On January 29 - 30 I visited Champaran. This was my second visit since the time when I came there with Birendra to investigate a possibility for creating the Gandhi College for Social Work. On Monday, January 30, at Gandhi Research Center there was a public meeting to evaluate the progress in community building and of what the team has learned from community.
Meeting with Mr. Arvin Chauhan, local community leader with whom we met two years ago to imitate negotiations about creating the Gandhi College of Social Work.
After almost 2 years of hard work community started participating in public meetings. It was bit difficult to make them understand the entire concept which we have been trying to implement as it is not a traditional but unique and rare model of community development.
During the meeting numerous people were recognized for their commitment to the project: Mr.Arvind Chauana and Arun Chauana for donation of land and stand for community work since activities started in Bhitiharwa, Gaunaha (West Champaran), Many Mukhiya (democratic elected representative), community leaders , Presidents, Secretaries and Treasurers of different self help groups who come forward to setup village level industries. Mr. M. Hasan, Block Development Officer also participated during meeting and assure to help for all activities.
Birendra Kumar is speaking to local ommunity at the Gandhi Research Center
People from the community were coming forward and together took decision to help in their own capacity. They demanded to start computer, charkha (spinning wheel) and stitching training as soon as possible, so they could start producing cloths providing additional income what is very important for strengthening community.
As this was also an anniversary of Gandhiji's death, people from local community took the pledge that they will make sure his principles and philosophy be alive in and that they will work hard to establish self-sustain village of Gaunaha Blocks
Team of Gandhi Research Centre in Champaran, the host for the Gandhi College of Social Work, met to discuss issues and challenges related to development of the college and tried to find out solutions as college is supposed to start its first academic session in July 2012. We may say that now community is with us; we have reached out to all panchayats and it is time when to implement our goals. We are identifying all girls ( 14-18 Years ) who have been dropped out from schools, and with the affiliation of National Institute of Open Learning School (unit of the Government of India), they will be enrolled to College and complete their higher secondary school. Till today 34 girls have enrolled, 65 youths enrolled for computer education and from July 2012 session youth are going to be enrolled for undergraduate and master level programs in social work. Until the Gandhi College will receive its accreditation, the first courses will be offered under "Mahatma Gandhi Hindi International University" in Wardha.
At the beginning of April 2012, Gandhi Research Foundation in Jalgaon is going to provide all kind of support for Gandhi College of Social Work. Gandhi Research Center in Champaran will be a centre of learning for social worker and Gandhian followers at grassroots activities. Beside this NASSCOM FOUNDATION, Mumbai is going to help to setup Community Based Knowledge Centre. With help of "One Word Asia" The College will also set up Community Radio and station named "Gandhi Katha".
The meetings were combined with the program of closing of Gandhi Film Festival that was meant to promote his principles and Gram - Swaraj (self sustain and self in depended) villages. The month long Gandhi Film Festivals, spread Gandhhiji's message to all villages at the Indo-Nepal border. People were coming around the all villages of Gaunaha Blocks which is union of 18 Panchayats and one of the most backward districts and block in the country. It was first step to setup community based college, where community involvement is the most important component.
Team meeting ended with the pledge we will put all our efforts to keep alive Gandhiji's principle.