|Stories of hope
For over a decade now, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams of Essel Mining & Industries Limited (EMIL) have been serving the poorest of the poor in the remote districts of Keonjhar and Sundergarh in Odisha. We have been striving to bring in social transformation through initiatives in education, sustainable livelihood, healthcare, social causes and infrastructure development.
We plan our projects in a participatory manner, in consultation with the community, literally sitting with them and fleshing out their basic needs. Subsequently, based on a consensus, we prioritise the requirements, and thus a project is born. We try and ensure that while in the short-term we do enormous hand-holding, the projects become sustainable by the beneficiaries in the long haul.
At EMIL, we work to create "model villages", which means ensuring self-reliance in all aspects -- education, healthcare and family welfare, infrastructure, agriculture and working towards sustainable livelihood patterns. EMIL has adopted Gurubeda (Block Joda), Kasia (Barbil) and Koira (Sundargarh district) for transformation into model villages.
There is a lot of ground work prior to initiating the sustainable livelihood programme. To start off, we conduct a survey to gauge what is best for the village, from which our programmes evolve.
In this context we saw that often the employment potential of the villagers was untapped. Training the rural youth through the ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) – motor winding, screen printing, electrical and electronics repair – offers sufficient scope for employment in industries as well as self-employment. This initiative has already seen some bright youngsters setting up their own enterprises or working elsewhere.
We believe that self help groups are a meaningful way of empowering women. We endeavour to develop entrepreneurial competencies among self help groups, enabling them to identify business opportunities and equip them with skills to establish and run a micro enterprise. Presently, our successful entrepreneurs manufacture white phenyl and soap; run milk parlours; keep goats; practice pisciculture; manage poultry projects; set up tent houses; perform rice processing and farming activities.
While we have made a small beginning, over a period of time, we hope to see the changed face of these villages – freedom from poverty and dependence, and integration into mainstream society.