Apart from nature, Daringbari in Odisha has always remained synonymous with the Maoist unrest making headlines many times. The media has often adjoined this to be a part of the socio-cultural aspect of this quaint hill station.
While on one hand, tourists rush in here to escape the burning heat of summer, on the other, an internal lava remains deposited in the core sockets of Daringbari.
Amidst this rage, Jagruti took birth on 15th November 1982 under the able direction of Alber Joseph. Back in the 80’s Daringbari was completely disconnected from the rest of the country and was stricken with acute poverty. The natives went without food for days where the call of death seemed far more promising than the baseless life.
Albert, during those days, was working with the CRS and he witnessed this situation first hand. Moved by the plight of the people, he launched Jagruti with 30
It has been more than three decades and Jagruti still holds strong in its fundamental determinants. However, the Government suspected this organization to be a Maoist supporting club.
When Jagruti shifted its special focus at Bhramarbadi, its workers were repeatedly questioned why they chose this worst-affected Maoist den.
Working in one of the Worst-Affected Maoist regions
The Maoists assumed Jagruti to be a government
When “Wadi” (orchard), felicitated by NABARD, encouraged 697 tribal beneficiaries to
Despite the heating violence, Jagruti came into the scene and organized group discussions explaining the motives of “Wadi” and tribal development. Right about the same time, with the help of the Odisha Government, 100 school buildings were built for the mass education.
The fact that Daringbari has a very low school drop-out rate itself is a mark of success for Jagruti. They were fruitful in creating awareness regarding the importance of education irrespective of gender.
Bringing the Women Together
Right from its inception, Jagruti has been dominated by 128 women organizations. One frequent issue that the women faced was the wrath of alcohol consumption of the male members of the family. It destroyed the peace of the house and resulted in an assault.
Also, a survey conducted by Jagruti in 1987 showed that about 43 percent of the household income was wasted in the purchase of alcoholic beverages. The women Self Help Groups came forward with this challenge and with the constant assistance of Jagruti an “Anti-Liquor” movement began.
Within a year, all the liquor shops were closed down. However, after the government amendment in liquor production, 22 districts in Odisha were given license to brew alcohol.
On Women’s Day, a large number of women came together to revoke this act. The women were so enraged with their several years of efforts going to waste, that the two liquor shops that opened thereafter were shattered to pieces. Although this was a form of brawl the rich merchants of alcohol learned their lessons well.
Providing livelihood options
In 1995 Jagruti started giving training to the women to make dishes and other cutleries using “Siali” leaves to make them self-employed and economically independent.
AMC has magnificently expanded this business house where the women, who are the
It is startling that the entire
The overwhelming impact
The farmers are self-sufficient, without one case of suicide. Jagruti runs about 120 “Jungle Suraksha
The value of Jagruti in the lives of the local people of Daringbari can be felt through their gestures alone. They contribute to a very positive mindset.
In fact, every woman comes to the community meeting with Rs 20 and gives it as a contribution to the development attempts. This system was not generated by Jagruti but the leaders of various Self Help Groups voluntarily.
The culture of alter-benefit is well-maintained where the trainers are served with meals whenever meetings are held.
Rupali Pradhan, the leader of Grace SHG says that she understood the meaning of savings through the sessions of Jagruti. She leads a group of 12 members where they process and sell “Amla” to an organization called Kasam.
“I try to teach the women what I have learned from Jagruti. Savings is
Similarly, the women of “Shaktimayee”, “
“In my Aanganwadi, pregnant women and small children get shelter and nutritional food,” shared Sunita, an
This small organization stood by the people of Daringbari when the whole nation was in the reign of oblivion. It took years for them to adjust with both the government and the Maoist groups often putting their lives at stake.
Photos: Moumita Bhattacharjee
Originally published here, this story is part of the Milaap Fellowship Program. It is a unique opportunity, providing young professionals with a six-month fellowship to contribute to a cause and cover inspiring stories of change.