Peaceful Society is one of the voluntary organizations, established in Goa in the year 1984. It is based upon Gandhian ideology. The women development was one of the core issues upon which Peaceful Society concentrated with all seriousness. To put in a nutshell, following are the efforts taken by Peaceful Society from the time of its establishment till date in the field of women’s development and empowerment:
A Forum To Meet
Women’s lives are dictated by the male dominated society. Peaceful society has made deliberate efforts to bring women out from their homes and provide a conducive atmosphere to discuss their own problems and co-operatively solve them. This effort has resulted in the formation of a Women’s Co–operative in Paiginim and led to revival of defunct Mahila Mandals in Pedne Taluka. The attention of all sections of the community has been focused on local health problems. Attitudes towards Government Schemes to some extent have been changed, with emphasis placed on local needs and self- reliance, as opposed to acceptance of handouts and inappropriate inputs. Women from all over Goa attended a conference held in Margao on Social Inequality with over 90 women sponsored by Peaceful Society. Over the past 10 years dozens of camps have been held to look at local problems and resources available from the Government as well as local community to solve the problems.
The fact that women have been consistently mobilised in all our programmes have been crucial to the successes, for instance in Cotigaon, the women ensured attendance at conference against the eviction of the tribals. Though most of men had been persuaded not to attend by local politicians, the women turned up as planned with food, thereby forcing the men to eventually appear.
We have become a refuge as well as a source for advice and support to many local women who have domestic and financial difficulties and will continue to offer such support for women to achieve their self – reliance.
Survey of Panchayats
A survey of Bandora Panchayat was made in the year 1985 and various programmes were launched to boost cottage industry. This move helped the needy and poor women of this area to become economically self-reliant.
A year- long assistance for needy women: The women with various skilled who received assistance from Peaceful Society had job only in the fair season and were left jobless in the monsoon. So, Peaceful Society took a novel initiative by opening other job avenues for such women. Here, these women were provided job of preparing food items having demand also in monsoon season. For over four years we have developed training and marketing scheme in processed foods with a range of products such as Jackfruit wafers, Shankderpalli and Papad at Bandora. Year round employment to a core group of 9 women, with additional labour inputs of 25 women at peak periods were generated with turn over rising from Rs.20,000/- to Rs. 1,35, 000/- annum. Due to rapid and unexpected inflation of the raw material prices (e.g. edible oils rose from Rs. 250/- to Rs. 600/- per tin in less than a year) and a number of inputs it became impossible to obtain these from the open market and the programme was suspended. A wealth of experience in running a successful village development has been gained, which is shared with other groups who are embarking on similar enterprises. We are now confident that we have the experiences to encourage and support women in establishing a business, with accounting, marketing and all the other associated business skills. On the request of Mahila Mandals of Parce, Agarwada, Paigini, Savaiverem and Madkai, Society, has imparted training in making the eatable items such as spices (Masala)
Tailoring & Embroidery Training
In spite of few local problems, tailoring and Embroidery training courses have received good responses so far. After the experience of 1st free training course of six months duration we introduced course free nominally to make trainee responsible and serious about the training.
First training course began in Bandora in 1987, since then we have so far conducted 18 courses of six months duration in Bandora (7), Agarwada (1), Parcem(3), Korgaon ( 3), Mopa (1), Malpe (1), Tuye ( 2), Pedne (1), Paiginim ( 1) and Madkai ( 1) and have trained 613 girls and workers. The six months quality training being course as well as Rs. 50/- to Rs,75/- as course contribution. By offering quality training without stipend, it is those women who wish to learn that are attracted. Many do not become professionally employed in tailoring, though they all are self reliant for their own family needs. The course offers an opportunity for the women and girls to meet on a regular basis and discuss a range of other issues. Demand for the course in Bandora diminished when 7 other sewing courses were promoted in the area (originally they were none).
Craft Promotion and Exhibition Sales has drawn in 50 local women who would otherwise remain isolated within their homes. They produce a range of traditional embroidery and craft items, which Peaceful Society arranges to, exhibit and sell. Annually 3-4 such exhibitions are arranged generating a turnover of over Rs.20, 000/-, while in Paiginim women have been operating such exhibitions independently.
A number of other ventures have been investigated in the past and found to be inappropriate – e.g. Polyester Khadi and leaf plate production.
The deposits given by the Peaceful Society to the Banks have been used to generate loans for marginal and poor people in the area to assist them in the formation of small industries and income generating schemes. Till today 418 people have received more than 30 lakh rupees.
Training For Cultivation Of Mushrooms
A special training camp was held in association with I.C.A.R. Old Goa about production of mushrooms at home in the year 1995. This camp was designed to encourage the women at home to artificially produce mushrooms and thereby seek self-reliance.
Training For Kitchen Garden
A kitchen garden training camp was organized twice to teach women the method of cultivating vegetables right in the home garden by using the biodegradable waste materials as manure. This training camp was held in the year 1995 and proved very useful for the women.
Management Training For DWACRA Leader
A three days state level orientation camp was organised at Society’s campus for RDA (Rural Development Agency, Govt. Of Goa). supported DWACRA groups. Twenty-four women group leaders took part in the camp. They shared their day-to-day problems in managing the team, procuring raw materials, marketing outlet for their product etc. Officer Incharge, Women Development Dept. of RDA – Goa was the co-ordinator of the camp and she requested the society to extend support even in future for the benefit of women groups.
Education And Health Awareness
We have initiated Balwaris in 3 areas, which have been unique in that: – (1) People have contributed to the up keep as well as provided the place. (ii) The extent to which child development (irrespective of caste and creed) has been emphasised, (iii) they have been locally managed and controlled. Two Balwaris have now been taken over by local Government schemes. A two-day camp of Taluka level women working in Balwaris was organised at Madkai Centre to discuss local issues.
Peaceful Society took an important initiative to care for the health of the people of adjoining areas by organizing Health Camps and Health Talk. The first monthly health camp was organized in the year 1987 for women and children. This monthly health camp is continuing uninterruptedly till date. The forty plus aged women are specially checked here for the age-related diseases and are also advised about precautionary measures.
Inspite of better per capita income compared to rest of the country and better literacy rate, the health status of rural poor children is still very bad. To improve the health of rural poor children, the society has so far organised 28 health camps in Bandora, continuous in Madkai village since 1990, 4 in Cotigao and 7 in Pedne area. Besides children’s health problem, disease like T.B. were also detected and patients were referred to Governmental health agency.
Those found to be having T.B. are received medication and supplementary nutrition. The health status, advices and treatment given to each chilled were carefully recorded by the doctors and every camp has given emphasis on follow up as well education to the mother to how best they can maintain the health of children within their resources. In the health camps, family health within limited resources has been promoted. The health programme is heavily reliant of the services of Dr. Poornima Santosh Usgaonkar who has given her time and resources freely and Physicians like Dr. Audhoot Borkar, and others. Preventive Health Care is also stressed and efforts have already been made to clean up and protect from contamination drinking water wells in both Pedne and Madkai. In Cotigao we succeeded in creating safe drinking water supply to 3 hamlets, and now thanks to the Government there is an excess of drinking water available in all the villages. It was however the pressure from the villagers themselves that has brought about this change.
While parenting a child, health is an important factor and such contests help parents understand it in a better way.
Solar Cooker Training
In Goa, at least for a duration of eight months, solar cookers can be used for cooking purposes. It is one of the cheapest and eco-friendly energy available for man to cook food. In order to educate women community about this novel energy available free of cost, a solar cooker training camp was organized in the year 1995.
65 smokeless chulha were installed in Yedda, Badde, and Avalim Wada of Cotigao Gram Panchayat with the help of state Rural Development Agency . (Government of Goa). This will not only reduce firewood consumption, but is also intended to improve health of the women.
Terrace Gardening Camp
In the year1995, a terrace gardening camp was held in the Peaceful Society campus to teach the ways to cultivate vegetables used for daily consumption in a family by using minimum space available. A practical demonstration was done here to illustrate how biodegradable waste in the house can be effectively harnessed as manure for such gardening.
Preservation Of Medicinal Herbs
A special initiative was taken by Society to plant and preserve rare and valuable species of medicinal herbs in its campus from the year 1997. In this respect, Peaceful Society took assistance from the faculties of Botanical Department, Goa University.
In the Peaceful Society campus, many Higher Secondary Schools and Colleges are conducting their annual NSS camps. From the year 1990 to 2001, a total of 28 such camps have been successfully conducted in the Peaceful Society campus. Besides these camps, a national camp was held for 80 girls from various states of India.
An initiative was taken by Peaceful Society to detect the culprit behind the death of Chitra Navelkar, a dowry victim, at Marcel in the year 1992.
Atrocities On Women
Peaceful Society helped a girl who was brutally raped by resorting to all lawful means. She was also helped to get medical check-up to ascertain the brutality.
Peaceful Society is holding camps at various places for awareness against the rising alcoholism and smoking and chewing tobacco habits among the mass community.
Education And Motivation Programmes
Numerous workshops and camps have been organised at various places in Goa. Particularly, Peacefully Society played a pioneering role in launching Anti-Superstition Campaign in the year 1994. A well-known social activist Shri Sham Manav was invited to Goa for delivering lectures and also for conducting workshops. Thus Peaceful Society conducted campaigns and workshops in its campus to voice against superstitions and blind beliefs.
Village Women Front
In order to seek the all round development of women, a village women front was established in the year 1998. Due to this effort, women got information about various welfare schemes made available by Government for needy and poor women.
Sai Mahila Mandal
A women’s organization called as Sai Mahila Mandal was established on 9th April 1999 with the help of Peaceful Society to assist the women of that region.