Description of the Cachement Area
In the 10 km surrounding Ganeshpuri of Thane District, Maharashtra, India, there are approximately 20,000 families or 120,000 people. Although it is only 100 km from Mumbai, the financial capital of India, this area is undeveloped and the people suffer from lack of work, education, transportation, and government facilities and resources. About 48% of these families are illiterate, unskilled, land-less and live below poverty level. They are suffering from easily treatable diseases and lack of food. Majority of the hamlets are situated in inaccessible areas and are devoid of electricity and fresh water. They mainly depend upon daily wages to make their both ends meet, often the most difficult work to be found, brick making. They are unaware of government programs and other opportunities. Farming is the main source of their income but because of only a specific type of crop grown in that area they are left with no food in major part of the year. This leads to malnutrition. Six months of the year, they must migrate to other areas for work to augment their income and food supply. The first priority of our beneficiaries is providing food, shelter, and clothing. Access to education and medical care is secondary.
These unfortunates suffer from the problems of poverty,malnutrition, poor health due to lack of clean water, poor hygiene practices, lack of education, and lack of access to medicine and medical care.
Women living in our area have very few opportunities to improve their lives and those of their family members. They are not encouraged to attend school, become literate in their local language and simple math. They are discouraged from going outside the home. They suffer from poor health, poor nutrition, family difficulties, and all the problems of poverty.
In the outback of rural India, as in Ganeshpuri area, the women are neglected by Indian society. The women in the villages around me walk to the well five times a day to get water. There is no infrastructure for water delivered to their homes. And the water is not clean but usually contaminated with pathogens and chemicals.
Poverty impacts the children as well. In spite of the presence of schools in some of these hamlets, lack of infrastructure, educational materials, and unhealthy school environment has discouraged the teachers and parents and results in little or no education for the children. Parents’ migration for work and recurring illness among children are two additional factors that disrupt the children’s education. Hence, these children end up working on farms helping their parents and skipping school.
In 2001, the literacy rate for India was 52.2%, but for Adivasi tribal women, the rate was a stunningly low 18.2%. There are so very few opportunities for bright village girls to access higher education in their nearby villages. Some parents refuse to let their girl children take the local buses to the schools in the cities. And those parents who wish to see their girl children go for advance degrees and education are limited to due to lack of funds. I have young bright women asking for help whose farming fathers have suicided. Their abandoned mothers try to make ends meet on a salary of 5000 rupees a month, this rarely meets the family's basic needs, and makes education for the girls almost inaccessible. These are the girls we try to help. Probably every two to four weeks, another young woman approaches our trust for help. Currently, I have one young lady who wants to become a doctor to give service to the poor. She wants to do social work. I have not been able to give her anything to date since no one has offered any support. I have two young women who are attending science college so that they can become nurses. Again, I don't have funds to offer them yet.