We, the Jesuits operate under a secular banner "Orissa Citizens' Initiative. We have initiated community-based peace building process in Mundigodo gram panchayat in Tumudibandha block. In this GP three villages were affected in the recent violence and two people were murdered. Though the quantum of damage, while comparing with other blocks like Raikia, G Udayagiri, Tikabali, Phiringia is less, - Tumudibandha being close to Jalespata, where the ashram of Swami Laxmanananda located - there is constant fear among the people in this block. In fact we had to make a choice between whether to get into a high tension area, which is still not possible, or start from less tense area where some peace building could be initiated.
We have done the assessment of 13 revenue villages in Mundigodo panchayat and the assessment is being processed. Already we have initiated medical camps and non-competitive games in four schools. Soon after the elections, due for 16 April, we will be getting involved in a systematic manner in these villages. Our aim is to build mutual trust and confidence among the Adivasis and the Dalits across religions and slowly build peace in the communities. To start with, we will be taking up medical interventions mainly to control communicable diseases like malaria and water-borne diseases, and school-based activities. Slowly we would take up village development works by accessing available government schemes by formation of women and men's groups and introducing income generation programmes.
Soon we also plan to enter into the adjacent Kotagarh panchayat where more than 7 villages were affected. The works are carried out from Tumudibandha proper. There is a Jesuit involved full time and he works in collaboration with a local NGO.
In this summer, we will be training 40 boys in driving, and 60 girls (12th std appeared or pass) in computer and spoken english training for a month. We have plans to offer 6-month skill training for both boys and girls.
Where could your support and solidatity come in as of now? The following are the possibilities:
- In providing uniform to 650 boys and girls in 13 revenue villages in Mundigodo GP (from 1st standard to 8th standard) on an average of Rs 200 per child.
- To buy books for the same 650 children in the coming academic year on an average of Rs 200 per child.
- Once we expand the works in Kotagorah Block, we expect and will fulfil similar needs.
- You could support boys who will be taking up driving, or girls who will undergo spoken english and computer education. (driving per boy Rs 3,000 per month, and computer and spoken english Rs 4,000 per girl per month. This includes board & lodge and course expenses too)
- To support deserving families for income generation programmes. This will be carried out through a revolving fund scheme.
We will constantly update you with the field report, as to how the people are benefiting by your support and by our interventions.
S. Tony Raj, SJ
Orissa Citizens' Initiative
58 Forest Park
Bhubaneswar - 751 009