Local Community Exchange Empowerment Trust
Bhavangels Activity Report
The Bhavangels Volunteer group was formed on December 9th 2015, exactly a month ago. The Local Community Exchange Empowerment Trust ( Lokalex ) focused on providing immediate relief to the Chennai Flood affected people from Dec 2nd onwards when it got involved in distribution of food and other essentials to beneficiaries who were marooned in the water or had sought shelter in nearby places. As more Chennaites got involved in distribution of food and essentials, we at Lokalex decided to move on to the rehabilitation phase as the waters slowly receded and the affected people started to put their lives together. We decided to design a kit of essentials with a budget of Rs.5000/- for each kit and targeting 100 families. We decided to raise these funds by sending out mailers to our friends and relatives and form a larger voluntary group – called Bhavangels.
The response from those whom we had contacted and their friends was overwhelming. We have received Rs. 6,40,000/- as of now with commitments from a few more donors. As of date we have distributed 115 kits to families who were affected. These families were targeted to receive after ascertaining their genuineness. Initially our volunteers, donors and friends identified beneficiaries who were in their visible reach. Their drivers, maids, watchmen and other service personnel with whom they are in touch. We then collected data from these beneficiaries and found that they all came from 5 or 6 localities. We visited these localities to check the extent of havoc and whether other organizations have come forward to help. We were lead to other people in that communities by our original beneficiaries. We worked through them to collect data about others in that community . Thus we had groups of atleast 15 beneficiaries in about 6 different localities. Adambakkam group was almost 40. Besides there are a few isolated beneficiaries from other localities. To the best of our knowledge every beneficiary has genuinely lost a lot in the floods and has not been provided relief by other organizations.
Short term Relief , Long Term Rehabilitation
Getting a foothold into these communities and building trust through this kit distribution has facilitated our next phase of livelihood rehabilitation. Before we go into that a quick look at our kit would be interesting. We had items to help people in their cooking activities in the kitchen, utensils, plates, serving spoons, provisions for 15 days etc., sleeping related items such as mats, bedsheets, blankets, pillows, etc. hygiene and cleanliness related such as dettol, soaps, brushes, brooms, buckets, mugs, drinking water pots, children related items such as notebooks, school bags, lunch boxes, lunch bags, footwear, etc. These were essential items that any family would need if they have to reboot their lives from scratch. The gratefulness in their eyes when they received the kit was enough confirmation to us that we were on the right track. However, for their self respect to be restored they would have to get back to their income generating ways. Many among them were tailors who lost their sewing machines, idli vendors who lost their pushcarts, stoves and idli making vessels, fish vendors who lost their pushcarts, auto drivers whose auto required repairs, carpenters, plumbers who lost their tools and so on.Small amounts of capital would go a long way to restore their livelihood.
The rehab process of restoring livelihood is sought to be implemented through the help of local community members themselves. A steering committee of 5 leaders elected by the community members would be formed. This committee would be our interface and would implement all our activities and our mentorship. The committee would operate a bank account with two of its members nominated to jointly operate the bank account.
In addition Thrift groups of 10 to 15 members would be formed. These members would be explained the rules of engagement. They would contribute a fixed amount to their group amount every month. They would also entertain loan requests from their members, process them, do due diligence and decide on which loans should be given based on need, repayment capacity, and track record of the loan requester. Lokalex will provide matching grants to match amounts contributed every month for six months.
The first meeting in Ambednagar, Adambakkam is a great success. A five member committee called the Ambedkar Welfare Group has been elected and 3 groups of 13 members each have been formed. Each group has elected a leader. The members have resolved to contribute Rs.200/- per month and entertain loans from members and will collectively decide on whom to give, how much to give, to be repaid in how many instalments, etc. The groups will meet on the 1st Sunday of every month for collecting contribution, repayment instalments and interest from each member and consider and give loans to new people requesting for loans.
Other localities where some action has been initiated are Pulianthope, Teynampet, Taramani.
The XII class School leaving Certificate Exams of Tamilnadu State Education Board has been announced to be held on March 1st 2016 onwards. We believe this is too short a period for Economically, Socially and Academically Backward ( ESAB) students to write and pass. Hence the idea is to concentrate and aim on them getting 50% marks in each exam so that there is a great probability of these students to get at least 35% of the marks and pass.
A group of volunteers have been formed to prepare answer scripts of model question papers as per guidelines of the subject blueprint as a video and project with the help of a projector. The students will be encouraged to come to a community centre to study the projected script , besides working out and answering mock question papers. Four or Five volunteers will be attached to each centre. The local steering committee will also oversee and facilitate the operations of these study centers.
The first centre is hoped to be launched on 22 Jan, 2016.