SEWA Rural – Taking Development To The Poorest Of Poor In The Remotest Of Remote Villages

When one lives in the city and enjoys excellent health care at one’s beck and call, it is difficult to appreciate the hardships suffered by the poor in remote locations of India. SEWA Rural is an organization that aims at improving the lives of these very deprived people. From healthcare to vocational training, they have been providing holistic development to the needy in Gujarat for 33 years now, and even today, they continue to serve the poor with utmost enthusiasm.

SEWA Rural (Society for Education, Welfare and Action – Rural) is a voluntary organization involved in health and development activities in rural and tribal areas of South Gujarat at Jhagadia since 1980. The activities were initiated by a group of young professionals with education and experience in India as well as abroad. The organization is based upon the ideals and ideas of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.

It attempts to use the available manpower in order to reach out and aid the poorest of the poor and fulfil community needs through various programmes. The focus of these has been the more vulnerable members of the society, i.e. the women, children & elderly. At the same time, it tries to ensure that the values of the organization are well- preserved and self-development of all the people involved in the work is achieved.

The Hospital carries out about 2,200 deliveries every year

The Hospital carries out about 2,200 deliveries every year

Healthcare Programmes:
SEWA Rural offers an extensive hospital service. The 100-beds facility offers round-the-clock emergency services, special care for women, children and people with eye diseases, and separate clinics for Tuberculosis, Diabetes & infertility. These services are strongly supported by a well-equipped modern laboratory, X-ray and ultra-sonography units along with operation theatres and appropriate blood storage facility. Medicines are available in the hospital campus at a low cost without compromising on the quality. Every year about 70,000 out-patients & 12,000 in-patients are treated; about 2,200 deliveries & 7,000 operations are carried out. About 35% of the out-patients and 75% of Indoor patients are treated free. Medical students and interns from India as well as abroad come to the hospital for regular orientation and training.

SEWA Rural satisfies primary and advanced eye care needs of the rural population of thousands, in the villages of Bharuch, Nandod, Suratand Vadodara districts along with border areas of Maharashtra. Their comprehensive eye programme encompasses all components of eye care – prevention, promotion and rehabilitation. Under this programme, Jhagadia and Valia blocks were made cataract free as per WHO guidelines. Under the Comprehensive Blind Rehabilitation Programme, elderly blind patients were given training for social mobility while the youth were trained for economic rehabilitation, and government schemes like certificate of blindness, free bus pass, pension scheme etc. were tapped.

A large number of social factors do not allow the vast majority to access the hospital facilities. This prompted SEWA Rural to commence a project of Healthcare at Doorsteps in 1982, initially for 10 villages. Later, it was expanded to cover 40 villages, and the government-entrusted Jhagadia PHC (Primary Health Centre) was managed for more than 10 years. Such innovative public-private partnership model in healthcare was experimented for the first time in the country.

Cataract Operations are part of the eye care facilities provided to the rural populace.

Cataract Operations are part of the eye care facilities provided to the rural populace. SEWA Rural has made Jhagadia and Valia blocks cataract-free as per WHO guidelines

Vocational Training:
Vivekananda Gramin Tekniki Kendra is another branch of SEWA Rural with a vocational training centre started in 1987 that offers training to about 200 underprivileged youths every year. The various trades include turner, fitter, welder, electrician, environment operator machinist, computer hardware technician, nursing assistant, etc. Ten months of theoretical and in-campus practical training is followed by first-hand exposure and experience of 2 months in nearby Ankleshwar and Bharuch industries, after which all the students are placed on jobs.

Training Facilities:
Many organizations and individuals look forward to understanding and learning from the organization’s experiences. In order to facilitate this, a training centre was established in 1990 with modern facilities for which financial assistance was provided by the US-based Share & Care Foundation. Every year, more than 80 varied organizations and 1000 trainees benefit from this. Various workshops are also organised for the staff of SEWA Rural so as to enhance as well as reaffirm their competence, knowledge and involvement. On 18th February 2010, a newly constructed Health Training and Resource Centre was inaugurated with aid from Helping the MacArther Foundation and Govt. of India. The training centre is the first NGO facility to be recognized by UNICEF and Government of India for training in IMNCI (Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses).

Vocational Training is provided to tribal youth under the Vivekananda Gramin Tekniki Kendra

Vocational Training is provided to tribal youth under the Vivekananda Gramin Tekniki Kendra

Initiatives for Women:
From the very onset, women have been at the centre of most of the activities of SEWA Rural. This concern has been transferred to an independent organization, Sharada Mahila Vikas Society (SMVS) since July 2002. The main programmes under SMVS are economic activities like papad and snacks and garment making, savings/credit programmes, self-defence training courses, education and awareness.

Recognition:
SEWA Rural has received various felicitations for its outstanding contributions for the betterment of the society. These include Sasakawa Health Prize 1985 by WHO Geneva, MacArthur Award for ‘Creative and Effective Institution’, Pathdarshak Award 2006 by Rotary Club of Bharuch, Vivekananda Medal 2006 by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Kolkata, etc.

Your donations can make a huge impact on the projects of SEWA Rural. To know more about their work, visit their website: http://sewarural.org/

Palak Bhatia is a freelance writer with several mainstream publications and an online shopping website. She also acts as a travel guide for an online travel information website. An inclination to report positive news got her interested in writing for The Better India, and here we are!
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