Surrounded by dense forests, Kundi is one of the mica mining villages in Jharkhand that shares its border with Bihar state. Once upon a time, it was one of the most impoverished villages in the mica mining areas and lacked basic amenities like water supply, schools and roads. Government schemes had not reached the village when we started working there in 2020.
When our team first reached the village to implement its BMG (Child-Friendly Village) programme, they found that instead of going to schools, children were engaged in mica scrap collection along with their parents. Digging further into the cause behind this, we found that the village by itself had no schools, and the nearest school was located at least seven kilometres away.
The villagers informed that the construction of a building for a primary school started in the village in 2012 but was never completed. The operation of the half-constructed school also started and 74 children were enrolled as per records, but no child ever attended the school. The reason behind this was the lack of teachers, and no provision of midday meals, study material or any other facility.
We started working with the community members and soon wrote an application to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), following which in January 2021, NCPCR issued a direction to the district administration to submit an update on the status of the school. Soon, the school was made functional and in three years between 2020 and 2023, 148 children were enrolled. At present, all children of the village are attending the school regularly.
Additionally, our team worked with the communities and school management committee of Upgraded Middle School Kundi to repair two classrooms which benefitted 140 children. The School Management Committee fund of INR 5,000 and community donation of INR 25,000 were utilised in the classroom renovation. This shows the ownership and accountability, the BMG can inbuilt among the communities on children’s education.
Apart from educational support, we also worked towards providing medical support, infrastructural support and linkages with government schemes to the villagers.
Malaria and diarrhoea were common health issues in the Kundi village. Lack of access to medical care for the people led to many fatalities especially, among women and children in the village. The situation was such that in case there was an ill person in the village, they had to be carried for around 10 kilometres before they could even reach the main road from where a vehicle could be hired to go to the nearest medical facility centre.
When we started working in the village, it was found that malaria claimed at least 3-4 lives every year. In December 2020, there was another malaria outbreak in the village when we promptly organized a meeting and informed the Health Department. However, due to the area having Left Wing Extremist (LWE) influence, the department refused to send a team.
Subsequently, our team contacted the District Health Department officials and submitted an application. The Health Department then formed an 8-member team, which organized a health camp in Kundi on December 9, 2020. During this camp, DDT spraying was conducted in every household, and free treatment and medicine were provided to a total of 145 villagers. Additionally, 190 free mosquito nets were distributed by the Vector Control Department. Through our efforts, it was ensured that the Health Department would conduct village visits every week, and a camp would be organized once a month.
In July 2021, there was an outbreak of diarrhoea in the village. Within 25 days, three community people including, two children succumbed due to lack of treatment.
The BMG team requested Dr Devrat Kumar, the Medical Officer In Charge (MOIC) to organise a health camp to check the diarrhoea and malaria situation in Kundi village. On the advice of MOIC, the BMG team submitted a list of 29 symptomatic persons to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) for treatment. However, the MOIC and Primary Health Centre (PHC) did not take action on the letter and the list. Our team brought this incident to the attention of the Giridih Deputy Commission and Jharkhand State Health Minister through social media. As a result, the following steps were taken -
• 117 people were examined for diarrhoea and malaria.
• 35 children received treatment for diarrhoea and malaria
• 19 Newborn children received vaccinations
• Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) with insecticide was done in the village
• An expecting and unwell woman was admitted to the PHC for treatment
• The doctors started visiting the village fortnightly and conducted medical examinations of ailing people
Being situated in a remote area, Kundi village lacked even the basic infrastructural facilities like water infrastructure and roads. We supported in development and repair of 11 water infrastructures in the village to provide access to water for people. This included the repair of 2 handpumps, the installation of one water tank and a Reverse Osmosis System in the government school. The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation installed 6 handpumps through Jal Nal Yojana. Also, the Gram Panchayat repaired one well and constructed a pond.
With our efforts, the government worked on laying down four roads to increase the connectivity within and outside the village. This included –
● 100 ft plain cement road of Kundi Dhabiya Valley
● 400 ft. plain cement road on Kundi hill
● 100 ft fiber block road to Upgraded Middle School
● 100 ft Road from pond to Devi Mandap
Facilitating Linkages with Government Welfare Programmes
As many as 240 individuals were linked with the government welfare schemes programmes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (housing programme), old age pension, widow pension, and Savitribai Phule Kishori Samridhi Yojana (education support), and government identity cards to access these programmes.