એ વખતે તો કઈ તરફથી વાડીયા જવાય એ પણ ક્યાં ખબર હતી પણ થરાદ પહોંચી ગયાં. વાડિયાનો રસ્તો પૂછ્યો એટલે લોકોએ આ ગામમાં ના જવાની ભલામણ કરી અને જવું જ હોય તો કીમતી સમાન સાથે ન લઇ જવા સૂચવ્યું. અમારી સાથે થરાદમાં કાર્યરત એક સંસ્થાના પ્રતિનિધિ પણ આવ્યાં. આ ગામના બહેનો એ દેહવ્યાપાર કેમ અપનાવ્યો? ક્યાં કારણો આ માટે જવાબદાર છે એ અંગે થરાદમાં રહેતાં અમને મળેલા લોકોને પૂછવાની કોશિશ કરી પણ દરેક વ્યક્તિનો એક જવાબ સરળતાથી પૈસા મળે છે ને એટલે બધા હરામ હાડકાનાં થઈ ગયા છે વગેરે જવાબો મળ્યાં. અમે ગામમાં જવા નીકળ્યા સ્થાનિક જીપમાં જ જવું પડે. વડગામડાથી વાડિયા જવાનો ૪ કી.મી.નો રસ્તો એકદમ સાંકળો અને દુળીયો. એક વાહન સામે આવે તો બીજા વાહનને રીવર્સમાં ગાડી કદાચ ૨૦૦ થી ૩૦૦ મિટર સુધી લેવી પડે. ગામમાં પગ મુક્યો તો જાણે કોઈ શાપિત ગામ હોય એવો ભાસ થાય. આમ તો શાપિત તો ખરું જ ૧૫૦ પરિવારો ગામમાં રહે પણ સુવિધાના નામે મીંડું હતું. કાચા –માટીના ઘર, મોટા ભાગના તો છાપરામાં રહે. જેટલી બહેનોને મળ્યાં એ બધામાંથી થીગડા વગરનું કપડું પહેરેલી એકેય બહેન ના મળી.. અરેરે આવી દુર્દશા.. લોકો કહે છે એમ સરળતાથી મળતા પૈસા ક્યાં દેખાતા નહોતા?

એમની સાથે પ્રથમ બેઠક કરી. ગામમાં શું થઇ રહ્યું છે એ પૂછવાનો તો જીવેય ના ચાલે. જે આજે પણ નથી ચાલતો. પ્રાથમિક સુવિધા નથી એ બાબતે વિગતો મેળવી. આમ તો નજરે દેખાતું જ હતું છતાં.. આ પરિવારોને પણ અમે વાત કરતા હતા પણ અમારી વાતમાં કોઈને કંઈ ખાસ રસ નહોતો ક્યાંથી હોય.. અમારા જેવા તો કંઈ કેટલાય આવીને ગયા હતાં પણ પ્રશ્નોનું સમાધાન ક્યાં થયું હતું.
શારદાબહેન ભાટી મૂળ વાવ ગામના વતની અને તેમની આ પરિવારો સાથે કામ કરવાની લાગણી એ અમારી સાથે જોડાયા. ગામમાં રહેતાં રમેશભાઈ સરાણીયા પણ પોતાનાં ગામનાં પ્રશ્નોનું સમાધાન થશે એ આશાએ અમારી પાસે આવવા માંડ્યા. સરકારી દફતરોમાં અરજીઓનો દોર શરુ કર્યો.

Nomadic Tribes Saraniya families of Vadiya Village

Nomadic Saraniya families of Vadiya Village
Vadiya Villagae

Tucked in one tiny nook between Gujarat and Rajasthan border is a village named Vadiya Vaillage notoriously famous for the trade the women of this village are into. This is a village were all its residents belong to Saraniyaa Community of Gujarat and most of the household follow the traditional profession of flesh trade. In 1963, the government  with the intention of providing rehabilitation options to these families,  who than lived in Tharad’s  Budhanpura, provided 205 acres of land from the wasteland of Vadgaum.  Since the land had no irrigation facilities and the region is very arid and drought prone, farming wasn’t turning out to be a profitable means of earning. The intent behind the allotment wasn’t met. But,  the government has  kept trying but with  little success.  No radical changes were observed. Infact the situation kept worsening over the period of time.

વાડીયામાં વિચરતી જાતિના સરાણીયા પરિવારો..

બનાસકાંઠાનું વાડિયા ગામ દેહવ્યાપાર માટે ખુબ પંકાયેલું. વિચરતી જાતિમાંના સરાણીયા પરિવારો આ ગામમાં રહે. મૂળ તો થરાદ પાસેના બુઢણપુર ગામમાં રહેતાં આ પરિવારોને આવી દોઝખભરી જિંદગીમાંથી બહાર લાવવા માટે ૧૯૬૩માં થરાદથી ૧૭ કી.મી. દુર વડગામડાના વીડમાં ખેતી માટેની સરકારી ચોપડે ૨૦૫ એકર જમીન ફાળવાઈ. પણ જમીન બંજર પાણીની સુવિધા નહિ એટલે જે ઉદેશ્ય સાથે જમીન ફાળવાઈ હતી તે હેતુ સફળ ના થયો.. સરકાર દ્વારા પણ વખતો વખત ઘણા પ્રયત્નો થયાં. પણ નક્કર કહી શકાય એવો બદલાવ ગામમાં ના આવ્યો. ઊલટાની પરિસ્થિતિ વધારે બગડી..