Posted by & filed under In the Press, Photos, Uttar Pradesh.

On the eve of International Women's Day Sulabh International, a non-profit organisation, has been working towards improving the conditions of 1,780-odd widows living in government shelters at Vrindavan in India, by providing education, health care, vocational training and stipends

Click HERE or on the gallery above to see images selected by Associate Picture Editor Ivy Lahon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/in-pictures-international-womens-day-in-india-8525198.html#

Posted by & filed under Africa, Articles, In the Press.

For someone born a Muslim and who attended schools that were predominantly Christian and enjoyed being in the choir despite my extra deep voice, I have to say I was very intrigued and excited to have the opportunity to go and experience that Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in India this year.

Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage where followers of the faith gather at one of the four designated sacred rivers for a dip in the water. It is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation namely, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

Thus the Kumbh Mela is held at each one of these four locations every twelfth year. Ardh ("Half") Kumbh Mela is held at only two places, Haridwar and Allahabad (Prayag), every sixth year.

The rivers at these four places are the Ganges (Ganga) at Haridwar, the confluence (Sangam) of the Ganges and the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Prayag, the Godawari at Nasik, and the Shipra at Ujjain. The word Kumbh in Hindi means pitcher while Mela means fair.

The pilgrimage takes about one and a half months at each of these places where it is believed that drops of nectar fell from the 'Kumbh' carried by gods after the sea was churned.

The festival is billed as the "biggest gathering on earth". There is no scientific method for ascertaining the actual number of pilgrims even approximately and the number of pilgrims in the water on the most auspicious day. Figures vary widely from two to eight million.

In 2001, more than 40 million gathered on the busiest of the 55 days of the pilgrimage. According to administrative estimates, around 70 million people participated on the 45th day of Ardh Kumbh Mela at Prayag in 2007.

The last "Kumbh Mela" held in 2010 in Haridwar was estimated by the authorities to have attracted between 30 and 70 million people a rather varied estimation. This year the Maha Kumbh Mela began on 14 January at Prayag. According to expectations more than 100 million people were expected to attend.

For the record, the next Kumbh Mela will be held at Nashik on the banks of River Godavari in 2015. Amongst the 100 million pilgrims this year there were 100 special ladies who witnessed the event for the very first time in their lives. These ladies are former human scavengers who were liberated by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh Social Sanitation Movement.

Before their liberation, these ladies who fall under the untouchable caste in the Hindu social system had to fill and carry bucket like toilets with their bare hands. They were not allowed to draw water from wells and had to wear bells around their necks to alert people passing by that they were advancing.

As a result of their status they not allowed to worship in temples and lived on the outskirts of towns. For some strange eason they were even not allowed to spit on the ground.

With the invention of a two pit latrine that incorporated traditional beliefs, much of that has changed but for many the icing on the cake of their freedom was being allowed to perform most important religious ritual of taking a dip in the River Ganges and being accepted by the Hindu upper caste pundits who ended up they dined with them.

Ms Usha Chandra, the honorary President of Sulabh International said that she was beyond words when she learnt that Dr Pathak had arranged for them to attend the Kumbh Mela and that when she entered the water, it was beyond her wildest dream.

"Dr Pathak and the Sulabh International have totally changed our lives and we will forever be grateful. Not only have they liberated us, but they have gone further and brought us to perform this ritual and dine with Hindu priests," she said with her voice full of emotion. Ms Dolly who is pursuing an undergraduate degree said that she is the first person in her clan to perform the Kumbh Mela.

"I consider myself very lucky to be here. Such rituals are usually done by the elderly and so for someone of my age to come and perform is nothing short of a miracle and I consider Dr Pathak as God sent," she said. The presence of the 100 ladies at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad caught the attention of people international and police officers.

If I was ever allowed to describe what it must have felt for the 100 ladies to walk the 500 meters from their campsite to the Holy River. After centuries of discrimination, they took and washed all the dirt away.

Source : http://dailynews.co.tz/index.php/features/popular-features/15192-the-kumbh-mela-biggest-gathering-on-earth

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, International.

Welfare organisation aims to restore dignity of women living in city’s shelters who often have to beg for a living

Vrindavan: Hundreds of widows of Vrindavan, who have lived a life of penury, earning a meagre 5 rupees each day for singing early-morning bhajans at temples here, now have a life of dignity, thanks to non-governmental organisation Sulabh Interntional.

Sulabh, a leading campaigner for sanitation, has decided to take care of the basic needs of the Vrindavan widows, from food to healthcare.

Only six months ago, many widows, in their traditional white cotton saris, could be seen moving from temple to temple with begging bowls, chanting “Radhe, Radhe”. Poor and malnourished, many of these women in the holy city of Lord Krishna were just skin and bone.

Things are changing, though, in a place that has earned a dubious reputation as a City of Widows.

“These days, you won’t find old women at every nook and corner, except the few who cannot shake off old habits. Now, the widows spend their time in ashrams, no more begging on the streets. They watch TV and chant bhajans within their ashrams, where they are provided basic amenities,” a resident of the city and music maestro Acharya Jaimini told IANS.

The change is thanks to the initiatives of Sulabh International, whose founder, Bindeshwar Pathak said Sunday that more than 800 widows have registered at the two government shelter homes; each of them will be given Rs.2,000 per month, for basic needs.

The initiative comes in the wake of a Supreme Court order of August 2012.

Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur had directed the Uttar Pradesh government in August last year to ensure at least proper cremation and last rites for the ‘Vrindavan widows’, in keeping with their religious beliefs.

The bench also issued directions that the widows receive immediate relief, including proper food, regular visits from doctors of the Mathura civil hospital, and homes with adequate sanitation.

The apex court directed the centre to play a proactive role in the matter.

The apex court had suggested that International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) and NGO Sulabh International could be contacted to extend help to the 1,790-odd poor widows living in deplorable conditions in the four government shelters of Vrindavan.

“The idea is to ensure that widows living in the government-run shelters in Vrindavan should not be forced to beg or go to bed hungry,” Bindeshwar Pathak told IANS, adding that Sulabh had decided that a sum of Rs.2,000 would be given to each of these widows a month.

The money would be paid by Sulabh, which has been paying the widows Rs.1,000 each per month since last year.

The apex court had expressed shock that the bodies of two widows who had died at the government homes were chopped and the pieces put into gunny bags for disposal in the Yamuna, on the plea that there were inadequate funds for proper cremation rites.

Sulabh has also handed over five well-equipped ambulances for the exclusive use of the widows. The NGO has gifted the Vrindavan widow shelter homes medical equipment and television sets too.

The NGO also plans an education programme to restore the women’s confidence. The widows have started learning Hindi, English and Bengali. The four widows who died at these homes since the NGO began its initiatives here last year were accorded final rites in accordance with Hindu custom.

Sulabh has also donated 50 sewing machines, and some women have begun to use these to earn a living. Besides, they also make Agarbatti (incense sticks) and flower garlands for sale.

Sulabh is renowned for freeing large numbers of people from the scourge of lifting night soil. “That experience came handy here,” the 70-year-old Pathak, who launched Sulabh decades ago, said, explaining that people freed from toiling with night soil had been rehabilitated in some measure through education and vocational training.

“We are using our vast experience here in Vrindaban and want to see that the widows no longer live as an unwanted burden on the society,” Pathak said.

Although Sulabh has taken up the initiative without much support, Pathak says: “We will approach the central as well as state governments and big corporate houses for help. The idea is to ensure a dignified life to the widows.”

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at brij.k@ians.in)

SUMMARY:

Vrindavan Feb 24 (IANS) Hundreds of widows of Vrindavan, who have lived a life of penury, earning a meagre 5 rupees each day for singing early-morning bhajans at temples here, now have a life of dignity, thanks to non-governmental organisation Sulabh Interntional.

Indo-Asian News Service

Source : http://gulfnews.com/news/world/india/hope-for-vrindavan-s-widows-1.1152783

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Rajasthan.

Udaipur. स्वच्छता का समाजशास्त्र सत्य व अहिंसा पर आधारित है। स्वच्छता सुविधाओं में स्वच्छता की संस्कृति से ही देश का सामाजिक, आर्थिक व पर्यावरणीय विकास सम्भव है। ये विचार सुलभ इन्टरनेशनल के संस्थापक डॉ. विन्देश्वर पाठक ने डॉ. मोहनसिंह मेमोरियल ट्रस्ट तथा विद्याभवन पोलीटेक्नीक की सिविल इंजीनियरिंग विभाग के साझे में आयोजित स्वच्छता का समाजशास्त्र विषयक व्याख्यान में व्यक्त किये।

डॉ. पाठक ने महात्मा गान्धी का उल्लेख करते हुए कहा कि गान्धी स्वतंत्र भारत से पहले स्वच्छ भारत चाहते थे लेकिन आजादी के इतने वर्षो के बाद भी देश के शहर—गावों में पर्याप्त व उचित स्वच्छता की सुविधा उपलब्ध नहीं है। डॉ. पाठक ने स्वच्छ शौचालय की टेक्नीक का विवरण प्रस्तुत करते हुए कहा कि भारत में ऐसे शौचालय चाहिए जिसमें कम पानी का इस्तेमाल होकर मल का पर्यावरणीय सुरक्षित निस्तारण हो जाये। सेफ्टी टेंक ठण्डे देशों के मोसम के लिए उपयुक्त है। भारत जैसे गर्म देशों को ध्यान में रखते हुए डॉ. पाठक ने सुलभ शौचालय की तकनीक विकसित की है। डॉ. पाठक ने कहा कि स्वच्छ व सस्ते शोचालय से ही छुआछुत व मैला ढोने की प्रथा समाप्त होगी।

डॉ. पाठक ने बताया कि स्वच्छता का समाजशास्त्र एक वैज्ञानिक शिक्षा है जिसमें समाज की समस्याओं का निराकरण किया जा सके जो सतत् विकास के लिए स्वच्छता, सामाजिक भेदभाव, जल सामाजिक शास्त्र, पर्यावरण, गरीबी, लिंग समानता, बच्चों के कल्याण एवं लोगो को सशक्त करने एवं दर्शन व आध्यात्मिक ज्ञान की प्राप्ति से सन्दर्भ हो जिससे एक खुशनुमा जीवन जीया जा सके और अन्य लोगो के जीवन में परिवर्तन लाया जा सके। डॉ. पाठक ने विवेकानन्द को उदृत करते हुए कहा कि ’वे ही जीते है जो दूसरों के लिए जीते है।’
अध्यक्षता करते हुए विद्याभवन सोसायटी के अध्यक्ष रियाज तहसीन ने कहा कि बाहरी स्वच्छता के साथ साथ मन के भीतर की स्वच्छता जरूरी है। तहसीन ने विद्याभवन पॉलीटेक्निक द्वारा स्वच्छता व ग्रामीण विकास के लिए संचालित गतिविधियों की जानकारी दी। आरम्भ में ट्रस्ट सचिव नन्दकिशोर शर्मा ने डॉ. पाठक का स्वागत व उनका संक्षिप्त परिचय देते हुए कहा कि महात्मा गान्धी के पश्चात डॉ. विन्देश्वर पाठक ही वे व्यक्ति है जिन्होंने स्वच्छता व छुआछुत व मैला ढोने वालों के उत्थान की दिशा में कार्य  किया है। धन्यवाद ट्रस्ट के अध्यक्ष विजय सिंह मेहता ने दिया। संचालन डॉ. श्रीराम ने किया। व्याख्यान में प्रो. जगत एस मेहता, एस.पी.गोड, अनिल मेहता, शान्तिलाल भण्डारी, रवि भण्डारी, शिवराज सोनवाल, सुलभ इन्टरनेशनल की अध्यक्ष उषा आदि गणमान्य नागरिकों ने भाग लिया। इस अवसर पर सुलभ इन्टरनेशनल द्वारा भव्य प्रदर्शनी लगाई गई। प्रदर्शनी को नागरिकों ने बडे उत्साह से देखा व सराहा।

Source : http://udaipurnews.in/2013/02/26/sociology-of-hygiene-is-based-on-non-violence-and-truth/

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

At the behest of the Supreme Court, NGO Sulabh International is trying to improve the condition of widows who are living in government shelter homes at Vrindavan.

A bench comprising Justices DK Jain and Madan B Lokur had taken strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of widows were disposed by chopping them into pieces and putting them in gunny bags due to lack of money for proper cremation. 

The court had expressed serious concern over lack of provision of food as well. 

The apex court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to at least ensure that proper last rites were performed to 'Vrindavan widows' as per their religion. 

The Bench also gave directions for providing Vrindavan widows immediate relief, including supply of proper food, mandatory visits by a team of doctors from the Mathura civil hospital twice a week and ensuring basic sanitation in the shelter homes. 

It also wanted the Centre to play a proactive role in the matter. 

The Bench suggested that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) and NGO Sulabh International be contacted to find out whether they could come forward to help the 1,790-odd widows living in deplorable conditions in the four government shelters at Vrindavan. 

The court had asked the NALSA (National Legal Service Authority) to contact the Sulabh International to find out whether they could come forward to help the widows living in four government shelters at Vrindavan. 

The Apex Court bench reposed trust on Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh movement, and asked him to look into the cause of old ailing widows at Vrindavan. UNI

Source : http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?d2b2603c-c06c-4ca4-b740-6d4e3dcf0487

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

वृदांवन (उत्तर प्रदेश).वृदांवन की तंग गलियों में बना एक विधवा आश्रम, फरवरी की गर्म सर्द दोपहर, आश्रम में त्योहार का सा माहौल है. उदास चेहरों वाली विधवाओं के चेहरे पर रह रह कर मुस्कराहट की लकीरें आ रही है. भजन और नृत्य के बीच सरस्वती पूजा. पंडित के मंत्रोच्चार और शंख की गूंज. इसी गूंज में सफेद सूती धोती और शाल में लिपटी बेहद कृशकाय और पोपले मुंह वाली नव्बे साल की मोनू घोष कभी एक स्लेट पर हिंदी में अपना नाम लिखने की कोशिश करती हैं. ढोल की थाप पर नृत्य करती हैं तो कभी भजनों के साथ समवेत स्वर मिलाती हैं. मोनू घोष सिर्फ एक देह का नाम नही बल्कि उम्मीद और हौसले का नाम है. चेहरे पर निश्छल मुस्कराहट का स्थाई भाव, जिंदगी के झंझावात वाले दौर को साफ करते वक्त आवाज भले ही कांपी हो लेकिन मुस्कराहट बनी रही. निश्छल सी पोपली मुस्कराहट. उम्र की सलवटें भले ही देह पर नजर आ रही हो लेकिन हौसले पर उम्र हावी नहीं हो सकी. नव्बे साल की उम्र में वह पढ़ना चाहती है "ताकि स्टेशन का नाम पढ़ सकें. बस का नंबर पढ़ सकें और खुद अपना साईन कर सकें. मोनू घोष उन विधवाओं में शामिल है, जिन्हें स्वैच्छिक संगठन (सुलभ इंटरनेशनल) ने गोद ले लिया है और सम्मान से जिंदगी जीने का उनका अधिकार सुनिश्चित करने के साथ सम्मानपूर्वक संसार से विदाई देने का भी बीड़ा उठाया है. यह कार्यक्रम शुरु किये जाने के बाद सुलभ अब तक उन्हें जीवन यापन के लिए भीख मांगने से बचाने के लिए एक हजार रुपये मासिक का जीवन यापन भत्ता देता था, लेकिन अब उसने यह भत्ता बढाकर दो हजार रुपये कर दिया है. सुलभ के संस्थापक डॉ. बिंदेश्वर पाठक के अनुसार भत्ता राशि बढ़ाने के साथ साथ सुलभ ने अब इन्हें हिंदी, इंग्लिश और बांग्ला पढ़ाने की भी व्यवस्था की है ताकि वे बैंक खाता खोलकर स्वयं उसमें पैसा जमा कर सके और निकाल सकें. किसी अन्य व्यक्ति द्वारा उनका धन हड़पने की गुंजाइश ही नहीं रहे. इसके साथ ही उन्हें सिलाई करने और अगरबत्ती बनाने जैसे स्वरोजगार का प्रशिक्षण देना भी शुरु किया गया है. डॉ. पाठक ने बताया कि सुलभ का प्रयास है कि ये विधवायें न केवल सम्मान से जिंदगी जीयें बल्कि दुनिया से इनकी विदाई भी सम्मानपूर्वक हो. इसी के चलते इस स्वयंसेवी संगठन ने मृत्यु के बाद इनके अंतिम संस्कार का भी एक कार्यक्रम शुरु किया है. गौरतलब है कि राष्ट्रीय विधि सेवा प्राधिकरण की एक जांच रिपोर्ट के अनुसार मृत्यु के बाद वृदांवन की इन निराश्रित विधवाओं की देह को यूं ही इधर-उधर कचरे में फेंक दिया जाता था. प्रयास है कि अब इस कार्यक्रम से उनकी संसार से विदाई भी सम्मानपूर्वक हो सकेगी. मोनू घोष लगभग बयालिस साल पहले वृदांवन आई थीं. कभी सपार्ट तथा कभी कांपती आवाज में यह बताती हैं. पति मर गया कहां जाती. ठाकुर जी के द्वार आई उन्होंने ही संभाला. कभी बहुत दुख सहे. अब ठीक है. पुनर्जन्म में विश्वास है लेकिन अब जीवनमरण के चक्र से मुक्ति चाहती हैं. उसी चिर परिचित मुस्कराहट के साथ कहती हैं बहुत दुख है. दुनिया में बाबा दूसरी बार यहां नहीं आना "इस जीवन को पूरा जीने के बाद बस."

Source : http://navabharat.org/spicy-news/38066-%E0%A4%89%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%A6-%E0%A4%B5-%E0%A4%B9%E0%A5%8C%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%B2%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE-%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AE-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%82-%E0%A4%98%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%B7

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

Institutes run by voluntary organisations in Vrindavan for widows express disquiet at being left out of government doles

The Supreme Court’s intervention that brought some relief to destitute women and widows living in Vrindavan has been well appreciated. The plight of many of these women has off and on made international news, but not many know about individuals that have been working for the betterment of such women silently for years now. However, these institutions are now facing disquiet. 

Amar Badi Ma Dham is one such shelter home that has been providing succour to hundreds of such destitute women since 1997 but now there are signs of discontent among the residents who feel left out as monthly allowances are doled out to those residing in the government-run shelter homes following the apex court’s intervention.

“We have been working for empowerment of these women since 1997 but what kind of empowerment will charity provide,” says Mohini Giri, chairperson of Guild for Service, a non-government organisation which runs the shelter home in Vrindavan.

Sulabh International has been doling out Rs. 2,000 per month since last year to each of the 700 destitute women in five government-run shelter homes in Vrindavan following the Supreme Court order which directed Sulabh to provide basic facilities and cremation facilities for such women. In the same order, ISKCON was asked to provide one meal to these women. 

“Giving money can be no answer to empowerment. We do not want charity,” Ms. Giri says, adding that giver was a greater sinner than taker.

At present 100 widows, aged between 30 to 100 years, are residing in Amar Badi Ma Dham. They are being trained for nursing, stitching and other odd jobs so that they live with dignity. “But what training can you give to a 70 plus year-old woman,” Ms. Giri asks. Old age and widow pensions come once in six months. Until then, the woman has to depend on others. “If only the government systems were functional,” she points out.

“I have made Ma Dham my home now. I do not want to go back to my son,” says Jamna Bai Pandey from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh who has been living in the home for several years. “But we also want cash like others are receiving,” says another old woman from behind.

The shelter home has several facilities. A doctor visits once a week, a physiotherapist comes daily and an ambulance is available on call. “The last rites are done with dignity,” explains Geeta Pandey, in-charge of the home.

Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/feeling-left-out/article4452412.ece

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

Hundreds of widows of Vrindavan, who have lived a life of penury, earning a meagre 5 rupees each day for singing early-morning bhajans at temples here, now have a life of dignity, thanks to non-governmental organisation Sulabh Interntional.

Sulabh, a leading campaigner for sanitation, has decided to take care of the basic needs of the Vrindavan widows, from food to healthcare.

Only six months ago, many widows, in their traditional white cotton saris, could be seen moving from temple to temple with begging bowls, chanting "Radhe, Radhe". Poor and malnourished, many of these women in the holy city of Lord Krishna were just skin and bone. Things are changing, though, in a place that has earned a dubious reputation as a City of Widows.

"These days, you won't find old women at every nook and corner, except the few who cannot shake off old habits. Now, the widows spend their time in ashrams, no more begging on the streets. They watch TV and chant bhajans within their ashrams, where they are provided basic amenities," a resident of the city and music maestro Acharya Jaimini said.

The change is thanks to the initiatives of Sulabh International, whose founder, Bindeshwar Pathak said Sunday that more than 800 widows have registered at the two government shelter homes; each of them will be given Rs.2,000 per month, for basic needs.

The initiative comes in the wake of a Supreme Court order of August 2012.

Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur had directed the Uttar Pradesh government in August last year to ensure at least proper cremation and last rites for the 'Vrindavan widows', in keeping with their religious beliefs.

The bench also issued directions that the widows receive immediate relief, including proper food, regular visits from doctors of the Mathura civil hospital, and homes with adequate sanitation.

The apex court directed the centre to play a proactive role in the matter. The apex court had suggested that International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) and NGO Sulabh International could be contacted to extend help to the 1,790-odd poor widows living in deplorable conditions in the four government shelters of Vrindavan.

"The idea is to ensure that widows living in the government-run shelters in Vrindavan should not be forced to beg or go to bed hungry," Bindeshwar Pathak told IANS, adding that Sulabh had decided that a sum of Rs.2,000 would be given to each of these widows a month.

The money would be paid by Sulabh, which has been paying the widows Rs.1,000 each per month since last year.

The apex court had expressed shock that the bodies of two widows who had died at the government homes were chopped and the pieces put into gunny bags for disposal in the Yamuna, on the plea that there were inadequate funds for proper cremation rites.

Sulabh has also handed over five well-equipped ambulances for the exclusive use of the widows. The NGO has gifted the Vrindavan widow shelter homes medical equipment and television sets too.

The NGO also plans an education programme to restore the women's confidence. The widows have started learning Hindi, English and Bengali. The four widows who died at these homes since the NGO began its initiatives here last year were accorded final rites in accordance with Hindu custom.

Sulabh has also donated 50 sewing machines, and some women have begun to use these to earn a living. Besides, they also make Agarbatti (incense sticks) and flower garlands for sale. IANS

Hundreds of widows of Vrindavan, who have lived a life of penury, earning a meagre 5 rupees each day for singing early-morning bhajans at temples here, now have a life of dignity, thanks to non-governmental organisation Sulabh Interntional.

Sulabh, a leading campaigner for sanitation, has decided to take care of the basic needs of the Vrindavan widows, from food to healthcare.

Only six months ago, many widows, in their traditional white cotton saris, could be seen moving from temple to temple with begging bowls, chanting "Radhe, Radhe". Poor and malnourished, many of these women in the holy city of Lord Krishna were just skin and bone. Things are changing, though, in a place that has earned a dubious reputation as a City of Widows.

"These days, you won't find old women at every nook and corner, except the few who cannot shake off old habits. Now, the widows spend their time in ashrams, no more begging on the streets. They watch TV and chant bhajans within their ashrams, where they are provided basic amenities," a resident of the city and music maestro Acharya Jaimini said.

The change is thanks to the initiatives of Sulabh International, whose founder, Bindeshwar Pathak said Sunday that more than 800 widows have registered at the two government shelter homes; each of them will be given Rs.2,000 per month, for basic needs.

The initiative comes in the wake of a Supreme Court order of August 2012.

Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur had directed the Uttar Pradesh government in August last year to ensure at least proper cremation and last rites for the 'Vrindavan widows', in keeping with their religious beliefs.

The bench also issued directions that the widows receive immediate relief, including proper food, regular visits from doctors of the Mathura civil hospital, and homes with adequate sanitation.

The apex court directed the centre to play a proactive role in the matter. The apex court had suggested that International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) and NGO Sulabh International could be contacted to extend help to the 1,790-odd poor widows living in deplorable conditions in the four government shelters of Vrindavan.

"The idea is to ensure that widows living in the government-run shelters in Vrindavan should not be forced to beg or go to bed hungry," Bindeshwar Pathak told IANS, adding that Sulabh had decided that a sum of Rs.2,000 would be given to each of these widows a month.

The money would be paid by Sulabh, which has been paying the widows Rs.1,000 each per month since last year.

The apex court had expressed shock that the bodies of two widows who had died at the government homes were chopped and the pieces put into gunny bags for disposal in the Yamuna, on the plea that there were inadequate funds for proper cremation rites.

Sulabh has also handed over five well-equipped ambulances for the exclusive use of the widows. The NGO has gifted the Vrindavan widow shelter homes medical equipment and television sets too.

The NGO also plans an education programme to restore the women's confidence. The widows have started learning Hindi, English and Bengali. The four widows who died at these homes since the NGO began its initiatives here last year were accorded final rites in accordance with Hindu custom.

Sulabh has also donated 50 sewing machines, and some women have begun to use these to earn a living. Besides, they also make Agarbatti (incense sticks) and flower garlands for sale. IANS

Source : http://thefinancialworld.com/epaper/fwepaper_new.aspx

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

Sulabh International, a non governmental organisation (NGO), has decided to double the monthly allowance of destitute, widowed women from this month to dissuade them from begging. The move will benefit 700-odd widows residing in five government-run old age homes here.

In addition, the women will be taught Hindi, English and Bengali by trained teachers so that they are able to sign and the money can be directly transferred to their bank accounts. At present, the cash is handed over to them. They will also be imparted age-appropriate skills to empower them to live a dignified life.

The NGO was directed by the Supreme Court to improve the lives of those destitute women who had been abandoned by their families and had made Vrindavan their home. The Court took cognisance of a report published by The Hindu in 2010 highlighting the pitiable condition of these women who eked out a living by begging and singing in temples. An enquiry by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) also revealed that once they were dead there was no provision for disposal of the bodies due to lack of funds. The bodies were often dismembered and dumped in the garbage.

Sulabh International last year started giving Rs. 500 a month to each of these women living in four government-run shelters and subsequently raised it to Rs. 1,000. “We have now enhanced it to Rs. 2,000 so that women do not go out on the streets to beg,” Bindeshwar Pathak, the NGO’s founder, told reporters here. Women were told that they should not beg on the streets and if anyone was found begging, the monthly allowance would be stopped immediately.

The organisation has made adequate provisions to ensure that the last rites were performed with due respect.

The NGO has been motivating able-bodied women to undergo vocational training so that they can earn their livelihood. Sewing machines were distributed among the women; the elderly would be engaged in making garlands, which would then be supplied to local markets. Making incense sticks is another engagement it would involve the women in.

Three teachers have been employed by the NGO to teach the women basic English, Hindi and Bengali as a large number of widows are from West Bengal and speak only Bengali.

Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vrindavan-widows-allowance-hiked/article4449568.ece

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

MATHURA: A social service organisation, which has launched several initiatives to improve the plight of widows in Vrindavan, has decided to double the monthly dole given to such women from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. 

Sulabh International, which gives financial help of Rs 1,000 to such women every month to prevent them from starving and begging, has decided to increase the amount to Rs 2,000. 

"The idea is to ensure that widows living in government-run shelters in Vrindavan do not go to bed hungry or eke out a living by begging," the organisation's founderBindeshwar Pathak said. 

After this every widow of Vrindavan will get Rs 2,000 from Sulabh, he added. 

Sulabh International had started this initiative last year following Supreme Court taking strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, were disposed. 

The court had asked the National Legal Service Authority to contact the Sulabh International to find out whether they would come forward to help the widows living in four government shelters at Vrindavan. 

Following which, the organisation, known for promoting low-cost sanitation apart from its efforts to promote human rights, had announced on August 12 last year that it will take care of the widows. 

Besides this, the NGO had provided the government-run shelters five well-equipped ambulances along with medical equipments. 

"Now the focus will be on imparting education among them. Some amount of education and training will bring back self-confidence to them even at this old age," Pathak said.

Source : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sulabh-international-to-double-its-monthly-dole-to-widows/articleshow/18656599.cms