Vice-Province of Majella’s response to the World Day of the Poor

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Care for Our Common Home through Saving Water

The Redemptorist Community at Panodi in the Diocese of Nashik in Maharashtra has launched a Watershed Development project that seeks to save water and thus benefit many people who would otherwise have to leave their villages and migrate to the cities. Now the people using scientific techniques are able to save water, replenish the water table and have year long irrigation thus having employment and a livelihood in the villages.

  1. What is Watershed Development?

It is a treatment of soil and water from the ‘Ridge to the Valley’. Watershed is a scientific way to preserve soil erosion and control the flow of gushing water which will result in increase in the ground water level and help tree plantation in the given area. Various treatments are undertaken from the top of the hill to the bottom of the Valley, treatments like Continuous Contour Trenches (CCT), Water Absorbent trenches (WAT), Farm bunds, Gully plugs ad Nala bunds, Gabion structures and Check Damns. As Fr. Herman Bacher, the father of watershed work in India would say, ‘Water that is running we try to make it walk, walking water we stop, stopped water we help sink underground’, this controls the flow of water and preserves soil erosion and water is stored in wells and checkdamns. Watershed Development is an answer to the problem of droughts and scanty rainfall.

2. The Redemptorists Watershed Project

The Redemptorist community in Panodi, Sangamner Taluka, Maharashtra, have undertaken three watershed Projects as part of its pastoral ministry irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The first project began in the year 2018 October in Panodi, the second project  in 2018 October at Varwandi and the third project began in the year 2019 December in the Jahwar-Mokhada. 

Sr. No.Name of villageNo. of FamiliesTrees plantedTotal Area covered
 1Panodi40200035 acres
 2Varwandi60400070 acres
 3Jahwar-Mokhada.50100027 acres

The area of our work is largely in the rain shadow region of Maharashtra.  The main occupation of our people is farming, their main crops are millets, wheat, groundnuts, varai, udit dal, kurasni, hulge etc. The people over here are dependent on farming and due to lack of rain water harvesting structures all the rain which comes down during the rainy season runs off through the drains in to the river basin. The farming pattern followed is mainly dependent on the rainy season, and there is only one time cropping, and after the rainy season the land is just kept barren. For the past few years there has been no/scanty rainfall in these areas; affecting the basic livelihood of the farmers, the ground water level has drastically decreased and some areas the wells and bore-wells have gone dry. The government has been supplying water to these drought areas for the past three years which is sufficient for their basic survival. Due to lack of water farming suffers and people in search of work migrate to big cities.

3. Goals of the project

Water is the crucial aspect of life and that’s the reason we have taken watershed development as our main operation in our projects. To rejuvenate the deserted land, we first have to stop erosion during rainy season and catch whatever drop of rain we can. The groundwater resource has to be refilled and the soil conditions have to be improved. Through watershed development projects we can help them earn their daily living. this projects will enable them to earn their minimum standard of living, the rain water harvesting structures will increase the grounder water level enabling to go for second cropping and finally it would stop them from migrating to big cities and bonded labour jobs.

The following are the objectives:

  1. One of the main project goals is to create a sustainable income possibility through resource mobilization and maximization like training and motivation programme, watershed management, animal husbandry, income generating programmes etc. to improve the socio-economic situation of the poor Tribal people in this hilly region.
  2. To empower the target group through awareness and training programmes to mobilize and maximize their natural resources which are available in the region without destroying the environment.
  3. To reduce the seasonal migration to enable the people to have a stable family, social, cultural life.
  4. To increase the natural water resources through rain water harvesting.
  5. To develop and enrich the degraded land into cultivable land.
  6. To equip the target people with new agriculture techniques.
  7. To promote soil conservation by decreasing the soil erosion.
  8. To enrich the environment through plantation of natural species of trees.
  9. To promote horticulture to increase the additional income.
  10. To bring unity, peace and harmony. 

4. Sustainability of project

  1. Since the project is participatory in approach the local people are involved in all the steps like planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluation.
  2. As the project is implemented local people have been trained how to take care of the project.
  3. The local residents are ready to take care of the structures and the plantations.

We Redemptorists of the V. Province of Majella in keeping with our Fundamental Priority of the Conference of Asia Oceania and that of the V Province to Care for Mother Earth and in celebrating the World Day of the Poor seek to proclaim Good News to the Abandoned poor through empowering them to use scientific technology, earn their livelihood, have a sense of pride in caring of their land, and dream with hope for a better future. This project follows the ideals of Fratelli Tutti as the people are from different religions seeking to build bridges and work as one family with mother earth.

The Confreres of the Community, Frs Neville Fernandes and Jerry Fernandes have been instrumental in carrying out this project.


World Day of the Poor

In keeping with the World Day of the Poor the V. Province of Majella inaugurated a project “I will Learn” from the Redemptorist Community of Panodi in the Diocese of Nashik where we Redemptorists are serving for the last 6 years.

The ‘I Will Learn’ Project is an educational project aimed at providing supplementary classes for children from Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. The programme meets the needs of supplementary educational support to the government primary schools through a system that does not replace or rival the government effort but innovatively strengthens the purpose of primary education which is to give children an opportunity to learn basic skills of language, math, and social education. These supplementary classes help and nurtures the children from the age group 7 -12 years in basic English, Mathematics, Computers, Health and Environment and Life skill studies. These Children are perhaps some of the poorest in the area.

I. BENEFICIARIES

DIRECT BENEFICIARIES

  • 118 Tribal/Adivasi and Schedule caste Children in 5 villages of in Primary Schools (Std.I-V) functioning in Tribal/Adivasi and Dalit areas of Maharashtra State, Sangamner District.

INDIRECT BENEFICIARIES

  • 5 Tribal/Adivasi and Schedule caste Communities in the above District who will benefit from the outreach of the Tutorials in programmes for Education, Health, Agri-Environment, Livelihood.
  • 5 Tribal/Adivasi Women/Men trained as Tutors.
  • 2 Digital Field Instructors

II. PROGRAMME MATERIALS

  1. Teaching-Learning Materials as developed by Maharashtra Prabodhan Seva Mandal (MPSM), Nashik for English, Marathi, Maths, Health, General Knowledge, Livelihood Related Learning
  2. Laptops for screening educational films to Children
  3. Syllabus, Time Table, Supervision, Record of Teaching-Learning Material Supplied as developed by MPSM will be provided to each Tutorial.

III.  PROGRAMME FUNCTIONING

  1. Daily Tutorials will be held in the 5 villages from 8:00 to 10 am or (5.30 to 7:30pm) for 5 days a week for 10 months of the year. 1 Month will be used for trainings, evaluation exercises for tutors.
  2. Digital Field Instructors will visit each class twice a week to show educational films particularly for Language Learning and Fun learning activities
  3. Programme Coordinators will visit the Tutorials to guide their functioning and direct improvements.

The Redemptorist Community consists of two confreres at the moment Frs Neville Fernandes and Jerry Fernandes. This project, “I will learn” was formally inaugurated on the 6th November 2021 during the canonical visitation of the community by Fr Ivel Mendanha (V Provincial Superior) and Fr Henry Fernandes (Vicar of the V. Province) to mark the World Day of the Poor. Through this project poor tribal families irrespective of religious affiliation will be able to avail of wholistic education and the children through English language coaching will be able to have better opportunities for their future.

Jerry Fernandes, C.Ss.R.

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