A mega health camp organized by the Rotary Club of Darjeeling, sponsored by Glenn Family Foundation Helps India & Mayukh Tea was held in Risheehat- a tea estate, on the 20th of November. The camp was held in collaboration with Yuma hospital, Darjeeling and the local community of Risheehat. For a population of 2500, there are two sub health centres in Risheehat, which is supervised by a medical nurse. For medical checkup, the residents visit Darjeeling town which is half an hour away. Risheehat, was therefore a suitable place where medical intervention was the need of the hour. Therefore, after much deliberation and planning for over a month, a mega health camp was planned which came into fruition on the 20th of November 2022.
Mayukh Tea undertook food and logistic responsibilities and the members of the 7 community helped in preparing lunch, tea and snacks for the volunteers. GFF Helps India sponsored medicines as well as water and soft drinks for the volunteers of the event. The beneficiaries were given medicines for free after consultation. The event was successful as the number of target beneficiaries were met, who got their medical needs fulfilled.
14 medical professionals associated with Yuma Hospital provided free service to 534 beneficiaries- ranging from dermatologist, general physicians, gynecologist, ophthalmologist, optometrist, orthopedic, and psychiatrist. The medical camp aimed to target not only the physical wellbeing but also mental- thereby presenting itself as a holistic camp (Mental health is not given much priority in India yet). From the data, it was observed that the number of females were more than the number of male beneficiaries, with a handful of children below 18years of age. More than half of the patients were above the age of 50 years. Orthopedic, general physician and ophthalmologist/optometrist were most visited reflecting high case of eye and bone ailments. Mr. Yugen, coordinator of SOGG Bong Learning centre volunteered in the camp and monitored the blood and sugar level of 220+ patients along with GFF Helps Representatives- Melissa and Nikita, who helped at the registration counter, and monitored the blood pressure levels of concerned individuals as well.
This camp was very much needed in our place. I got my eye tested today. I have called all my family members
to take get themselves checked because we have to go to Darjeeling town which is far and expensive for us.’
On the 17th and 18th of November pickle, vinegar and squash making training was held in the SOGG Learning centre of Pudung. The program was organized by GFF Helps India in collaboration with the Food Processing Unit of Kalimpong. More than 21 female beneficiaries from different Self Help Groups of Pudung took part in the programme. The staff of SOGG centre Pudung volunteered in the two day training programme, which was rewarding.
‘I will definitely put the skill that I have acquired to good use, probably for some financial purposes. Thank you for organizing a programme like this in our village.’
CHILDREN’S DAY CELEBRATIONS- BONG LEARNING CENTRE
Every year on the 14th of November, the birth anniversary of Lt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India is commemorated. Since 1947, his birthday had been a public event although the Indian government officially declared the day as children’s day only 10 years after India gained independence. Due to his love for children, November 14th is observed as Children’s Day in India.
GFF Helps Representative Melissa visited the SOGG Learning centre of Bong to celebrate Children’s Day with the students. Mr. Subash Rai- Assistant teacher shared a few words on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, while Melissa shared words of encouragement and motivation since the final examination of all the students is round the corner. The celebration ended with distributing pies and sweets to the students who were already engaged in their daily studies at the SOGG Learning centre.
In the other SOGG Learning centres of Chibbo and Pudung, the teachers too celebrated Children’s Day by cutting cake and sharing few words of motivation.
‘Thank you for your kind words dear teachers. We will work even harder and make all of you proud.’
HEALTH MONITORING- BONG & CHIBBO LEARNING CENTRE
Focus on health and health related projects have been one of the priorities of GFF Helps India. During the health crisis of 2020, GFF Helps started ‘Health Project’ wherein; the coordinators of SOGG Centres of Bong, Chibbo & Pudung were given Blood Pressure monitoring device as well as glucometer to provide easy access to needy individuals. The staff of SOGG centres was given training initially, after which they have been working at the grassroots level to date.
On the 1st of November, GFF Helps Representative, Ms. Melissa visited Bong to monitor the health project. BP as well as glucose levels of 3 individuals were checked- a 90 year old lady, a 45 year old lady who recently suffered stroke that had led to partial paralysis and her husband- who suffers from high BP. Melissa also visited Chibbo on the 15th of November to monitor the health project. It has observed that monitoring is done keeping in mind hygiene and safety of the patients. The kits are sanitized after regular use and an antiseptic liquid is used to prevent further infection.
The Staff of SOGG centres have been doing commendable job by giving door-to-door service to needy patients. GFF Helps has been providing strips as well as needles for the smooth functioning of the Health Project.
‘Thank you sister Melissa for providing us with the strips and needles. We can ensure hygiene and safety of everyone.’
DISTRIBUTION OF EXAM SUPPLIES
November marks the final month of studies in the academic calendar for most of the schools in Kalimpong, after which students appear for the final examination which determines their progress and promotion to higher class. The syllabus for the examination is comparatively vast; hence GFF Helps Project has reduced the monthly activities with the students. However, to encourage the students to perform better in their final examination, GFF Helps Representatives provided exam supplies. 45 students from Chibbo main centre and sub-centre, 35 students from Bong centre and 40 students of Pudung were given exercise books, pens, pencils and erasers. The students were grateful towards the concern and love of Sir Owen and have promised to work hard and do well academically this term.
‘Thank you Miss Melissa for supplying what the children needed. Some of them cannot afford to purchase a pencil. Thank you Sir. Owen.’
WORKSHOP ON CHILD RIGHTS AND PROTECTION
On the 21st of November, a workshop on Child Rights and Protection was organized by the North Bengal Child Rights NGO Network and Darjeeling District Administration. GFF Helps India Representative, Nikita attended the one day workshop in Darjeeling. Most of the NGOs working in the field of children from North Bengal area took part in the program which was informative and helpful. The main objective of the program was to celebrate ‘Child Rights Week’, to keep children below 18 years of age safe in the community. Another important topic covered in the workshop was on ‘Abuse’- definition and types. The importance of ‘Child Rights’ and the protection of children from 0-18 years were also discussed. It was informed that NGOs, Administration, ICDS workers, community counselors and each individual are deemed responsible for the protection of children.
Joe FisherGFF India engages and empower with the community
The SOGG Learning centres of Bong, Chibbo and Pudung have been in function for more than a decade. The Open Learning and Information centres are used not only by the students but the community as a whole for various productive purposes. For awareness programs, training sessions, health camps, etc- these centres act as the main venue- where beneficiaries gather under one roof and a host of activities are organized.
For the smooth and efficient functioning of the centres, maintenance is deemed necessary. GFF Helps India has been on the forefront for the upkeep of the centres. In the month of August, SOGG learning centres of Bong and Chibbo received support from GFF Helps India for maintenance work- plastering of the centre walls as well as repair of main gate. The staff of respective SOGG learning centres volunteered in the process that has helped to achieve good results, which is a reflection of strong team work and good coordination among the beneficiaries. It has also helped instill a sense of ownership- that will help in the proper use of the centres and the resources.
TEACHERS DAY CELEBRATED ON 5TH SEPTEMBER 2022
On the 5th of September, every year in India, Teacher’s Day is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and therefore to appreciate the contribution made by teachers to society. Dr. Radhakrishnan was a renowned scholar, recipient of Bharat Ratna Award, first Vice-President, and second President of independent India. On the occasion of Teacher’s day, the students of SOGG Learning centres of Bong, Chibbo & Pudung honored their respective teachers by putting up a cultural performance, offering Khadas or traditional scarf and presenting a token of appreciation.
GFF Helps India representatives happened to be in Pudung for Mobile Library project, and they too were felicitated by the students. The sight of senior students guiding the juniors, team work and their contribution in the program is a marker of good guidance and teachings.
IL&FS IN CHIBBO
IL&FS is one of the largest talent development centres that attract young talent from the rural areas of Northeast India. The main aim of the centre has been to provide local people with skills development and employment opportunities. GFF Helps has been working in collaboration with IL&FS for many years- organizing awareness programs for the beneficiaries of SOGG Learning centres of Bong, Chibbo and Pudung. These programs help in empowering women, providing job security to young adults and employment opportunities in various sectors.
On the 9th of September, an awareness program under the leadership of Ms. Mamta Chettri of IL&FS was held, wherein more than 35 women members of different Self Help Groups took active part. Information on Nursing, Tailoring, Health and Wellness were covered and disseminated.
The participants of the session were keen on the training program offered by IL&FS. As a follow up of the session, the coordinatior of Chibbo Learning Centre will be further coordinating with the staff of IL&FS.
LEGAL AWARENESS IN BONG
Although Kalimpong is a picturesque hill station, it is not devoid of social evils. To educate the local residents, a legal literacy program was held in Bong village on the 9th of September. The aim of the session has been to empower the poor and disadvantaged sections of society to seek and demand justice services. The key resource person of the program was Mr. Bishal Mangrati, Secretary of District Legal Services Authority. More than 40 local residents of Deorali, Bong took part in the session wherein many of their doubts were clarified.
Through this program, we hope the participants of the program can demand accountability, justice and effective remedies at all levels in unforeseen circumstances. Such useful information will help realize their problems and can thus procure justice through legal means.
Joe FisherGFF HELPS INDIA BUILDS ON MAKING STRONGER SOCIETIES
GFF Helps India in collaboration with the Partner Organization (PO) SOGG L&I Centre started the Newspaper Project on the 1st of August 2022, in SOGG L&I Centre, Bong & Pudung Village and on the 18th of August in SOGG L&I Centre, Chibbo. Keeping in mind one of the main aims of the PO i.e. to provide information to the community, the newspaper project was started. There are two newspapers issued every day, The Telegraph (National) in English and Himalaya Darpan (Local) in Nepali. This project not only targets the students of the centres but also the community at large.
People have already started to benefit from the project. Students read the newspapers after their school while the elderly people read during the day time. The local and national news and information has now reached the Centres and is available to all.
“Gives students the power to express themselves through multi- literacy modes.”
During the monsoon season, plants & weeds tend to grow in a faster pace. Timely maintenance needs to be done in order to keep the environment clean and safe for children from insects and snakes. Hence, GFF Helps India Team in collaboration with SOGG Chibbo organized a cleanliness drive on the 13th of August, in SOGG Centre Chibbo.
Cleanliness drives are held regularly in all the SOGG centres. The students and parents have been aware of the importance of keeping the centre premises clean. Therefore the parents and students themselves volunteer to clean and make the drive successful every time. This kind of community involvement has built attachment towards the Centre and GFF.
GFF INDIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY
India celebrated its 75th Independence Day on 15th August 2022. Like every year this year too, GFF Helps India in collaboration with SOGG Centres celebrated the occasion in the respective Centres. In Pudung, students and teachers along with the Centre Incharge and the Coordinator gathered in the Centre early morning and hoisted the National flag. National Anthem “Jana gana…” was sung. The teachers of the centre shared information about the special day. At the end the students were distributed sweets to remark a happy and a proud day. Similarly in the other Centres as well the Independence Day was celebrated. This way the students have been able to learn and gain knowledge.
DIGITAL LIBRARY PROJECT
With the increase in use of technology in every sphere of life and to cope up with the digital era, the need of internet connection and digital library in the Centres was felt. On the same day of the 75th Independence Day, the Digital Library Project was inaugurated by GFF Helps India in SOGG Centre, Chibbo. Digital libraries provide the students with the convenience of learning at their own comfort. Children and students of our villages do not own computers and laptops at an individual level. With the increase of school assignment, forms and other information that can only be found in the internet, it is necessary that we provide the facility at the Centres. The facility can be benefited by everyone in the village. We will be also brining a teacher who will guide the student in learning how to use computer and internet. Hence, we are now towards making our partner organization well equipped not only for the students but for the whole community.
Joe FisherGFF Helps India engages with Education, Cleanliness and
On 5th June, students from BalKumari community school gathered on the occasion of ‘World Environment Day’. Several activities observing this special occasion, was conducted, such as: Clean-up campaign and group art work. Valuing the importance of the children’s educational classes in school, the sessions were conducted on two separate days one for each event. The excitement to both work and learn outside the classroom has always kept children interested and they have valued it.
“I really enjoyed doing the activity”.
STORYTELLING SESSION IN BONG, CHIBBO AND PUDUNG
BY MS. MINKET LEPCHA
In order to keep the local stories alive Ms. Minket has been sharing stories based on nature and culture. During the CoVID19 pandemic, GFF Helps India along with her (GFF Helps Nepal Volunteer) conducted online storytelling sessions for the children of India and Nepal. For the first time children of Kalimpong got the opportunity to hear her stories in person. The session was held in all the 3 SOGG centres namely Deorali, Chibbo, Pudung and sub centre Kameshi. There she shared a story on Totola (medicinal flower) and Yeti. Along with the story, activities were also conducted based on meditation, self reflection and gratitude towards nature. A total of 60 students participated. The sessions were held in the evening time after the school hours. After the 2 hour session, children were happy to have learnt about a new story about their locally found Totola. Children were happier when they received a Totola flower from Ms. Minket as a gift of nature.
“Stories tend to die if not shared with the upcoming generations”
Stories braiding through Nepal, India and Philippines
The online storytelling session is a collaborative project of GFF Helps Nepal and India since 2020. The former volunteer of GFF Helps Nepal introduced this project during the CoVID19 lockdown keeping in mind children’s mental health. Children from different places of India and Nepal attended the sessions. The 2nd season of the online storytelling session began in June 2021. Since then both the teams of India and Nepal has been conducting the sessions alternatively. The storytelling sessions include important lessons and activities apart from storytelling. In India a school counselor Ms. Prashanna Sherpa has volunteered to conduct the sessions. She mostly engages children with fun activities. Children look forward to her fun session every weekend.
“Gain knowledge through mindfulness and active learning”.
Counselor and and children during the session.
Ms. Prashanna conducting the online storytelling session.
Ms. Prashanna Sherpa interacting with the children during a session.
A group of children from India and Nepal team became a part of group storytelling in the month of November. The session focused on enhancing children’s capacity speak in a second language (English). The storytelling session allows children to use their imagination and widen it’s scope. Children have been both avid listeners and fantastic storytellers’, as children from both countries meet and interact virtually on Saturdays’ a bond of friendship and connectedness has been another special thing about the storytelling sessions.
Group Storytelling Session
Widening the scope for imagination
Children from India and Nepal participate in a group storytelling. Using their creative imagination, they engage virtually but, connect through stories of their own.
GFF Helps Intern- Ms. Asbina Rai engages in the storytelling session with the children.
Workshop on healthcare by Dr. Sonali Vaid in Bong, Chibbo and Pudung villages
Covid 19 awareness and basic healthcare
Dr. Sonali interacting answering to the participants.
GFF Helps India Reps going to the field location for Dr. Sonali’s workshop in Chibbo village
Dr. Sonali Vaid, a Public Health specialist has been volunteering to spreadawareness and knowledge on CoVID19 and basic healthcare. During her visit to Kalimpong, GFF Helps India representatives met Dr. Sonali who volunteered to visit Bong, Chibbo and Pudung. It was a good opportunity for the India team to take her to the villages and educate people on basic healthcare and CoVID19.
Joe FisherGFF Helps India supporting, creating awareness and spreading joy
Coach Ujjwal from Share FC interacting with participants during a session
GFF Helps India has been working in the area of sports for children and youths since its inception. Mr. Joe Fisher, the former GFF Helps India Representative during 2018 coached some young people of Chibbo village on Football. Last year when the pandemic hit the world and there were lockdowns everywhere, Joe came forward to encourage the children and young football enthusiasts of Kalimpong through online sessions.
The Kalimpong NGO Network (KANGON) which is a consort of all the NGOs registered in Kalimpong, organized a private paid vaccination camp on the 21st of July and 2nd August 2021, for the concerned residents of Kalimpong town. This vaccination drive was organized by Kalimpong Covid 19 Support Team (of KANGON) in association with Medica North Bengal clinic. This camp was held in Rockvale Academy, 9th mile Kalimpong and was inaugurated by the Superintendent of Police Mr. Pai.
The superintendent of Police visiting the registration counter
The registrants noting down the required details
The drive commenced a week in advance with the registration process with the setting up of 4 registration counters. In order to provide ease, the first 300 registrants were given a subsidy of Rs. 180 by Kalimpong Covid 19 Support Team, while the rest had to pay the full amount of Rs. 780.
In total, 640 individuals from Kalimpong above 18 years were vaccinated by 10 professional nurses of Medica North Bengal Clinic. While majority of the individuals received their first jab of Covishield, there were few who had come for their second vaccination.
Elderly citizens were jabbed in their respective cars
After receiving the jab, the individuals were taken to an observation room
Most of the NGOs took active part in the vaccination drive and were assigned duties, which ensured smooth implementation of the programme. GFF Helps India Representatives took the charge of the registration process while the members of SOGG Bong, Chibbo and Pudung villages actively volunteered in logistics and photo documentation.
Volunteers from SOGG Bong, Chibbo and Pudung taking the concerned individuals for the vaccination.
Several booths were set up to ensure the safety of everyone
Joe FisherVACCINATION DRIVE WITH KALIMPONG NGO NETWORK (KANGON)
It’s been a year since the virus has blanketed the world. Covid-19 has affected individuals of every race, class, color, religion, gender and the like. While we await the development of an efficacious vaccine, it is important to boost the immune system- an important option to tackle the disease. Studies have shown that people who eat well balanced diet tend to be healthier. More than 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates said: “Letfood be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Consuming fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and other compounds puts one at lower risk of chronic illness and infectious diseases. Maintaining good nutritional status can help fight against the virus. Immune health can be obtained and maintained by following a healthy diet as well as regular exercise.
Willyn CarrascalVegetable Garden Project: Prize Distribution