Questions & Answers
About Services of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh in Luther Bhawan P.O. Box 30 Nagpur Road, ChhindwaraThis page is dedicated to the social work of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh (ELC-MP). We believe in living the teachings of Christ through service to the poor and needy in our community. Through advocacy, networking, and outreach we work to empower and uplift our fellow human beings.
We currently run two projects,"Food Security", which assists farmers and "He for She", which addresses gender equality and women's empowerment. Both projects receive funding from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
"Food Security" began on February 1st, 2015. This is a three-year long project to address a major problem in the Tamia Block of the Chhindwara District: migration.
Increasingly, farmers are migrating to cities to find work, abandoning their land and leaving behind the young and elderly in the villages. This happens for a number of reasons. Poor soil quality due to years of over-using chemical fertilizers and pesticides leads to harvests that plateau or decline, while the costs of chemical inputs increase. Rainfall that is inconsistent or insufficient also causes crops to fail. The sandy soil in the area is doesn’t retain water or nutrients, compounding the problem of fertility. Sometimes farmers are able to find good paying jobs, but more often they work on larger, more successful farms as day laborers. Rather than being paid in money they receive their wages in the kind of crop being harvested such as wheat. After three or four months they return home with their bags of grain which the family subsists on for the rest of the year. The situation can become so dire that daughters turn to prostitution to survive.
Our Food Security program attacks this situation from several directions.
In Year 1, we surveyed and collected information from 158 farmers in three villages of the Tamia BLock. The three villages were Lehagadua, Kajara, and Maankadehi. They were chosen because they are off the beaten track of other NGOs and we had a personal connection with each of them, as our field officers hailed from them. Each and every farmer in these three villages were surveyed and information gathered such as the number of family members, size of farm plot, water supply, source of income, which crops they grow, monthly income, and whether they have been associated with any government programs in the past.
In the Tamia Block, most people are illiterate so we act as a bridge to connect them to government programs for assistance. There are subsidies for buying pesticides, fertilizers, and seeds but most people don’t know how to access these programs. As with most NGOs, our project and funding has a definite lifespan. We don’t want the farmers to become dependent on us as an NGO, so we teach them how to apply for these benefits. By walking them through the application processes, we inspire confidence in the farmers that they can connect to other programs as well. Farmers with larger plots of land are eligible to register for a program where they can sell their produce directly to the government, and we helped 18 farmers register for this option.
We also led basic training workshops to introduce organic farming, to teach how to make organic compost and how to preserve seeds organically. We took 14 farmers on an exposure visit to Mangla to view a government laboratory where they developed a hybrid variety of kutki.
In Year 2, we taught 158 farmers and their families how to make organic compost for their kitchen gardens, thus ensuring nutritious vegetables for their tables. Once they developed confidence in organic techniques, we encouraged them to switch their commercial cash crop plots to organic as well. This not only leads to improved soil quality and sustainability, but also reduces the expense of chemicals needed for each harvest. Creating organic compost can in and of itself become a livelihood, as small plot farmers can produce more than they need. They then can sell the excess compost to farmers with more acreage.
Kutki, a type of millet, is indigenous to the Chhindwara District and rich in fibre and protein. It also fetches a high market price. It also grows well in the sandy soil of Chhindwara. We loaned a minimum of 8 kg to each farmer of an improved kutki seed variety free of cost to each of the 158 farmers in our program; more was loaned if the farmer had a larger plot of land. These seeds were returned with 15% interest at the end of the harvest season, enabling us to distribute them again the next year. In the third year we added corn to our seed loaning program.
This year, the third and final year, our focus is on alternative livelihoods. We have taught families chicken and goat husbandry, how to operate a fish farm, and how to run a shop. From a revolving fund, we gave 9 micro-loans of up to 5,000 rupees each (~$78) for starting new businesses. The loan recipients started two bangle stores, two bicycle repair shops, three corner shops (selling soap, flour, pens, etc.), and two shops which sell eggs, milk, cheese, and other dairy products. All the loans came back in full, and all 9 families are still working in their new livelihoods.
Our second project, “He for She” is designed on the principle that men and women must work together for women’s empowerment to succeed. We women need to recruit men to be our allies and advocates to help change the mentality of other men and to perpetuate healthy beliefs about the worth of women and the importance of equality. This project started on March 1st, 2017 and is also a three-year project, based in the Chhindwara Block.
In the three years we intend to :
-Build alliances that bring men and women together from all sectors of society
-Convince traditional leaders and other opinion-makers to support work to end violence against women
-Invite men and boys to participate in the struggle to end violence against women, as equals and allies in women’s organizations
-Support organizations that help and empower survivors of violence against women
-Support survivors of violence and connect them with various government programs and benefits
-Combine mass campaigning with one-on-one discussions to achieve our goals
The first step of our program is to collect information and spread the word about our program. To this end we have been conducting surveys door-to-door. Our goal is to complete surveys of 30,000 households in the Chhindwara Block over the three years. During these surveys, staff introduce themselves, describe the project, and collect basic information such as names and ages of family members, husband’s occupation (the majority of wives are homemakers in India), and contact information. We inform the family that if there are any domestic issues, including domestic violence, we have counselors and resources to help them. With their permission, the family’s phone number is added to the ELC-MP Services mailing list. Each day we send out tips, help hotline phone numbers and other information to this list. Through the ELC-MP Services phone number, individuals can reach out to us for assistance.
Even though it has only been two months since the project started, we have already identified several members of our society who require assistance. While conducting household surveys, our staff met two families with a disabled parent. In both instances, the parent was so crippled that they had to be carried everywhere by their children. ELC-MP Services connected the family to a government program which supplied a wheelchair to each family, free of cost. In addition, four individuals we met through the household visits have reached out to us and brought their domestic problems to our attention.
Our overall goals for the He for She program are to:
-Run sensitization programs with government officials
-Collaborate with police department, women’s department, & other like-minded NGOs
-Make an 8 member committee to evaluate, monitor, and make suggestions to ELC Services team
-Develop and teach livelihood options to women who are being exploited
-Create a small fund for emergency relief-for example, if a wife is being beaten and runs away from her husband
We want the rate of violence to go down (difficulty of reporting)
Want to increase awareness among women, want them to come forward and fight for their rights.
We want more and more women to become self-sufficient, independent--not just financially, but also mentally.
Thank you for viewing our page!
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