Today’s meeting was called in order to discuss the next plan of action regarding Ramavaram as well as Sangam India itself. Several of our members have raised concerns regarding our ability to provide relief and support for these people without becoming a crutch and crippling their independence further. Upon some deliberation, we have decided that immediate food relief is not a necessity, since they do have money to provide for themselves and their families. Since our funds are also limited, it does not make sense for us to give something that can come from another source. More importantly, it is essential that these people understand their responsibilities and do not shirk them. Alcohol consumption and a total disregard for the welfare of their families is becoming more and more rampant among the men, and we need to be careful not to encourage that sort of behavior.
Having said all of that, we also need to focus on what it is that we CAN do for these people at this point – what is our area of expertise and what is that we can provide that they will not get elsewhere? We have decided that the two areas where we will currently focus are a)health care and health education and b) clothing distribution. We will also help them with a gift hamper containing some basics for their homes, but not immediately.
We are planning a visit tomorrow where we will de-worm everyone, since they are living in close quarters with absolutely no sanitary facilities, and we will check all the children for malnutrition. In addition, we will provide some basic health education regarding precautions they need to take while they are in this position. We do need doctors for this, so if you are interested, please let us know.
Food, clothing and shelter are the three basic human needs, and of the three only food has been taken care of. Clothing is not as urgent as originally perceived, but would certainly help them. More information on a clothing distribution this weekend will be provided soon. We have heard a couple of suggestions on providing a tent to protect the people from the elements, but we are not sure yet how that will be undertaken.
Finally, the most important concept that came out of the meeting was the importance of self-reliance and empowerment. If we continue to do all the work for them, the ultimate purpose of Sangam India’s existence is lost. It is important that we guide them towards empowering themselves and representing themselves in the face of difficulty. We have identified one man, Mr. Pitchaimani, who can represent his community well. The members of the community accept his leadership. We will be working with him on speaking to government officials as well as on teaching the people to avail themselves of everything that the government offers them.
Organizationally speaking, we have decided that in these matters, we do need to request the assistance of other NGO’s in the area who work in these fields and have more experience than us. It is important that we do not bite off more than we can chew, and that we go about achieving our goals in the right way. If you know of any local NGOs that can help us in this, please do let us know.
Lastly, things are starting to settle down regarding Ramavaram. We are planning to keep our disaster management team working on this, and early next week we will start working towards identifying a new slum to work in, based on the extent of their need. Suggestions on where we can look are welcome. To do this, we need to expand our volunteer base, so please help us spread the word, especially within Chennai.
As usual, any thoughts, suggestions, ideas, comments or questions are welcome.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.