A UNIQUE social project having international dimensions in the form of building a primary health sub-centre (PHC) in remote tribal village of Jhiri Jamli, Barwani has begun through funding and actual labour of Appleby College of Ontario, Canada and Daly College students.
The State Government also contributed through the Janbhagidari Scheme. Tribal Welfare Minister Vijay Shah and Jail Minister Antar Singh Arya in the presence of Daly College Principal Sumer Singh participated in the foundation stone laying ceremony recently, giving patronage to this one of a kind initiative in the State.
The sleepy little village having about 20 dwellings and a population of about 400 predominated by Braella tribals and having a sprinkling of Bheels got an unexpected boon from the cudgels taken up on their behalf by the students.
The nearest PHC is located in Sendhwa town 27-km south of Jhiri Jamli and due to the long distance and bad condition of roads the tribals living in abject poverty and ages away from modern health care used to take only the seriously ill to the hospital, while treating the others through their own primitive methods.
Not only will the village now be blessed with a PHC but also the place hogged attention when the limelight shifted on it due to the presence of the students.
The ceremony was integrated with a large government camp attended by officials from all major departments. Apart from the PHC and the attention, three major demands of road, High School and a students’ hostel totaling about Rs 1.5 crore were accepted by the ministers. Arya who is also the local MLA missed no opportunity in pursuing the demands with his colleague Shah who is also the Minister in charge for the district.
Shah, in his speech, thanked the DC and Appleby students for their initiative and assured that the PHC would be well used and directed the district health officials to appoint an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM).
He also pointed out the learning for the villagers, officials and government in the path shown by students from two elite schools of working in the deprived areas and said that this learning was a big lesson for them as was the staying and working a big lesson for the students. The custom of marriage and joint family are special attractions.
The kind of welcome given in India seems overwhelming to them because it is spontaneous and joked that even MLAs here get a better welcome than what a President or Prime Minister would be getting in their own country.
Arya being a local connected well with the people and speaking in Nimari told the villagers about the selfless cause of the students who had come across the globe just to help them and in turn be enriched by the Indian experience.
He pointed out that the DC students were translating into Hindi what the Canadian students were saying in English and he in turn was translating it into the local language for their better understanding but this also showed the need for developing education in the tribals.
Collector Arun Tiwari said, “While the government and the people need to realise the needs of the people in the backward areas and try to bring them into mainstream such projects should also be adopted in schools/colleges in the larger cities as the youth of today has become cut off with the villages where the real India lives”.
ADM (Development) and CEO Zillah panchayat Dr Ashok K Bhargava said that as a result of this project the village has got a PHC and the students have in turn derived an important lesson of in dignity of labour.
Devon, a Class XI student from Canada, was floored by the generosity of the people, the food and the culture. She particularly enjoyed the folk dance and music. Team escort Doug S said that every minute spent in India has been a learning experience and the way people can adjust in whatever little they have and with people of all faiths is remarkable.
Louis Blake, who is a teacher accompanying the team, said that most of her opinions about the tribals as well as the country changed after this visit. The most important learning that the team has derived is that the difference between the educated and the unlettered and the rich and the poor and all the rest is imaginary and hardly counts in the way of life.
Avni Bansal, an Old Dalian currently pursuing her degree in Tribal Law, accompanied the team as a volunteer to learn first hand about her subject. She pointed out that the position of women, matriarchal society, the genuine warmth, the zeal to preserve ancient tradition and the way they cling to their culture shows that there is much that can be learnt from tribals.
Instead of changing their clothing and lifestyle, the best that can be done is to provide them with education and basic amenities and leave the doors open for them to adopt to modern culture in their own way.
The total cost of the project is about Rs 5 lakh of which the government has provided 75 percent and DC and Appelby students through fundraisers and charity subscriptions have chipped in the remaining 25 percent. The students who have been in the village from December 4 will depart on December 17.