“I am Salamma from Parvathadevarapalli village in Mamillapalli area. When I came to this village as a daughter in -law, my husband and my father in-law were working in farmers’ houses as contract labour. With the savings from his wages my father in-law bought some land. Of course, it was a dry land. There were bushes and boulders in it. We did not have good rains and we never cultivated it. Therefore, all the family members including me continued as wage labourers.
Meanwhile, I became a member of RDT’s women sangham. I also became a group leader. I had the opportunity to avail a loan from the women’s development fund and bought milche animals. I sold milk. With that money, I bought 5 acres of irrigated land. I continued to sell milk and got some more income. With that, I cleared our dry land of boulders and bushes and made it cultivable. Now we have 270 mango plants in half of the wet land and are growing tomatoes in the other half. We are also growing millets in the dry land. With these initiatives, I became the leading farmer in my family ahead of my husband and father in-law. I am proud of that. Of course, my husband helps me in spraying pesticides, riding the bullock cart and transporting the crops. I have 3 daughter and 2 sons. The daughters are married and sons are still studying. It gives me immense pleasure to have become a farmer in the same village where I was once a labourer.”
Excessive post- natal bleeding is one of the primary causes of maternal deaths in our country. Approximately, 68,500 mothers are dying for this very reason. That is 99% of maternal deaths. If one of those mothers is HIV positive, the situation can be terrible.
One such mother (we cannot reveal her name for obvious reasons) came to RDT hospital at Bathalapalli after 40 weeks of pregnancy. She was a primy. There was every chance of a risk delivery. More so because no doctor ever examined her during those 40 weeks. Fortunately, the delivery was normal and the baby was safe. But her real suffering started after that. There was continuous bleeding from the uterus. It was very difficult to control it. She became unconscious and struggled to breathe. Blood pressure fell drastically. Then she was given oxygen, platelets, vitamin K and a necessary acid. She was shifted to ICU. She regained consciousness but was still in a drowsy state and continued to struggle breathing. An apparatus that supports the heart was arranged and artificial breath was provided through ventilator. Antibiotics were also given. All other services normally provided in an ICU were given to her. After fighting with death for 3 days, she ultimately came alive to the relief of doctors and medical staff.
To prevent such dangers, every pregnant woman must have monthly medical checkups. More importantly, should not hurry home soon after delivery because real danger lurks after delivery. Therefore mothers, their families, doctors and hospitals must always be on the alert.
– Skills training is the way to progress for persons with disabilities (PWD)
Since 1996, RDT ran primary schools and later secondary schools for children with visual and hearing impairments. The physically disabled children studied in their own villages and completed secondary education. As every new development brings a new problem, we noticed that the number of unemployed young men and women with disabilities in the villages is on the increase. It was then that RDT decided that we could send them to cities to learn new skills like soft skills, personality development, cash based management skills, small businesses, modern technical skills, computer skills, communication skills, beautician and interior decoration courses, technical assistance, gardening, hospitality etc. There are a number of institutes which provide these skills and courses in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. So far 402 youth completed various courses (of 3 to 6 months duration) and 212 are employed. They are earning on average Rs. 12,000 per month. Having seen these developments, more PWD youth are coming forward to take these courses. Let us listen to Nagaraju about his story:
“I am Nagaraju, aged 26 from Rudrampalli village of Kundurpi Mandal. When I was 1 year old, I was polio affected. I managed to study up to Intermediate but had to stop there due to poor family economic condition. I tried for some job but did not succeed. Then I got the opportunity to do a 3 months training in business processing outsources course, and courses in communication skills, customer relationship skills, soft skills and work culture course. Following that, I got the job of a business promoter in D.G. call center in Bengaluru. I earn Rs. 11,000 per month. My wife works in a textile shop and earns Rs. 7,500 per month. We are planning to give good education to our daughter. We are a happy family now.”
‘Gram Swarajya Nidhi’ is the brainchild of Father Vincent Ferrer. It was his vision that every poor community in a village should have a common fixed deposit in the bank according to the number of families in that community. As the deposit remains fixed, the annual interest on the deposit must be used every year for a purpose that is useful to the whole community as much as possible. So far 988 villages with a total of 65,395 families have such a deposit. That amounts to Rs. 130.80 crores. With facilitation from RDT village communities have been using it for different purposes like drinking water, electricity, roads, bathrooms, drainages, compound walls around school building etc.
The story of Chadam village:
Chadam village comprises 299 families of SC, BC & OC communities. The population is 1406. Earlier this village was ridden with clashes between different castes to the detriment of village development. However, Gram Swarajya Nidhi became a boon to them. Determined to put an end to disunity, the Grama Sabha came together in 2016 and decided that a compound wall should be built around the community school building with the annual interest on ‘Gram Swarjya Nidhi’. They did not stop there. In the following years, they hired 4 water tankers to transport drinking water from outside the village for 105 days to survive the critical summer days. They spent Rs. 2,63,250 for this. Similarly, the spent another Rs. 1,17,500 to provide 25 LED bulbs for street poles to dispel the darkness and thereby, the hatred in the village.
RDT has been working with Chenchu tribals in the Nallamala forest areas around Srisailam since 2009. The drinking water situation and sanitation was very poor in the tribal hamlets both in the interior forest as well as in the plains around the forest. A special health mission was the need of the hour. A team of health organizers was first sent to provide necessary health awareness and basic primary health care in the ‘chenchu gudems’. A batch of literate young women was trained as community health workers to care for children and mothers. However, the non-availability of doctors in and around the forest area was badly felt. Finally in 2015, RDT started a mini hospital at Mannanur in Achampeta area in Nagar Kurnool district of Telangana state. But still, people had to travel long distances to come to the hospital. We needed to go to the homes of the people. Therefore, a mobile clinic was also started soon after. The mobile clinic has a doctor, nurses and medicines.
Dr. Saifulla khan and Dr. Ayesha work in mini hospital and Dr. Khuddoos works for the mobile clinic. Some patients who availed the services of both the hospital and the mobile clinic have this to say:
“My name is Nanu naik. I am 69. My wife died long ago and I am living alone. I did not even know that I was a diabetic until I had a wound in my leg. It became very painful and some people frightened me that my leg will be amputated. Then I came to know about Mannanur hospital and went there. They treated me for two months. Now my wound has disappeared and I am alright.”
“I am Pothamma from Maddimadugu village. One day, as I was hunting, two arrows pierced into my body, one into my stomach and one into my thigh. I fell unconscious and when I opened my eyes I was in the hospital. The doctors gave me medicines and injections immediately. Later they also did a surgery on me to remove the arrows. I am damn lucky to be still alive.”
“I am Lingamma aged 26. I come from Appapur penta. I was pregnant and did not go to any hospital until time came for me to deliver the baby. That is when I first saw Mannanur hospital. I had a normal delivery and a female baby weighing 2.5kgs. I was kept in the hospital for 2 more days and received very good care before I went home.”
“I am Dr. Khuddoos, who work in the mobile clinic. The chenchus in and around Nallamala forest have to travel long distances and spend a lot of money when they are sick. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we go to them. Whenever we go to a ‘gudem’ or ‘penta’ (Telugu names for tribal hamlets), we do blood investigations for all who are sick. We diagnosis the disease then and there and give them necessary medicines. We take the more seriously sick persons to Mannanur hospital for further treatment. In the last one year, our mobile clinic has served 6621 adults and 2603 children. More than the numbers, it gives me great satisfaction to go to their doorstep and rescue them in their hour of need.”
RDT has been sending promising talented young men and women to colleges of music and dance for the last 10 years. Some studied vocal music and some mrudangam. There were also two Bharata Natyam students. But no one tried Ghatam, a Karnatic classical percussion instrument until Meesala Nagaraju came on the scene. Nagaraju is from Kesepalli village in Narpala Mandal of Anantapur district. His parents were agricultural labourers. When he joined Sri Venkateswara College of music and dance in Tirupathi, he too was thinking of learning mrudangam like many of his friends. But his gurus in RDT and in the college encouraged him to go for this special instrument. Ghatam artistes are a rare breed nowadays. Mr. Ushtnam Raja Rao, his Ghatam master not only taught him the art in the college but also took him to his concerts to Chennai, Hyderabad, Tirupathi and Kerala. Soon enough Nagaraju became an expert Ghatam player. As one of the very few Ghatam players around and an expert at that, Nagaraju is giving many concerts with many esteemed co artistes. His parents are proud and delighted. Calling from Tirupathi, Nagaraju expressed his joy not only about his success but also for being a great support to his once poor parents.