RIGHTS BASED PROGRAMMES
The unorganised / informal sector labourers are the main work force of Indian economy but have many threats like insufficient labour laws, lack of social security, no guaranteed minimum wages, exploitation for children, harassment of women and vulnerability to diseases
VMMK has organized more than 15,000 unorganised labourers including construction workers, street vendors, coolies, domestic workers, match & fireworks factory workers and others. VMMK helped them to form a Trade Union called 'UDEYAM' for the protection of their rights and to avail the Government social welfare schemes such as maternity benefits, death/accident compensations, monetary support for marriages, education of their children, etc., Members of the trade union are empowered through provision of awareness and capacity building training programmes on human rights, leadership, networking and advocacy. VMMK also supports them with necessary legal aids. As a result of which there had been a significant reduction of migration and child labor incidence rate. UDEYAM coordinated by VMMK was supported by the Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF), Norway which acknowledges that this time tested model can be replicated to other parts as a development approach. VMMK is planning to replicate this model to among its partners in Odhisa Network.
VMMK has been working with the LGBT community for protecting their rights, helping them access social security measures and for promoting their livelihood.
Vulnerability poses a threat to them in the form of social stigma, discrimination by their family and the society, sexual harassment resulting in marginalizing them from the mainstream. VMMK has mobilized, organized them into groups, providing counseling, healthcare and legal support services and helped them with their job initially with the support of HIVOS, Netherland.
About 12 special SHGs have been formed for TGs with 176 members and VMMK works with them closely and helps them access Government benefits and also offers counseling to them in issues affecting their lives.
Child Labour Protection & Rights
Child labour is one of the key issues in this district with many match & fireworks industries opting to employ children in their factories. VMMK over the years has rescued more than thousand child labourers and put them back into the special schools established in the district and providing them with quality education, noon meal and uniform with the support of National Child Labour Project (NCLP).
VMMK established 20 special schools under International Labour Organization's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC) project and rescued 1,500 child labourers and provided them education. Of the 1,500 children, they rescued about 1,325 and linked them with mainstream schools for their education. Some of them have completed their graduation from Arts & Science colleges.
VMMK established 11 special schools under Indo - US Child Labour Project (INDUS). About 1,245 child labourers were rescued and provided education at the INDUS special schools. Further 860 children were sent for higher education linked with mainstream schools. Under this scheme all children were provided with quality accommodation, nutritious food, education materials, uniform, chappals and school bags besides providing education which encourages them to continue their studies further.
Residential Training Facility for Children
Residential Special Training Centres are organized to cover children who had never got enrolled in schools before, school drop-outs, street children, migrant children, nomadic children, child labourers and children from tribal areas. This programme initiated by 'Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)' meaning 'Education for All' by the Government and implemented through the local NGOs who work for child development. VMMK has been given four such centres in this district to administer/manage them fully with the funding support of the government.
About 1,500 children have been admitted and have got education through these schools in the past 6 years. Of them, about 850 children have been admitted to mainstream schools for pursuing their higher education.
Kasturiba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya School for Girls
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) is a project of SSA mission to cover out-of-school girl children in the age group 11-14 years. Children in Juvenile homes under social welfare department are also covered through this initiative.
The objective of KGBV is to ensure access to quality education to the girls of disadvantaged groups of society by setting up residential schools with boarding facilities at elementary level. VMMK being a prominent NGO working for women and child development was requested to manage a KGBV school at Narikudi block of Virudhunagar district where about 50 rural, poor, disadvantaged single parent girl children are enrolled. They are given quality education along with food and accommodation. This has made them keen continue their education and show interest to pursue their higher education through mainstream schools.
Partnering with AID INDIA, VMMK has established 50 libraries with each having 50 books initially in their 50 working villages. About 1,000 children are reading books daily in these rural libraries or the knowledge dissemination centers run with the support of the local community volunteers. The books are mainly of moral stories, practical sciences and socio-cultural books. Though started with donor support, now continuing this initiative on its own with an intention to inculcate the reading habit in the rural children and youth, and to assist them in enhancing their knowledge as they grow, to become confident, competent, and caring individuals.
VMMK is running a community college affiliated to National Council for Vocational Research and Training (NCVRT) providing skill / vocational training to adolescent girls and youth. Garment making, computer literacy, agriculture oriented subjects are some of the training programmes offered by the Community college. To date 245 students have been trained by the college.
This programme is to impart functional literacy to adult women who are illiterates, especially those engaged in Manual Scavenging. VMMK has trained them to sign their names. About 100 persons have completed this literacy module and they are able to read and write to some extent and also put their signature.
Thalir Thiran Thittam (TTT)
VMMK implemented the Thalir Thiran Thittam (TTT), a life skills training for secondary school students in Tamil Nadu, India to equip them with the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed in work and in life. About 220 children were given this training and this Programme was implemented in 30 districts in Tamilnadu by NGO Partners of Aparajitha Foundation.
HIV/AIDS programme for Women, Children, Transgender and MSM
Given their vulnerability to sexual abuse and the resultant exposure to HIV/AIDS, VMMK has initiated a focused programme on HIV/AIDS covering the Transgender people, MSM's, Women and Children with the support of TNSACS and ABBOTT Laboratories.
VMMK has implemented Community Based Care and Support (CBCS) for women and children infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. Through this programme VMMK covered women and children who are living with HIV/AIDS and their blood relations (brothers and sisters) offering them nutrition food, education, health related activities and medicines with the support of PWDS. Following activities were carried out in 54 villages in 6 blocks of Virudhunagar to prevent HIV/AIDS:
Target Interventions for MSM
VMMK is implementing project for MSM with the support of TANSACS, Chennai. Having identified 1,500 Vulnerable MSMs in 11 Blocks of Virudhunagar district, following services are given to them.
Besides the above activities VMMK also offers the following services to them:
Reproductive Health Awareness Programme
Reproductive Health issues of adolescent girls and young married women are of high concern given their vulnerability and exposure. VMMK conducts awareness programme on reproductive health problems, pain in the breast, excessive discharge, urinary tract infection and problem of infertility for this group so as to ensure that they are aware of their health problems and are able to seek early health care.
TB Action Awareness Programme - Axshya Project
Health Monitoring for TB Patients was carried out with the support of Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI). This programme was aimed at strengthening TB care and control by carrying out activities like empowerment of community groups through awareness campaigns and educating the TB patients to properly maintain their health on a regular basis. Awareness programmes on health, medication and sputum collection for lab testing were the key activities in this effort. According to the lab test the patients were classified for further treatment and follow-up. Oral tablets were issued to TB patients by volunteers from the women groups and unorganized sector women labourers. The innovative initiative of District TB Forum under the project has given a platform to voice the needs and challenges of the affected community. About 500 TB patients were covered and they are given RNTCP Tablets regularly by VMMK volunteers.
At present using the local volunteers, VMMK is engaging patients affected with TB by referring them to the Government General Hospitals for treatment, and also providing the medicines through the volunteers.
SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMMES
Discrimination against women is often made worse when they belong to more than one disadvantaged group because of their sexual identity, income, race, ethnicity, caste, religion, class or age.
Family Counseling Center
The Family Counseling Centre (FCC) works in close collaboration with local institutions like police department and Short Stay Homes and is expected to intervene in 'crisis' cases and in cases of atrocities against women. Under the FCC scheme, counseling, referral and rehabilitative services are offered free of charge to women victims who are in moral danger within the family or society at large.
VMMK has set up FCC in the year 2006 approved by the Tamilnadu State Social Welfare Board and organising awareness programmes for school children, women SHGs about their services and does mobile counseling every week to a remote rural village organised by the local police.
It has provided counseling and rehabilitation support to nearly 5,000 people during ten years. Mainly counseled and addressed Transgender issues and women issues (dowry and harassment).
Short Stay Home for Women
VMMK set up Short Stay Home (SSH) for women and their children in the year 2002 with the support from Tamilnadu State Social Welfare Board. Effort is to protect and rehabilitate those women and girls who are facing social, economic and emotional problems due to family issues, mental stress, social ostracism, exploitation or other causes, including situations where they are forced into prostitution and are in moral danger.
They are given temporary shelter, food, and counselling and rehabilitation service by a trained counselor. Educational support to their children and skill development training to the affected women is given as part of this service. More than 625 women have benefited from this short stay home.
Integrated Complex of Special Homes for Senior Citizen & Destitute Children
The purpose of this program is to ensure that the elders and the destitute children are provided with quality care and protection. VMMK started a home facility in the year 2012 to look after the elderly and the destitute children. They are provided free accommodation, food, health care and entertainment. So far, 138 elderly people and about 70 destitute children have benefited through this initiative.
VMMK is running two creches for the children of ailing mothers and working women. 50 children are admitted to these creches and are provided with free nutritious food, life skills and health care by the experienced and trained staff. These creches are being supported by Central Social Welfare Board, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board, Chennai.
Self Help Groups (SHGs)
VMMK has organized 112 women SHGs with 1, 650 members; 12 special SHGs for TGs with 176 TGs; and 16 special SHGs for differently abled persons with 217 members. To date VMMK has facilitated the SHG members to receive Rs. 20 Million (Rs. 2 Crores) as micro credit loan for their start up initiatives. So far about 1,000 members have benefitted through this resulting in their incomes increasing substantially and improvement to their quality of life.
Entrepreneurship Development Initiatives
With the support of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural development (NABARD) and Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS), VMMK conducted Micro Entrepreneurship Development Programmes (MEDP), Rural Entrepreneurship Development programmes (REDP) to the rural women and youth. Under this programme about 500 persons were trained of which more than 60% have started doing their own businesses.
VMMK has been offering job oriented skill development programmes to rural women and adolescent girls for more than two decades. Skill trainings offered include: Tailoring, Embroidery, Computer literacy, Toy making, Dry washing, Plumbing etc.,
So far more than 5,000 women and adolescent girls have benefited from these skill trainings and have started their own businesses or got placed in organizations as salaried employees.
Natural Resource Management
VMMK succeeded in raising awareness among younger generation about NRM. With motivation the youth of Kunthalapatti village cleaned the local water bodies. After this intervention the water storage capacity of this water body has increased and the availability of clean water to the community is ensured.
National Environment Awareness Campaign Program for School Children & Parents, supported by Peace Trust, Dindigul was conducted for 3 years. Awareness about biodiversity conservation was provided to the target community. Tree and herbal plants planting was conducted in School campus, panchayat land and temples.
VMMK conducted 'Plastic Free Village' campaign in five villages. Children and girls were involved in cleaning the village and collected the plastic waste. They were oriented on how plastic can be recycled and IEC materials were distributed to the village people to make sure they avoid the use of plastic carry bag in their houses, shops, and hotel and in other public places. VMMK lobbied with the local Panchayat and ensured that they pass a resolution in the panchayat agenda for banning the usage of plastic bags within their panchayat area.
VMMK conducted awareness camp on organic farming and sustainable agriculture among many young farmers in Virudhunagar block. Agricultural scientists from Tamilnadu Agriculture University and District Agriculture department participated in these programmes.
Virudhunagar is one of the drought prone districts of Tamil Nadu and affected by drinking water scarcity for more than 8 months in a year. So providing adequate safe drinking water to the rural people is a challenge. VMMK conducted Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) to identify the needs of 120 villages of the district and found that 80% households do not get potable water for domestic purpose including drinking water.
To overcome this problem and to ensure uninterrupted water supply to these 120 villages VMMK conducted the following interventions with the support of TWAD Board.