Initiatives

Initiatives


SFT began its modest journey in 1986 in Kalali Village, Vadodara Block. Apparent needs then were the creation of a locally available accessible and dependable basic health facilities and as well as enhancing agricultural productivity. Over the years, whichever areas SFT entered, these were the 2 basic areas of needs need fulfillment in Bhuj block in Kutch, Padra, Chhotaudepur and Pavi-Jetpur blocks in Vadodara District.

SFT was able to bring about a significant increase in agriculture productivity by introducing scientific techniques with the assistance and advice from the Gujarat Agriculture Universities and other experts in the field. They and also provided health services of at least of primary nature and to some extent, even of secondary nature.

In the year 1996, SFT extended its journey of community development to Tribal Chhotaudepur where SFT’s initial efforts were focused in the heart of the Tribal tribal area – place called Rangpur (Sadhli). The tribal community believes that, nothing is lifeless. The spirit recides resides in everything – trees, rivers, mountains – and so, traditionally, they lived in a close symbiotic relationship with nature.

SFT’s work in Chhotaudepur has been challenging yet very satisfying and rewarding. SFT entered the region with watershed and soil conservation programs. Our strategy to involve them as labour and at supervisory level during the construction stage of watershed, instead of contracting the tasks to outsiders, ensured that they identified with the programs. This benefited them before they started to get rewards of watershed and soil conservation works they did on their own fields.

SFT’s grit and fortitude helped the tribals to take the obstacles and the slow progress of works in their stride. Their determination not to be deterred by any hardships and failures gave SFT the courage to tread the difficult path of transformative change. It enabled them to transformconvert people’s suspicions and distrust into faith and trust, to formulate a process that empowered community to walk and run with them and now even sprint ahead on their own.

After twenty years journey of SFT with tribal community of Chhotaudepur supporting health, handicraft, education, creating entrepreneurship opportunities and sustainable agriculture, SFT has come to a juncture (tribhete) to take them forward to market their produce/ products in urban markets with higher returns and their children’s employment in main stream industries.

SFT’s role in making man, as said/ spoken by Swami Vivekananda, has played a major role in development of the area. A long standing effort of training and nurturing local leadership to take charge of all development programs – cadre of Samaj Shilpies- has transformed the community and its development process.

Whatever areas SFT entered, there were always two basic needs – health and agriculture development; be it Bhuj block in Kutch, Padra block or Chhota-Udepur and Jetpur-Pavi blocks in Vadodara.

  • Grass-root level where women are encouraged to participate in savings and credit groups and learnt the discipline of regular savings and repaying repayment the loans.
  • Vision is that, these grass-root level groups are eventually linked with the Apex body called Shardadevi Gramudyog Society. All savings of the groups goes to the federation (Shardadevi Gramudyog Society) and each member becomes the share holder by paying share feesmoney.

The corpus created by these funds will be rotated amongst members by giving loans. Interest rate of the loan is decided by the members of the federation.

Long term vision is to create network through which financial needs of the members can be fulfilled and the process of empowering women leaders at different levels will increase their self-esteem and capacity to work with the outside world.

Long term vision is to develop community based organizations (CBOs) to take forward the development work started by SFT.

All the programs implemented by SFT is by keepingalways keep sustainability in focus. Local youth – men and women, are involved at all levels in the implementation of the program. Community mobilization is always the first step before starting the new program.

A cadre of local youth – men and women, are trained as Samaj Shilpis – who are the community architects. Samaj Shilpi’s role is to see development of cluster of villages, covering modern agriculture practices, animal husbandry, land and water conservation, health and education, sanitation and housing and various other issues touching the lives of the community. The important role that a Samaj Shilpi is playing is to empower the community by focusing on various development issues under the guidance of SFT.

We adopt Swami Vivekananda’s teaching of ‘Man-Making’ with youths, the future of India. Also Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi has outlined development of Indian youth as a key program. At SFT, we were making efforts to actualize these dreams by empowering grass-root level youths by providing them overall exposure and opportunities available to them for their holistic development through Youth Development Program.

A very major role SFT is playing for the community is linkages with various schemes of the Government and non government agencies. Thousands of schemes are announced by the Government for the betterment of economically vulnerable families. SFT creates awareness and facilitates linkages with these programs for the communities through Samaj Shilpis and Community leaders.

SFT has spearheaded the Ttreatment for of Soil soil and Water water conservation in 14,000 hectares of land by Farm Bunding, Contour Bunding, Gully Plugging, Check-dams, Boribandhs, Nala Plugs under Watershed watershed development project.

About 70 irrigation wells are recharged, increasing the water table by 2-3 feet. Farmers of lower reaches witnessed significant increase in ground water level with such promotion of irrigation, . Llong duration crops like Gram, Cotton, Paddy and Groundnut are being added in the cropping pattern. 7,45,000 saplings were planted to protect the land from soil erosion. 1150 hectares of land has been reclaimed for farming and some 19,000 plus cubic meters of precious soil saved by preventing its erosion by harnessing the local resource. 6,000 tribal population stands to see a transformative change in their lives and succeeding generations

A long term development plan for Orsang River Basin development is taken up by SFT under the program “Orsang Jal ane Samruddhi - OJAS”. Under the program, 70 villages are identified which are in surroundings of tributaries of Orsang river. River Orsang can be quite tumultuous. The effort is to channelize waters of Orsang for betterment of the villages.

Micro plans of all these 70 villages are completed under expert guidance of geologists, using GPS tools and mapping by the communities. Enormous cost is involved in implementing these plans. Effort is to link them up with the Government programs and other funding for a systematic development of the area. The plans are adopted by Village Panchayats so that long term systematic implementation through community involvement is possible.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a Central Government Program implemented in Gujarat State since Feb-2006. In the initial period the program was implemented in 6 districts. B by 2009-10, the scheme was implemented in all districts. It is well recognized that MGNREGA is primarily a safety net for the poor; another important objective of the scheme which is largely not recognized is an effort to create durable assets. This in turn can trigger rural growth, leading to sustainable development in rural area.

The study of the problems of the Sankheda block revealed that there were multiple problems like ; delay in sanction of funds, irregularity in wage payments and unavailability of technical staff and lack of awareness.

Sankheda block has 187 villages under 91 Gram Panchayats. The entire block has 21,000 job card holders out of which only 5,000 have got some work. The role of Community Social Organization (CSO) which SFT has taken is of facilitation, so that demand for MGNREGA can be generated. SFT looks at this program in its holistic development scheme as a program of strategic importance – a game changer program.

Over the years SFT has worked diligently to improve various income sources of tribals by intervening in farming activity, bringing in various farm related government programs, animal husbandry and dairy development, appropriate farm technology and reduction in drudgery, creating alternate sources of income, establishing women’s cooperative called Shardadevi Gramodhyog Sahakari Mandali with several linear like handicraft, fruit pulping, pickle and papadi making, production of Bio fertilizer and Bio pesticides with appropriate sales outlets.

The agriculture and farm labor activity are the major source of livelihood in the tribal community. Until recently, lack of irrigation facilities, knowledge, backward and forward linkages the agriculture was not enough for livelihood support for whole year; the tribals were forced to migrate year by year for survival.

Government programs like Seeds Village, National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Wadi program, Sun Shine, Jeevika were implemented reaching out to about 41,250 farmers. We Ccreated awareness on farm techniques at every stage, from sowing to harvesting; this has resulted in doubling the yields with developing habits to use quality inputs in a complete package of crops. As a result of the multi dimensional approach, cropping pattern has changed, increasing the number of crops per year, Agriculture production and yields increased by 80%, Annual annual income of farmers in the cluster has risen by almost 80%. Horticulture is being accepted as a source of additional income.

Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development were identified as potential source of livelihood not fully exploited yet by SFT. For the community, it was a traditional activity to fulfill the household needs. SFT developed Veterinary veterinary services; , cattle feed supply and awareness on modern practices of animal husbandry. It also, facilitated establishing establishment of dairy cooperatives in Chhota-Udepur. SFT alsoAlso promoted breed improvement program under Bull Production Program of the government. In the desert area of Kutch (Banni), 500 families have been linked with the dairy sector; the revenue generation in this area is about Rs. 20 crores collectively per annum.

Manual labour in farming reduced efficiency and production. Studies reveal that farm activities are time and labor intensive, monotonous, repetitive and drudgery prone, reduces farmers interest in the activity. Concerned about providing two square meals to the family, itsit’s always the women who worked for 15-16 hours a day to obtain agriculture output. SFT, with an integrated approach to this problem, considered introduce introduction and use of improved tools and equipments to reduce fatigue considerably and enhance efficiency. Introduction of Mechanization mechanization improved productivity and energy conservation of energy required for various operations in crop production, thrashing threshing and processing, transportation, value addition and storage etc.

Lack of alternate source of income is the major reason for migration and exploitation for the communities of the backward areas. SFT deliberated on making available various skill trainings like embroidery, bead work, and various other small businesses for women and linking large number of women to Self Help Groups (SHGs).


Shardadevi Gramudyog Utpadak Sahakari Mandali

A sustainable enterprise owned by Tribal Women – The Shardadevi Gramudyog Utpadak Sahakari Mandli (SGS) has been formed to bring SHGs under a single umbrella. With the help of funding from Tribal Development Department of Government of Gujarat (GOG), SFT implemented special program called Suvarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) with a vision to provide alternate livelihood to 1500 below poverty line (BPL) families. To institutionalize various income generating activities, Shardadevi Gramudyog Utpadak Sahkari Mandli Ltd (SGS) with 450 shareholders, is formally registered under Cooperative Act in July 2008. As of now, 1061 tribal women (SHGs members) are shareholders of SGS.

An Apex body of 11 executive committee members and a governing body of 55 members has been formed representing 119 SHGs from 31 villages. The Executive Committee and Governing Body members were capacitated on business models of Handicrafthandicrafts, Allied allied services of Agricultureagriculture, Micro micro financese and Food food and Fruit fruit processing activities.

SGS has undertaken the promotion of Handicrafts as a Business at present. SGS markets the products under the brand of VIVEKA. With contemporary design and innate tribal quality, they have a unique look. These products are produced with quality and beauty in mind. Each bead is hand woven, with the pattern and colour combination individually selected. The products are beautiful and provide long-lasting functionality. Made in silk, incorporating sequences, embroidery and beading in a single piece product is enhanceds the product individually. VIVEKA products bring “Quality with a Cause”. The SGS also received a “Craft mark” (symbol of genuine Indian handicrafts) certificate issued by ‘The All India Artisans and Craft workers Welfare Association” (AIACA) for the brand. VIVEKA aims to increase consumer awareness about the integrity of handmade products and its authenticity.

SGS has owned Food food and Fruit fruit processing license and undertaken pulping of custard apple, Mango mango processing and Rice rice Papdi papdi making on pilot basis.

All the areas that SFT entered, SFT it definitely addressed issues related to development of agriculture and health services.

Absence of quality health services in remote rural areas inspires SFT to begin with primary health. Non availability of medical services and lack of awareness for timely treatment increases mobility, ultimately resulting in higher expenses. Poor reproductive and child care services like antenatal checkup, immunization and vaccination leads to the higher rates of infant and maternal mortalities.

In 1980s, when SFT began work at village Kalali, it started a medical clinic covering nearby villages and slums of city of Vadodara; the clinic is now developed as well equipped and multidisciplinary hospital named “Ramkrishna Paramhansa Hospital”.

Eventually, when work in Chhota-Udepur and Banni-Kachchh started, SFT began the work with Mobile Medical Clinic. Today, at both these centers have a well equipped medical center named as Sharda Medical Center is functional.

Because of well equipped medical centers and regular curative services, about 21,000 patients get timely treatment per year.

Ramkrishna Paramhans Hospital (RKPH) provides treatment at an affordable cost. Focus of SFT is to reach the needy and newly developing surrounding residential areas in the extended city of Vadodara. The biggest draw at RKPH is patients seeking Haemo-Dialysis. At SFT SFT, quality treatment with compassion is the motto. Nutritional food is given to Dialysis dialysis patients.

Considering the need of specialized services in the field of Urology and Nephrology at an affordable rate, SFT is expanding Uro-Nephrothese services at RKPH by adding more beds. Another focus is on maternal and child health, which is an important National focus of significance in the national health sector.

The health center in Chhotaudepur is a major contribution of SFT in the Public public Health health Sectorsector. With the development of the city and District district seat of Chhotaudepur District, a lot of private health providers have mushroomed in the area. A reliable and affordable health services is the need of the area. Almost twofold increase in utilization of SMC-CU is the indicator of need in the area.

A well equipped Mobile Medical Unit has been presented to SFT, which will be utilized to provide mobile medical services to the tribal villages surrounding ChhotaudepurU.

Banni region in Kutch is one of the most neglected areas in Kutch where medical services are almost absent. People have to travel 80 kms to Bhuj even for primary medical services. Recognizing this gap in health services, SFT decided to start a primary clinic for 12 hours. Another 12 hours, the services are linked to Bhuj through availability of ambulance. SMC-Hodko day clinic is fulfilling the gap in health services.

With the help of Government of GujaratOG, Mobile Medical Unit is operational in 29 remote villages of the area where antenatal and postnatal services to pregnant and lactating mothers, children and elderly are served through this unit.

Vocational Training:

Vivekananda Institute of Vocational Training & Entrepreneurial Competence (VIVEC) - This activity includes Vivekananda Institute of Vocational Training & Entrepreneurial Competence (VIVEC), and Business Process Outsourcing Learning Center for Tribal Youths, Adult literacy for Women, Youth Development Centers and School Support Program.

With the support of Gujarat Government’s Tribal Development Department, a new and much-appreciated initiative of SFT is VIVEC. Under its aegis, since 2010, a unique Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Training Center for tribal youths was initiated for imparting computer training to girls and boys in English language, so as to and developed their competence to work on MICROSOFT programs.

VIVEC has been set up by SFT, is training youths - both girls and boys for vocational skills, along with basic computer, personality development, value education and English language. These competent and trained tribal youth are being picked up by big and medium sized companies, offering immediate decent-salary jobs. Thus, the youth of tribal are broad basing their livelihood skills and thereby the opportunities to wean away from traditional agro-based pursuits for earning a living.

With the help of GOGthe state government, SFT has been able to establish a state of the art training center for VIVEC at village Paldi in Waghodia block of Vadodara District. Paldi is surrounded by industrial estates of Savli, Manjusar, Halol and Waghodia region. The Vvision is to establish a state-of-the-art endeavor which offers a modern set-up with workshops, laboratories and other necessary infrastructure to provide quality vocational education to tribal youths in various fields. This will be done by Pproviding necessary inputs on personality development, soft skills, life skills, basic English and basic computer knowledge, apart from technical content it isit providing provides students a platform to be at par with other working professionals.

Support in Education and Literacy Drive

The eEducation was one of the last priorities for the tribal and desert communities. Because of poor infrastructure and poor quality of primary education in these remote areas, people started neglecting to enroll their children. The migration in search of livelihood also had affected the whole education systems. SFT initiated School Support program in villages of Vadodara and Kachchh districts; focusing capacity building of teachers, building characters of children by ethical and value based education. Now the community has owned up the responsibilities for quality education and overall development of the schools.

While working in the backward areas, it was observed that the average literacy rate was extremely poor, especially among the women. This has been the biggest stumbling block for any kind of development work. Since women play an important role in overall development of the family and society, SFT realized that it was crucial to literate this section of the community. As a result, they would be able to actively participate in the development process.

Introduction of School Management Committees (SMC) and Right-to-Education by Government of India has created opportunity and focus on rural schools.

The SFT team, along with their other responsibilities, have has decided to cover 10 schools under SSP. The role SFT team is playing is of strengthening SMC, providing guidance in their role and encouraging them to meet regularly and attend to the issues faced by the schools.

Another area where SFT team is providing support to Youth Development Program. 15 such groups have been selected and are provided training of trainers with exposure to these centres in Hobby classes, Life skills, Sports and other activities for self development.

The tribal area Literacy literacy survey shows that more than 50% of the women cannot read, write or sign. SFT has taken up responsibility to literate these women and provide them basic information on Health and Sanitation, Savings and Credit, Cleanliness and Nutrition, Banking etc.

In April 2014, Government of India introduced a bill under Company’s Act Section 135, which makes it mandatory for corporate of certain size to dedicate 2% of their Net Profits towards Corporate Social Responsibility as per Schedule VII.

Accordingly, SFT got many inquiries and multiple engagement opportunities with Reputed reputed Corporate corporate entities who wanted to discharge their CSR responsibilities with a credible partner like SFT. Some major initiatives which were explored and operationalized on this account including Transpek Industrie Industry Ltd. (Supporting Vocational Education and Skill Development), Gujarat State Fertilizers Company Ltd. - GSFC ( Sanitation Units for 750 households in Angadh Village), Hindustan Colas Private Ltd. - HINCOL ( Supporting employment generation for 61 students around Savli Industrial Area through vocational Training training, wherein up to 90% of the course fees was paid by HINCOL and balance by candidates) .

The Ccorporate world also extended their support in improving Public Health and Hygiene Initiatives. HINCOL donated a Trauma Care Ambulance to RKPH Kalali), Lions Club International (donation of a Trauma Care Ambulance for SMC CU) and Voltamp Transformers Pvt Ltd. has replaced dialysis patient pickup van which was very old.

Kemtron Technologies Private Ltd., Alpha Foundation & India Renal Foundation have adopted 13 dialysis patients, providing financial support for the dialysis procedures, medicines & and surgical interventions.

Oswal & Lions club Club of Baroda have taken up an initiative to make medical services more accessible to interior villages of tribal area. A Mobile Medical Unit is donated, which will serve communities around Chhotaudepur.

SFT is also currently engaged in putting final shape to CSR initiatives for Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. - IL&FS for Livelihood Support, with Gujarat Alkalis and Chemicals Ltd. - GACL to set up Entrepreneurship Development Cell and other corporate houses on various other initiatives. Dr. Gaurang Ranapurwala from SFT Head Office is leading the taskforce for CSR Implementation Initiatives.



Vision

The teaching of Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda:

"Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature. Do this either by work, or worship or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion... Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or books or temples or forms are but secondary details."



Mission

"To assist the village population in improving their productivity, efficiency and creativity through services and goodwill, with the support of industries, academic institutions, voluntary and government agencies and with the guidance of competent and committed experts by knowledge, inputs and effective management of available resources viz. land, water, energy, livestock and people. To upgrade the quality of lives of everyone in the villages: the children, the youth, women, men and the aged, mainly through their own involvement, interest and initiative."

To evolve such a society through transformation of

  • Garibi Mukt (Poverty free )
  • Nyay Yukt (Fair Justice)
  • Shoshan Mukt (Exploitation free )
  • Poshan Yukt (Healthy and Nutritious)
  • Pradushan Mukt (Pollution free)