CA Subhajit Sahoo is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a Philomath ; ever desirous with a seeking spirit to learn from environment and people he come across. Since his initial days as a Chartered Accountant, he was associated with many Charities as auditors. While visiting their project areas he observed the reflection of figures on the papers before me was not the same in the life of the beneficiaries. Instead of feeling guilty he wished to do something on his own for these people in a tribal village in Jharkhand.
The journey started from a small tribal dominated village Kashidih in the Patamda Block of East Singhbhum District of a newly formed state in Jharkhand. The children in the village had no access to quality education & health facility. Over and above poverty was the part and parcel of life of the families as collection of forest products and selling them in the nearby markets was the only possible livelihood opportunity. Few families lead a good life by making country liquor and selling the same in the nearby Hatia through their children. Young boys of the family were sent to set fire in the forest before it poured heavily in the night and the daughters of the family accompanied their mothers to cut the half-burnt trees the next day. The wood collected were sold in the nearby market to manage the food for as the male member of the family was drunk whole day.
The lady of the family was abused by the drunkard husband when she opposed to let her young son carry the liquor bottles to the market or to save her young daughter being abused in the forest when she went to collect the wood. The ladies had no say in the family matters as they never contributed to the family income. The life of the elders of the family was in distress and they suffered the most without any proper food and clothing as they were felt as a burden to the family. The girls got married at the early age of 15-16years and became mother at the age of 17-18years when they were not even eligible to cast their votes.
The situations were alarming when the thought came into his mind to initiate a process for the wholistic development of the lives of these families and under one umbrella and “ASSRA” literally meaning “The Shelter” was formally registered in the year 2001 as a Society.
The initiatives taken by ASSRA are based on the “5E” approach i.e. Education, Employment, Empowerment, Environment & Eradication of Social Evils. ASSRA has also tried to bring gender-based equanimity in many villages of Odisha and Jharkhand by further promoting self-dependency in women in the years that followed.
They started one centre to impart quality education and vocational training in the village Kashidih on a land which he bought using his savings till that date. The one centre which started with 7 young girls and their mothers who underwent various vocational trainings under the able guidance of ASSRA reached a number of 261 students and 9 centres in the state of Jharkhand. Few centres were opened in Odisha & in Delhi. One village which ASSRA adopted in Odisha inside a Sanctuary has become a model village.
The ladies of the families were respected & lead a dignified live and had a say in the family matters as they contributed to the family income handsomely by selling the produce in the cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar & Jamshedpur when ASSRA provided the platform through it’s networks. The monthly pension schemes for the elderly were initiated through bank transfers. Periodic health checks up camps were conducted at all the villages.
The need for support to the government and its agencies in ensuring public health has been actively taken up by ASSRA considering the corona outbreak in March,2020. The pandemic is a hazard, has created a ripple effect of troubles for people of different statuses in society. ASSRA has taken several steps to render support to the migrant labourers when they walked back to their villages from the bigger cities. As immediate relief assistance, ASSRA provided them with food packets. At some places, even night shelters were arranged. Gradually with the reduction in the number of traveling migrants, calls started dropping in for need of grocery and food items. To address these requirements, digital payment for groceries of needy people began. At some places like Patamda Block, East Singhbhum, Hazaribagh districts in Jharkhand & Kandelei in Khurda District in Odisha food items were delivered to local needy people after obtaining due permission. With some local positive support, we managed to support about 1500 migrant labourer families from Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, UP & MP stranded in Jammu and Kashmir by distributing groceries among them. ASSRA through one of its projects “Hope is Life” which mainly aims at spreading peace & happiness in the families and communities in the Tribal dominated area like Raigada and Muniguda supported about 2500 families through groceries for over a month. Funds were raised to provide Ambulances in Odisha and New Delhi.
As part of their action plan, ASSRA initiated a helpline number (9999054918) to reach as many people as they can. Over a span of 1 month, ASSRA managed to cover almost 18 states that included West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Delhi, Odisha, MP, UP, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Jammu, Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Andhra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Assam & Meghalaya. ASSRA directly reached to those who are in need. The satisfactory smiles on faces seem to have guided ASSRA’s efforts all through this and ASSRA continues to strive for more.
Amidst all the pandemic, there are several other depressing conditions. But ASSRA made all possible attempts to prove the worth of its name. Apart from distributing groceries, tribal youth are being involved in different activities like training, initiating cottage industries, raising livestock, promoting need-based farming, etc. On last 15th August, about 37 families came together in the Godipada Village of Jankia, Khorda in Odisha to start the livelihood project involving agriculture. The village land which was barren for many years was used for agriculture. Various vegetable saplings have been planted which will be ready for market within 2 months. The effort bears the fruit in exactly two months when the villagers sold the first crop on 24th of October,2020. ASSRA is providing aid in channelizing the locally made products to market as well. No stone is being left unturned in helping people return to their normal lives. Many unemployed youths of nearby villages have started such agricultural activities with the support from ASSRA.
20 women of migrant laborers family came together in two groups in Godipada & Satopada village to start their unit of packed snacks with the support from ASSRA and with continued demand of the same in the market have also encouraged many such families in the nearby villages in Khurda & Puri districts of Odisha.
The Bihar & Odisha floods or FANI or YASS cyclone witnessed proactive untiring involvement of the team members who came forward to help more than 1100 families in need in many flood & cyclones affected districts of Bihar & Odisha
IFSC CODE : KKBK0000203
MICR No.: 110485046
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