Posts which have been tagged with: community centers.

Rajkala in Paris.

Rajkala speaking to french supporters.


On november 10th Rajkala – the founder and president of Sharana – came to Paris to meet about 150 supporter from France. Throughout the event which took place at l’Eglise Réformée de la Rencontre, Rajkala spoke about the status of the current programs and illustrated this with plenty of moving case studies and stories from the field. Moreover her presentation discussed four focal points Sharana will have in the time to come: Expanding rural development, ensuring the right to education, developing vocational training and leading more children to higher education.


Some of the slides which were presented throughout the day:


Impressive facts and figures.



Majority of donations come under the collective sponsorship program and were spent mainly in the village program of Mathur, followed by Angalakuppam.


In the section „Vision“ Rajkala pointed out, how important it is using the already existing social centers and building facilities to provide more community members with greater access to educational, health, sanitation and training rescources. Expanding the micro-credit programms in the villages will support this goal. Beside that Sharana will focus more on the development of ist human resources among the existing Sharana staff and build capacities, develop skills and ensure that staff undergoes appropriate professional training necessary for their ever more demanding jobs. Finally Rajkala pointed out, that the development of new partnerships will be crucial to continue the successful work. Partnering with government agencies in india, partnering also with international development agencies (i.e. ADMCF, AFID, Tulane University). Already today Sharana maintains partnerships with organisations in the US, UK, the Netherlands and Germany – not to speak about the strong ties Sharana has to its French parter organisation. All participants of the meeting had lunch together and many participants were continuing the conversations long after the official ending oft he event. Some nice pictures from the gathering done by our German friend Peter can be viewed on Flickr. In a way it was a historic moment, since first time in more then 10 years of Sharanas history there was a meeting held in the capital of france.


Lead more children to higher education - the number of children who qualify to higher education is growing strongly. We see this as a result of the good work we do with younger children.

Carpentry Training at Sharana

We at Sharana are happy to announce the admission of our first batch of 8 students to the Vocational Training Program in Carpentry, at the Aranganur Community Center.

Since this past April, Sharana social workers have been canvassing the villages surrounding Pondicherry in an awareness-building campaign. Students and volunteers participating in Sharana’s summer camp 2012 also took time to redouble our efforts to publicize the availability of the training program, and increase awareness of the benefits to school drop-outs in the region.
Twenty-two students applied for admission to the training program, which is housed in a building adjoining the Aranganur Community Center, and fully equipped with the best machinery. All applicants were from the surrounding villages, and all were school drop-outs who were compelled by family and circumstances into agricultural coolie labor. Eight were finally selected based on family background and need. All are between the ages of 16-19. One boy, for example, had been abandoned by both parents, and was living entirely on his own. It is cases like his that remind us of the worthiness of vocational training projects that empower and enfranchise rural youth by giving them marketable skills to which they would otherwise never had access.


Mathur is a somewhat isolated village 20kms north of Pondicherry, comprised of about 370 families and a total population of 1200. It is a multi-caste village, divided into three distinct segments. Basic infrastructure is rudimentary: there is one water point for the entire village and one light bulb per hut.

The village is close to Arul Ashram, run by the Brothers of St. John (Communauté des Frères de St Jean). Father Dominic, a long-time friend and associate of Sharana’s, initiated work in Mathur, building a center for adolescents with AIDS. The Belgian organization, “A Way with You,” which has also worked for many years jointly with Arul Ashram and Sharana, also built a community center that houses an evening school. Sharana began working in Mathur in 2008. Sharana’s sponsorship work is concentrated in the first of two Dalit segments of the village, while working jointly with Arul Ashram and AWWY in the provision of health, social, and educational programs for the village as a whole.

Before Sharana’s intervention, only 20% of Mathur children attended school. Today, Sharana’s collective sponsorship program, allows 400 children to continue their education. Sharana provides school uniforms, school bags, and books in addition to assistance with school fees. The children also benefit from nutrition programs, including spirulina food supplements at snack times.

Rajkala and Vetri have worked jointly to identify village needs, following from Sharana’s firm belief that social actions can only be successful if all beneficiaries are fully involved in decision-making processes. Progress in Mathur has been sometimes difficult and slow, owing largely to the varied economic statuses of Mathur residents, the presence of entrenched social and caste hierarchies, and to the size of the village—which is the largest Sharana has worked in to date.

For smaller children, Sharana built a nursery, which frees older children from childcare responsibilities. The building includes a small room, a kitchen and toilets, as well as spaces that can be used for community meetings. The nursery employs two village women, and hosts 20 children every day. A snack and meals are distributed daily, as in Angalakuppam.