Area Health Minders

Amlan Ganguly is organizing children in slum areas in West Bengal to become peer leaders/educators bringing about ‘lifestyle’ changes within their communities. Focusing primarily on preventive health, sanitation and hygiene these children (calling themselves ‘area health minders’) are changing the physical and social environment within which they live. 

Grassroot Human Resource Management Institute

Prayasam is pleased to introduce its new ONTRACK program for 13 - 25 yrs, a Grassroot Human Resource Management Institute, which is a community based program that works towards developing business, industrial and personal skills amongst the youth in the greater Kolkata/ West Bengal area. The ONTRACK program is a three year course that will provide select youth with the opportunity to learn valuable vocational trades and prepare them to be influential participants in the economy.  ONTRACK will not only prepare the youth for getting jobs but will also equip them with the necessary business and social skills necessary to hold on to and excel in their jobs. These youth are at a critical point in their social, emotional, mental and physical development at a time when they begin the transition into young adults. Early adolescence is a time of turmoil, resilience, productivity, cognitive growth, generosity, and increasing involvement in social, academic and emotional tasks. It has been found out that adolescents coming from slums to schools may not have family support to help in their teen socialization as the society changes.

Community Kitchen

The commercial kitchen project provides training in food production, marketing and distribution. This has appealed to several adolescents and they see it as an exit from unskilled labour to a career in restaurants, hotel or in setting up their own enterprise. The Commercial Kitchen now involves 30 adolescents from the source areas of Bidhannagar and South DumDum Municipalities of the district 24 Parganas(N), namely, Udayanpally, Mohishbathan, Nazrulpally, Shantinagar, Duttabad and Rishi Aurobindo Colony, who are helped in managing the kitchen. Eminent institutions will be contacted to provide training to the adolescents in preparing food, packaging and serving. The trainees at the commercial kitchen are also enrolled in the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) education programme and are part of other activities of Community Development like running the YUVA (YOUTH UNITED for VARIOUS ACTIVITIES), working as Area Health Minders, taking part in Alternate Media, Computer Education etc. The income generated from the Commercial Kitchen gives them a status of a worker in a dignified and respectful profession and equips them for a career in the hospitality industry where there is space for more and more trained manpower. The more enterprising among them also have the option of setting up their own catering business.

The Community Visual News Network (CVNN) tried to capture the daily triumph and trials of the Community people, specially youth and children. This news program, written for and aimed at teenagers to nurture future Community Change Makers, would contain 2.5 minutes of teasers (made by the Community Youth about the USPs of the Community) and 10 minutes of news. The news will be screened at the school level to enthuse the children and the youth to take onus of their own communities. CVNN is an offering from our Visual Basic Studio, a grassroot film studio offering community films to make people aware of their strength or weaknesses or opportunities or threats. Film making, for Prayasam is not a recent phenomenon. We have started it in our own humble way. Then Adobe Youth Voices came and shared their technical knowhow and our children were excited to lace their work with professionalism. And the result is just much impactful than what we did with our very basic gadgets.

Peer Assistance Leadership

The Peer Education Programme, PAL: (Peer Assistance Leadership), is a model of training that supports participants to develop and then deliver information to their peers.  Peer education draws on the credibility that young people have with their peers, leverages the power of role modeling, and provides flexibility in meeting the diverse needs of today's youth. Peer education can support young people in developing positive group norms and in making healthy decisions about life. Prayasam is known for treating children as partners in their work rather than beneficiaries.  PAL puts the onus on children to identify the key issues of their community and find the requisite solutions, thereby taking ownership of their world.  The forming of groups among the children is key to PAL’s success and longevity.  The power of the group is that it empowers the children to collectively take charge of their own communities and have their perspective heard and taken seriously in adult circles.  PAL invests significant time in communications tools instruction.  Children learn such practical skills as poster/slogan making, comics and skits/role playing.  They then use these creative activities to impart important messages on their communities.  The PAL model of Prayasam is being implemented in West Bengal Board of Madrasah Rducation extensively.

Community Excellence Award

The year 2013 witnessed the birth of the Community Excellence Award organised by Prayasam – pronaamPronaam seeks to recognize outstanding achievements of the slum pockets currently working with Prayasam. At pronaam, a singular adjective does not exist – the event is entirely focused to recognize and reward community development through community involvement. Held on 31st Decemebr, 2013, this self-development platform was a perfect way to recognize the extraordinary feats by those people whom the world seems to view as being extremely ordinary – the children. The children of the community form the heart and soul of this event and rightly so, for the pronaam (salute) in return of the tremendous work that they have done is only theirs to receive.

It is difficult to describe pronaam for it is a multi-dimensional concept involving intricate layers of varying levels of complexity. The simplest and the most superfluous layer presents PronAam as the withdrawal strategy for Prayasam. Through this event, the organization seeks to promote responsibility among the various slum pockets so that one day they may be their own leaders. Pronaam is simply a voice for the work that is being done in these pockets, where the community leads from the front in order to propel themselves towards self-sufficiency.

Delving deeper into the concept of pronaam, one realizes that pronaam is also a platform for self- development for the child partners where their lives are projected in a positive light. Pronaam seeks to promote social equality by stressing on crisp, clean and meticulous performances so that the audience may view the performers as equals and not as the weaker social class. In fact, pronaam seeks to educate the common man that to ensure development, one must think WITH the children and not merely FOR the children.

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