This is the story of Amjhar village, which went from a village with electricity issues, limited water supply and most children being out of school, to being prosperous and child-friendly within just a few years.
Situated around 120 kilometres away from the district headquarters, Amjhar, a tribal-dominant village of Giridih district in Jharkhand has witnessed a miraculous transformation that did not just bring infrastructural development into the village but also changed the lives of the residents.
When we started working in the village in 2016, a major challenge that was faced was the language barrier. With almost the entire village having a tribal population, the language spoken there was Santhali. This was a major problem for children, who would often drop out of school because they could not understand their teachers who spoke Hindi. Instead of going to schools, the children accompanied their parents to Mica mines to collect Mica scraps.
Our staff faced a similar problem in communication. However, there was one staff who understood the language so he was given the task to implement the Bal Mitra Gram programme in the village. Soon, the community members started speaking Hindi.
We were able to convince parents to send their children to schools and the children were motivated to attend classes regularly through fun activities like games, dance and music.
Once the children were withdrawn from labour and started going to school, the next step was the overall development of the village.
The first step was to improve the situation of the schools and Anganwadi where children spend most time of their day. To ensure security in the school, a bamboo fence was installed around the school premises with the help of villagers. The next step was having a separate Anganwadi centre for younger children. As there was a lack of a separate building, the Anganwadi centre was run inside the school building. However, the school building only had three rooms, two for classrooms and one office. This created a lot of problems for the younger children. An application was submitted to the district administration to construct a separate Anganwadi centre in 2017 following which the building was made.
The second major issue faced by the villagers was the electricity supply issue. The electricity connection in the village was disconnected around 8 to 10 years ago. It was restored a few months before we started working there and an inflated bill of Rs. 30,000 to Rs.40,000 was sent to every household. Our team, along with community members reached out to the government officials to waive off the bill.
To solve the water crisis, we installed a tubewell in the village and ensured the repair of damaged tubewells and installation of a water tank of 1000 litres capacity in the village as a part of the water supply programme of the government. Today, every household in the Panchayat has access to the large water tank.
As Amjhar is situated in a remote area, ensuring vaccination for children was a problem. The issue was resolved by initiating discussions with the officer-in-charge of the health department and regular vaccination service is not being provided in the village. Also, arrangements were made for maternal health services including the introduction of Mamta Vahan (a form of ambulance for pregnant women).
To ensure a better livelihood for villagers, youth group members were provided vocational skill training to encourage them to start their own businesses. Assistance was also provided in availing benefits under government schemes such as the Prime Minister's Housing Scheme, Matri Vandana Yojana, Pension Scheme, Ration Cards, and the Ujjwala Yojana.
With these efforts, today, the Amjhar village has witnessed a facelift and the lives of not just children but also the adults in the village have transformed for the better.