The vision of O.D.I.S.A. is to build a just self-reliant, healthy and happy society based on human values of love, justice, peace, freedom, equality, brotherhood and respect for life, culture, history and nature, at all levels of existence, so that the “Kingdom of God” is established on earth.
The Mission of O.D.I.S.A. is to restore human dignity of the marginalised and disadvantaged people of rural Orissa, through a process of empowerment.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF THE ORGANIZATION
1. To establish “ Peoples Organizations” such as self-help groups, youth groups, farmers clubs, childrens’ associations, mahila mandals (women groups) etc. at the grass root level and to strengthen the existing ones at the community level. 2. To conduct socio-economic and political awareness programme among the poorest and neglected people, so that they become socially conscious and live a dignified life with full rights of the citizens of India. 3. To conduct training programme for village leadership. 4. To conduct non-formal education programme for illiterate adults and children, and also take up literacy campaigns, for promotion of education among the illiterate. 5. To rehabilitate leprosy patients and other vulnerable groups like handicapped people, in order that they live a dignified life. 6. To promote agricultural education and scientific know-how so as to develop and strengthen new rural economic order. 7. To promote environmental protection by taking up environmental issues, encouraging tree plantations and to find a viable solution to product cultivation ( Shift Cultivation pattern). 8. To promote people based Community Health Care System and to promote basic health meetings, water facility, sanitation etc. 9. To promote co-operatives, community stores, saving schemes, villages crafts and other economic enterprises and initiatives which help the poor people to sustain themselves and stand on their own feet.
THE TARGET GROUPS
The target groups for the development work of ODISA includes the following classes of people: socially and economically poor and backward Tribals, Scheduled castes, women, handicapped children, destitutes, aged leprosy patients, landless and marginalised farmers, aged etc.
ODISA has its central office in Vijoy Bhavan campus, which is also the Provincial House of the Vincentian Fathers. It has regional offices in 15 mission centers, in Orissa where Vincentian fathers are working. The Organization runs 2 leprosy Rehabilitation Centers, 4 Rural Dispensaries for basic health services, 2 Development Training Institutes, 10 Community Stores, and 5 Model Agricultural Nurseries, and operates in 250 villages for Community Development Programmme. The project programme are right now benefiting a target group of 20,000 rural poor in 6 districts of Orissa
SOME OF THE SPECIFIC ODISA PROJECT ACTIVITIES
REHABILITATION OF LEPROSY PATIENTS
ODISA has taken up rehabilitation of leprosy patients at 3 centers at Chatrapur, Berhampur & Aska region in Orissa. There are over 150 families with a population 600 people living in these rehabilitation centres, out of the 2 lakh leprosy patients found in this region of Orissa. The rehabilitation programme includes decent housing for each family, income generation schemes, choir rope making projects, education of children etc. These are taken up for the integral development of the patients in the colony. The socially ostracized and segregated leprosy affected people of these areas who used to live only on begging and at the pity and mercy of others are today able to live a dignified life. They are able to hold their heads high, and are proud of the community they have formed. Their children who used accompany them in begging are today going to the formal schools and share the same class room with other children of the society. The organization hopes to develop many more such centres, to settle and rehabilitate the many more unattended leprosy affected people, who still roam around and beg to make a livelihood.
NON FORMAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME
ODISA has taken up non formal education classes for the non school going children of tribals and scheduled castes in rural areas, where there are no schools and no possibility for literacy and education. There are over a hundred thousand villages in rural India, where there are no opportunities for the children to study. The state of Orissa is one of the lowest in literacy rates and backward in many aspects. ODISA right now runs 200 Balawadi/non formal education centers encouraging and helping above 4000 children to become literate and to attend formal schools, where it is possible. The children are also helped to grow as good citizens, and are provided with opportunities to awaken their hidden talents and potentials, and to grow properly. Occasional Sisumela, (Childrens’ Camps), Sports and games encourage such children who never get such opportunities in their life..
GENDER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
The women in India, by and large do not enjoy the same social status and decision making power as the men folk. The women from lower income groups and specially of the vulnerable groups are exploited and mal-treated on various counts. They do not have any opportunities to come together, share their problems and decide together for their rights and to improve their lot. In order to ameliorate this situation of women, ODISA has started women self-help groups in all the 200 villages, where it is working. Women of the villages form their own self-help groups with a minimum of 15 members. They have their own elected team to start a saving scheme, in which they can contribute and also take share or benefits in turn. There are 200 such women groups with each group having a minimum saving amount of Rs. 5000/- and this amount is rotated among themselves for their improvement. The women groups conduct basic awareness meetings, take up common farms, community shops and other such income generation schemes for their welfare. ODISA wants to strengthen these groups already formed and wants to form more such groups in the future to help those millions of underprivileged women folk.
AGRICULTURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
In order to strengthen the rural economy, the poor farmers from rural villages especially of the tribals and scheduled castes, are taught to take up new agricultural development practices which will raise up their income. It also helps people to make use of the waste lands, and provide green coverage to the already destroyed and denuded forest covers. ODISA encourages farmers to plant economically viable trees on the denuded mountains, as an alternative to Shift-Cultivation. People are encouraged to plant income fetching fruit trees like Coconut, Cashew, mango, Turmeric, Jack fruit, Papaya and other such trees. To train people, model agricultural plantations and nurseries are run at various locations. The farmers are taught of the techniques of new cultivation during training camps. Seed banks etc are promoted in the village level to encourage people to improve their agriculture as well as protect the environment.
COMMUNITY HEALTH PROGRAMME
The organization runs health awareness programs in all the 200 villages which are under community development. There are also mobile clinic, and few dispensaries run at various centres to give basic health services. Hundreds of lives are saved by these basic health infrastructures which are lacking in thousands of villages in Orissa. The Organization also imparts awareness on bringing down infant mortality rate and pregnancy related death cases in all 200 villages where it is working. ODISA hopes to carry forward this health awareness to many more villages for a better health tomorrow.
The poor people in the rural and interior villages fully depend on the money lenders and middle men for the buying and selling of their agricultural produces and other goods. It is on this counts that the poor illiterate tribals and people of scheduled Castes’are exploited and cheated. To remedy this situation, the Organization has established community stores for the villagers, organized and run by them in a collective way. They are encouraged to sell their goods and purchase goods from their own shops, thus avoiding middle men and money lenders who exploit them. There are hundreds of villagers waiting to take up such a measure to find liberation from their enslaving situation.
DEVELOPMENT TRAINING CENTERS
In order to promote village leadership and to give right social work orientation and training to development workers of our own Organization as well as to the various non-governmental organizations working for development, ODISA has started 2 training centers. One of the centers is known as Vijaya Institute of Rural Development. It is located at J.K. Pur in Rayagada district of Orissa. Development related training programs are conducted there in Oriya language for the people involved in development work. ODISA has started, another training center in Vincent Nagar, named “Dinoba Training Center”. It is yet another center which is oriented to train persons involved in the development of the Savara Tribals. The programme is conducted in Savara dialect, which the Tribals speak. Both the training centers are committed to quality training and value formation of the young people in order that they can work with commitment to the cause of the poor.
SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMS FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN
Handicapped children in poverty stricken families belong to some of the most neglected and vulnerable groups. Many handicapped, affected with polio and other sickness could get rehabilitated, with sufficient attention given to them. In order to help them get rehabilitated in the family and society, O.D.I.S.A. has taken up social sponsorship programme for handicapped children.
RELIEF OPERATIONS AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Orissa is a land of recurring natural calamities, floods, draughts, and cyclones. We are very quick to respond to such crisis situations. We immediately pool our resources, persons and materials, and start relief operations. ODISA gave a helping hand in the relief operations after the ‘super cyclone’ that devastated 11 coastal districts of Orissa in October 1999. Our students in formation and a few Conferers and many Sisters participated in the relief work.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRAMMES
We are conscious about the problem of unemployment. In order to train the poor youth we have started a vocational training center at Berhampur. Young people with a initial schooling are trained in carpentry, welding, lathe, refrigeration, electricals, auto-mechanism, tailoring and typing. An average of 30 students pass out of these institutions every year acquiring a skill to earn their liveli-hood.
SUDEEP COIR INDUSTRY
Sudeep is a brain child of Fr. Varghese Vadakkan C.M. It is situated on the bank of the back-waters of Gopalpur-on-sea. Gopalpur is a small sea side town having a thick population of fisherfolk. The fisher men struggle with the sea to eke out a living. Their women wait at home for their return to light the kitchen fire. Some times the sea goes dry of fish,and they return empty handed and the family goes starving. Sudeep was an attempt to create a few employment opportunities for the poor fisher women. What began as a modest attempt in 1977 has grown into a self managed, self employment scheme today. Over 100 women, most of them young widows, deserted wives and unmarried are employed in Sudeep at present. The location of Sudeep is well suited for coconut fiber processing. Coconut husks are decayed, and then beaten into fine fiber to weave carpets, floor mats, door mats, etc. and to make ropes. Very few machines are used in the industry to give human hands an opportunity to work. The looms and spinning wheels are indigenously developed and bear little cost. The women earn Rupees 40 to 60 per day. The profits accumulated are shared periodically. Marketing is still a problem because of tough competition from the machine produced goods. Of late Sudeep has introduced functional literacy and non formal education among the workers, all of whom are illiterate and ignorant. Also a school for the children of the workers has been opened in the work site itself. Quite recently Sudeep has managed to provide permanent shelters for the homeless workers. What stands out in Sudeep is a sense of self reliance prevailing among women for whom hope had dimmed and life expectations wanished.
The legal system in India is anti-poor and definitely pro-rich. Innocent and poor people are often victims of litigation . Frs.George Varakulam C.M and Thomas Kottiri C.M, both qualified lawyers, are set apart for legal aid service to the poor . They do a commendable job by legal education, free consultation , and taking up cases of the poor people in the courts . Settlement outside the court is preferred and emphasized by them . Legal education is imparted through legal camps in the villages . The program package consists of information such as court structure in India, cases, offenses, summons, warrants, arrests, bail, trials, offenses against marriage , welfare schemes, police and their powers, land laws, local self governments ( Panchayat Raj Institutions ) fundamental human rights and their violations ,remedies etc. As many as 140 such camps of 3 to 5 days duration have been conducted so far, from which more than 8000 people have received basic legal information . Unlike other lawyers, these priest lawyers are accredited as people always on the side of the poor. Legal aid ministry is nearly 10 years old now.