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2021 New Year Report

Prabhatalloi Foundation


New Year Report 2021


Here in Purulia—just as for everyone else, everywhere—life in 2020 was

dominated by the consequences of the pandemic. When the lockdowns first

began in March, Prabhatalloi Foundation acted to address some immediate

worries by beginning a relief programme to visit needy homes in villages around

Dabar: delivering individual packages which consisted of food, household

supplies, sanitizers and a little cash. Preparing meals from home helps keep the

bonds of family and community strong during tough times. Because Prabhatalloi

Foundation is a small and independent organisation, we can often move more

quickly and flexibly than government or other larger voluntary organizations.


The lockdowns are now less restrictive—the immediate crisis has passed—so our

emphasis has switched to recovery, in particular to providing employment. We are

providing jobs working on projects aimed at generating future income for the

foundation, such as a wholesale vegetable business and running an ashram for

paying visitors. Also, the government has asked Tinku to organise these three

projects which aim to help stimulate the local economy: organizing road

improvements, establishing and running an information centre at the main hospital

in Purulia and advising a group of local women on their self-help project to start a

new canteen at the hospital. Throughout the lockdowns, we have been continuing

to pay salaries to the around fifty staff whom we employ permanently.


Health and Medical Centre


We have always run a free medical centre for local individual consultations and to

arrange their treatment where necessary. Happily, this month Dr. Soma has been

able to restart her popular regular Sunday medical consultations. She provides an

examination and diagnosis, and prescribes medicine. Both are provided free of

charge. Where necessary, she can refer patients for specialist advice, and we

arrange their appointments and treatment. We need to replace our supplies of

medicine, which are now past their safe usage dates. The government has now

approved a budget for us to organise and staff a help desk at the main hospital in

Purulia which will guide people through the maze of getting medical treatment.


School


From the beginning, we have also run a primary school which runs in parallel with

government schools, aiming to give poor children an extra boost. We also arrange

free additional tuition for secondary school pupils. Because of the pandemic, all

schools are still shut down, including ours. We bought mobile phones for some of

the needy students we support so that they can participate in online classes.


Boys hostel


We run a hostel for needy children whose parents are too poor, are in bad health

or have to migrate away from home to find work. Unfortunately, when the

lockdowns started and all the schools closed, we had to send the hostel boys home. In fact, this did not reduce our costs because we now have to support their

families too—the lockdowns don’t permit their parents to work.


Nabakustashram (Leprosy ashram)


During 2020 we installed gas for cooking and provided outdoor lighting powered

by batteries charged from solar panels. Because we recently lost two friends living

at Nabakusthashram, we set up an oxygen supply on-site for emergencies. We

also provided new mobile phones so that people there can contact us directly and

quickly. We employ nine people there: 3 cooks, 2 nurses, 2 carers for bandaging

and 2 caretakers.


Vegetable wholesaling


In 2020-21 we are starting a wholesale organic vegetable business. We employed

six local people to prepare the field, plant the first crop and five others to dig a new

well for irrigation. A permanent employee provides daily watering and care. When

vegetables are ripe and ready for sale, we’ll employ people for harvesting and

selling. Local women who sell door to door can choose to buy from us and will no

longer be forced to travel by night trains to buy from wholesalers in other towns.

By erecting greenhouses we can count on several harvests a year.


Local employment


We added two additional guest houses next to the school, to accommodate paying

visitors, and upgraded the kitchen. We laid pavements, planted decorative flowers

and stocked the pond with fish. This project employed many workers, who were

glad to earn some money. Some local artists took the opportunity to create murals

and paintings on the walls. We now pay regular salaries to four more people to

take cook and serve the visitors now coming to the new ashram. When training

becomes possible again, we shall send two of the younger men to learn the hotel

trade at the local college. One of our former hostel boys has just got married, so

we arranged his training as a mobile phone engineer.


Some young boys in Dabar asked Tinku for work, so he gave them jobs on our

tree planting project.


The government asked Tinku to organize their project to improve the roads

leading into and out of Dabar. Tinku arranged for fifty workers from nearby tribal

villagers for the work. We arrange their food, and they sleep overnight at our

Community Centre. At night, they make their own entertainment, singing and

dancing and playing their instruments.


The government supplied us with a budget to create and run an information centre

to guide new patients arriving at the Purulia main hospital. In a separate project at

the same hospital, Tinku is also advising a self-help project of local women who

will plan and run a canteen to serve visitors and staff.


Hopes for 2021


This year we still need to budget for relief directed at individuals and families in

crisis because of the effects of the lockdowns. We hope and expect the numbers

will be lower than last year as restrictions are being eased and a vaccination

programme will be starting.


In 2021 we will continue partner with new government initiatives to stimulate the

local economy and foster employment. How much we can implement our own

initiatives will depend on our success in raising funds. For 2021 our plans include:

erecting greenhouses for our wholesale vegetable business, which will make

possible several harvests each year; expanding our community centre by building

a second level; and continuing our tree planting project. We also have to budget

for providing relief to individuals and families in crisis due to the lockdowns.


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