At present Satchetana is active in Pondicherry and in the Uttarakhand state.

ACTIVITIES IN PONDICHERRY

  • Satchetana Support Center
  • SatChetana began as an evening class conducted in a small room at a private residence. It had only four students and they came from the slums of Pondicherry. We provided them elementary education and taught them basic hygiene.

    Today, we have a support center for about 50 street and slum children. The center operates from 6 PM to 8 PM in a government building. The ages of children in our program vary from 4 to 15. Most students are enrolled in government schools. They are generally quite weak in their subjects of study. Extremely poor, they cannot afford supplementary tuition. At our support center we help them with their homework and also teach them art, Hindi, Sanskrit, French, and physical exercises. There are also some students who do not go to school at all. We give them basic education that will help them join a formal school system.

    The biggest hurdle children living in slums face is the lack of a place to study and to do their homework in after normal school hours. Studying after school hours and doing homework are essential for passing exams. Often, the families of such children live packed in a single small room. To make matters worse, the parents have regular fights due to financial pressures, making it impossible for the students to concentrate at home. As a result, they falter in their subjects and many drop out of the school program.

    Our support center not only provides our underprivileged children a place to study and do their home work after school, but also an opportunity to get out of their crowded slums and enjoy a different environment for a couple of hours. The ultimate two-pronged aim of this project is to provide on-going support to those students already in the formal school system so that they do not drop out of school, and to help those who cannot avail of the formal school system.

  • Parent counseling
  • Parents-teacher meetings are held regularly at our support center. We provide counseling to parents and also to our students with emotional problems. We make the parents understand the value of educating their children. From time to time we also conduct seminars for parents and students to raise the awareness of health, nutrition and hygiene.

  • Financial aid and Disaster Relief
  • SIET provides medical and financial aid to children of single mothers. Further to its mission to empower children through education, SIET also responds to the call of humanity in emergencies like Natural calamities etc. Recently as a result of a huge fire in a slum area near our support center, thirty five houses were completely destroyed and the people living there lost every thing. We responded by providing clothes, daily use items etc to the thirty five families and schools bags, note books etc to our students affected by the disaster.




ACTIVITIES IN UTTARAKHAND

The beautiful mountainous state of Uttarakhand, also known as the herbal state and the energy state, came into existence on 9 November 2000. Relatively small in size (53,484 sq km), with 88% of its terrain mountainous, ranging from lowlands (500m above sea level) to snow-clad peaks (above 4,800), it is blessed with a clean and non-polluted atmosphere.



However, it is a challenge to live in the harsh conditions of rural Uttaranchal with habitations in a fairly uneven spread, often accessible through hilly tracks alone. Although Uttaranchal possesses an abundance of natural resources—forests cover two-thirds of the land mass and there is an abundance of water and mineral wealth— these are yet to be utilized for economic growth. Small scale industry/entrepreneurship would obviously be more conducive here, considering feasibility and environmental issues. The chief occupation is agriculture and services, with an individual’s per capita income at Rs 478.02. And as many as 27.11 lakh people live below the poverty line in rural areas, i.e., 40.8% of the population, which is almost double the national average of 28.3%.

The greatest problem is the migration of men-folk to the plains and to other states in search of employment. Thus, local employment needs to be generated to improve the economy.

Health care and diagnostic facilities are extremely poor, conspicuous by the lack of skilled manpower in the mountains, and people have to travel long distances for medical attention and tests.

Interestingly, the state enjoys the second-highest literacy rate in the country (72%, after Kerala) and thus has great potential for human resource development, especially with several national-level technical and educational institutions located here. However, schools and colleges in mountains, as anywhere in rural India, are ill-equipped and often in a dismal state. For example, science is taught mostly through theoretical classroom lectures with hardly any practical/applied inputs, invariably by indifferent teachers insensitive to students’ needs. And of course, the teaching methodology typical of the Indian education system is information-fed and didactic rather than inquiry-based and inspiring.

The Uttarakhand unit of SIET has been active in the area, establishing the following objectives to address some of the basic problems we have discussed so far:

  • Education sector


  • Set up a network for teaching support and counseling in schools of remote interior mountain villages through student participatory outreach camps with a Learn while serve/Learn while earn approach. This involves:

    1. On-site computer education and activation, course material in audio visual form downloaded from the internet in the form of handouts and CD ROMs.
    2. On-site camps in villages for interactive brainstorming, computer sessions, group discussions, nature trails & bird-watching, problem solving assignments for research orientation data base. Also audiovisuals on environment/ health/hygiene.
    3. Organization of workshops at a central place for school children to provide a viable student participatory platform in a warm ambience where learning would be an inquiry-based enjoyable experience to open intellectual avenues that will stimulate original thought and independent effort.
    4. Organization of workshops for school teachers for strengthening of student-centric skills.


  • Health care and Nutrition
    1. Provide networking with local hospitals, universities, and central funding agencies to address health care and nutrition-related problems.
    2. Organize health check-up camps in association with the state health directorate/ medics and paramedics to bring modern diagnostic tests, hitherto severely lacking, in rural interiors (often 4-18 km walking distance from roadheads). Conducting on-the-spot basic blood/urine/sputum tests through issuing Health Cards (new concept for Indian villages!).
    3. Conduct surveys to provide database on dietary micronutrients, such as iodine in endemic goiter zones.
    4. Generate the much-required database on iron & vitamin A deficiency, and reproductive and child health status to provide prerequisite infrastructural information for adequate health management.

     
  • Entrepreneurship
    1. Develop community participatory entrepreneurship for dietary protein-rich sources, e.g., Tofu or soy cheese (soybean being an abundant local crop in high altitudes).
    2. To introduce several varieties of milk cheese (goat, buffalo, cow) through fermentation units, preferably in association with Dept of Biotechnology, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, and French NGOs.