Page No - 1


Goto Page No. 1 2 3 4


MSSO NEWS - 2002



Editor: Eilish Hiebert




Recently Completed MSSO Projects

Since the publication of the last newsletter, five small projects have been completed and two major projects have reached a completion stage.

Sheltered Workshop for Mentally Challenged ($12,000) - The Ratibai Maganlal Jain Trust, Dhule. The project will provide mentally challenged adults training in simple vocational trades like bookbinding, production of exercise books, files, hangers, papada (a thin taco style food item).

Empowering Rural Women ($7,000) - Mahatma Gandhi Lokseva Sangh, Sindhudurg. The project provides training to rural women in the following areas: (1) raising and maintaining horticulture plants such as mango, cashew nut, kokum and Jack-fruit, (2) kitchen garden, (3) composting of green leaves and kitchen waste, (4) awareness about women's right and government schemes for earning opportunities.

Premarriage Education and Awareness ($10,000) -Susmvad, Pune. The project will provide premarriage education to develop and promote holistic understanding about the concept of marriage, based on gender-just and democratic principles, among young men and women who are contemplating marriage. This is a preventive measure for avoiding divorces.

Vocational Training in Food Preparation ($12,000) - Manaswini Prakalpa, Manavlok, Ambejogai. The project provides vocational training in home science to rural females student.

Gujarat Earthquake Relief ($13,293) - Jnana Prabodhini, Pune, executed the project in cooperation with Yusuf Meherally Centre.

The Vedanta Society of Calgary co-sponsored the first three of these projects; Maanaw Seva Association co-sponsored the fourth one. Due to the tight time schedule, it was not possible to request matching funds for the last project.


Rehabilitation of Hearing Impaired: The last major step in the project was starting the operation of the residence facility. In the month of June 2002, the Institute for Handicapped in Hearing admitted their first batch of rural students to the residence facility provided by this project. Before the availability of the residence facility some of the rural children used to travel more than 30 kilometers every day to attend the school. The total approved funding for the project is $268,802, which includes construction of the school building and the residence facility. The project will become self-supporting once it starts receiving operating grants from the state government of Maharashtra.

A Cultural program presented by Hearing Impaired students at the Residence Inauguration Function

MSSO gratefully acknowledges assistance of the following in the production of MSSO News

200 Promenade du Portage, Hull, Que., Canada K1A 0G4

3555 - 93 Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6E 6N6

#10, 3803 - 26 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB, Canada T3E 6V7




Page No - 2


Goto Page No. 1 2 3 4




Forest Management and Environment: By the end of this year, our NGO partner Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS) will complete the project Forest Management and Environmental Issues ($84,445). Mr. S.R. Hiremath, the project coordinator, visited Canada as part of our Public Engagement program and shared his views and experience with members of MSSO and other NGOs interested in environmental issues. At the public meetings in Calgary, Vancouver and Saskatoon, he screened the video "…of the People, …by the People." The video is a comprehensive summary of the project work. The audience was particularly impressed with the Gandhian approach of non-violent actions to address environmental issues with the big industrial houses and the state government. Recently SPS received a grant of Rs. One crore ($340,000 approximately) from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust in Mumbai to establish a corpus fund to support the work of SPS on a permanent basis.

Children's Participation in Environmental Awareness

New MSSO Projects

Five small projects have been approved for matching funds from the Wild Rose Foundation. The total assistance for these five projects, including the matching funds, is $49,692. For administrative purposes, these projects have been jointly sponsored with two other organizations. The specifics of the projects are as follows

Vocational Training of Disadvantaged Rural Women ($12,000) -Jnana Prabodhini, Solapur. A fruit plantation nearby a drought - prone village of Harali has created an opportunity for fruit-processing units. Rural women around Harali will be given training in fruit processing to supplement their family income.

Personality Development of Rural Students ($6,000) -Vidhyarthi Sahayyak Samiti, Pune. This project will provide for teenage students from rural and economically underprivileged urban families a motivational and personality development program leading to removal of inferiority complex, enhancement of self-confidence, improvement in communication skills, identification of goals in life, developing logical thinking habits, guidance towards self employment and appropriate skills for employment interviews.

Development of Slum Students & Mothers ($9,000) -SwaRoop Wardhinee, Pune. The project will provide


training for development of students and their mothers in slums of Pune and make them responsible citizens. The mothers will learn vocational skills in sewing, stitching, embroidery and family development education on nutrition, family planning and general hygiene.

Development of Court Committed Children ($6,000) -Vatsalya Trust, Mumbai. The project will provide an opportunity for personal development to court-committed children and save them from recruitment as child laborers.

Nursing Assistant's Course for Destitute Women ($16,692) -Adharashram, Nashik. Many destitute women cannot be helped due to lack of training and education. Such destitute women will be trained as nursing assistants to improve their employment chances.

The first four of these projects are jointly sponsored with the Vedanta Society of Calgary. The last one is jointly sponsored with Maanaw Seva Association.

As reported in the last newsletter, a major project,

Schizophrenia - Awareness & Reintegration ($445,212),

to assist persons afflicted with schizophrenia and their families was submitted to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The Project Review Committee liked certain aspects of the project but had reservations about certain other aspects. They advised to resubmit the project with revisions in line with the recommendations of the Review Committee. The project was revised in consultation with our NGO partners, Schizophrenia Association in Pune and K.S. Wani Memorial Trust in Dhule. The revised version of the project is submitted to CIDA and it will be evaluated by the Review Committee in their meeting in the first week of December 2002.

The following is the summary of the project. Persons suffering from schizophrenia are disabled persons but are not recognized to be so by the governments and others. As a result they do not receive special assistance. The vast majority of those afflicted are left without any help. Possible reasons include stigma, lack of awareness, lack of quality care, frustration and simply confusion. Prevailing social and cultural circumstances make it more devastating for female victims.
Schizophrenia destroys harmony between the thought process, human feelings and social behavior. Due to the special nature of the illness, it creates an extreme challenge not only for the afflicted person but also for the entire family. Not knowing how to deal with an afflicted person, the mental health of the other members within the family of an afflicted person also faces an extreme challenge.
The object of the project is to create awareness about schizophrenia in the community, a sense of self-confidence and self-sufficiency amongst the afflicted, preparing them for reintegration into the community and to become self-supporting. The project will

regularly provide awareness conferences followed by formation of therapy groups for counseling and training in social skills to help reintegration.

start a daycare centre to look after medical and therapeutic needs of the afflicted persons and train them in social and vocational skills.




Page No - 3


Goto Page No. 1 2 3 4




The daycare centre will help, at any given time, at least 300 individuals over three years; the majority of these will be women.

The expected results are

substantial increase in awareness about schizophrenia and a better acceptance and understanding by their families and caregivers,

significant increase in the number of recovered individuals who have rebuilt their lost social and vocational skills and who are in a position to meet the challenges of day-to-day life sufficiently well.

families with afflicted individuals will get relief from mental anguish, reduced stress in their own lives, and will enjoy better mental health.

Another major project we have submitted to CIDA is

Health Services for Hemalkasa Tribals ($207,000).

The overseas partner for this project is Lok Biradari Prakalpa of Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Warora (MSSW), which has its main centre in Hemalkasa. Established in 1973 to serve tribals of the Gadchiroli district, the centre provides a hospital facility, a residence school, vocational training centre, wild animal orphanage, agricultural services and awareness program. Drs. Prakash and Mandakini Amte are the main coordinators of the project. MSSW received generous financial help from Swissaid Abroad for setting up all the buildings including a hospital, living quarters and warehouses at Hemalkasa in the early seventies. Later Oxfam provided funds for construction of a school building. The roofs of these buildings have tiles set over wooden frames. There is a termite problem with these wooden frames. Termite has eaten up the wood. There is a risk of these roofs collapsing in the near future. If and when this happens, the work of the partner to assist the tribals will be severely hampered.

A Makeshift Stretcher to Transport Tribal Patients to the Lok Biradari Prakalpa Hospital

The partner works in a very sensitive area affected by heavily armed Naxalites, a leftist group claiming to help the tribals and constantly hunted by the police. The project site


is not fenced at present. Providing fencing to the project site would help in protecting the students and the personnel. Lack of fencing also leaves them unprotected from wild life. A link fence would also prevent students running away from the school and residence facility as a result of the situation described above.

More than 300 tribals receive medical help from the out patient department on any given day. The project is seeking provision for volunteer doctors' honoraria and supply of medicines for a period of three years. The partner is soliciting donations to establish a corpus fund for operating expenses for medicines and doctors' honoraria. It will take about three years to achieve their target. The school operations are supported by annual government grants tied to the number of classrooms. If the classrooms become unusable due to the termite problem, the government operating grant will be in jeopardy. These may be proportionately reduced in line with the usable classrooms, thereby hampering the educational services to the tribals.

Drs. Pandu Pungati and Kanna Dobi Madavi, the first medical doctors in Madia community, finished their school education at the Lok Biradari Prakalpa

MSSO Project in Progress

One of the two small projects, Rehabilitation of Leprosy Patients ($13,000) sponsored in cooperation with the Vedanta Society of Calgary, is progressing as per the original schedule.

Literacy and Development of Tribals: Construction of all the buildings is now complete. The tribal female students of the school have now moved to the newly constructed residence facility. It was a vast improvement in living standards for these female students who were earlier housed in warehouses and other similar quarters.

MSSO is now engaged in the production of a video for public awareness, which will also be screened at the forthcoming BMM 2003 convention in Madison Square Gardens in New York where Dr. Prakash Amte, the project coordinator, has been invited as chief guest of the convention.

One in four adults, almost a billion people, remains illiterate - two thirds of them are women. Literacy, particularly among women, is essential to child survival and development in every region of the world

From UNICEF brochure




Page No - 4


Goto Page No. 1 2 3 4




The main object of Vishwasetu, as stated in the constitution, is to facilitate communication amongst NRIs and between NRIs and residents in India to encourage mutual assistance, cooperation and collaboration in promoting social, educational, economic, cultural and health related projects. To achieve this object the association, in cooperation with MSSO, has undertaken to organize Vishwasetu 2002, the first ever NRI festival, where Marathi NRIs visiting India in December 2002 will be provided a venue to exchange ideas for mutual cooperation between two groups. The festival is being held in Pune from 19th till 21st December 2002. MSSO Board of Directors has agreed to provide seed money for the festival and undertake the general financial responsibility for the first year of the festival.

BMM 2001 Tradition Continues

For the first time ever in the history of the BMM conventions, a social worker was invited to address the convention. This opportunity was generally reserved in the past for intellectuals in the field of education, drama, literature, judiciary and science. At the BMM 2001 in Calgary, the well known social worker Dr. Abhay Bang gave his keynote address, Sevagram to Shodhgram. It was very touching and heartbreaking. Almost everyone in the audience was moved to tears. Notwithstanding several entertainment events, the keynote address of Dr. Bang was the high point of the convention. Many rated the keynote address of Dr. Bang as the best ever in the 18 year history of BMM conventions.

The organizers of BMM 2003 are continuing this tradition of inviting social workers to portray the work carried on by selfless social workers in Maharashtra. They have invited Dr. Prakash Amte, one of the MSSO project holders, as the chief guest at BMM 2003, taking place in Madison Square Gardens for three days beginning 4th July 2003. The invitation to Dr. Amte has created an opportunity to project development issues of tribals in India to a large convention audience, estimated to be 5000 North Americans whose roots are in Maharashtra. The majority of MSSO projects are located in Maharashtra.

Bridging Miles & Minds

Dr. Bang in his address set forth an interesting concept of building a bridge connecting Nonresident Indians (NRIs) and Maharashtra. MSSO is already active in this direction at a national level in Canada. The MSSO Board of Directors appreciated the idea of widening the scope of the MSSO work from the national to the international level. We contacted Dr. Abhay Bang himself, Dr. Shriram Lagoo and Mrs. Shaila Vidwans (past president of BMM). They all agreed to work with us to promote this idea. Our friends active in social work at different levels in India and abroad also responded in a positive manner. With help coming from so many quarters, MSSO decided to participate as one of the founding members of Vishwasetu Association, an organization for "Bridging Miles and Minds" and for providing an opportunity for a dialogue between Marathi NRIs from all over the world and social workers, activists and reformists in Maharashtra.


An Expressive Logo of Vishwasetu Association

After deciding to arrange Vishwasetu 2002, we contacted the associations of Marathi persons in various countries by email. We received responses from various countries from all over the world including Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada. Everyone liked the idea of creating this international organization. Many registrants for Vishwasetu 2002 have also taken membership in Vishwasetu Association, the majority as life members.


Many NRIs and/or foreign students wish to volunteer their services for the less privileged in India, in collaboration with a suitable voluntary Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in their particular field of interest. To assist and guide these volunteers, Vishwasetu Association has undertaken to produce a directory of NGOs in Maharashtra. The directory will provide information on the nature of the work carried on by the NGO, its contact information, and short write-ups by those who have already provided such services.

MSSO Success Stories on Videos

Success stories associated with MSSO projects are available for viewing to any interested persons on the following videos,
(1) Three Faces of Tomorrow,
(2) Gautam's Mother
(3) Dai: A Tribal Midwife
(4) Doctor, Bal Bolat Nahi (in Marathi)
(5) …of the People, … by the People and
(6) Divine Messengers - Prakash & Mandakini Amte

Persons donating $200 or more can request a complimentary copy of one video for every $200 donated. Others too can receive a copy by paying $15 per video for duplicating, handling and mailing expenses. Address and other details are given in the box below.


Donations to MSSO are eligible for tax credit (charity registration No. 10765 4410 RR 0001). Donations and/or requests for MSSO videos may be sent to:


Maharashtra Seva Samiti Organization
4 Strathbury Circle SW
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T3H 1P7
Phone (403) 288-0048 Fax (403) 547-5471