India: Teaching girls. Training adults. Building communities

One of the best-run NGOs in India, this project educates children while showing special sensitivity towards educationally excluded Dalit girls. Adults are helped through training programs and a pre-fabrication process has produced 7,500 homes for poor families.

Beginning in 1974 with a small program for boys, Reaching the Unreached (RTU) has evolved over the years into a comprehensive program to serve marginal populations in India.  RTU offers a comprehensive series of programs and services including, but not limited to: KinderCare, primary school education, home building (and associated construction trades for the homes which are pre-fabricated on the premises), textile work (see photo), dispensary and a facility for elderly health care and meals for the elderly who can’t cook for themselves.
The clinic, which carefully monitors AIDS patients and leprosy-affected individuals, also provides after-natal training for mothers and diagnoses/treats about 160 people a day for a variety of illnesses.  In the afternoon, the clinic becomes mobile and visits nearby villages whose people cannot make the travel to the center for health care.  Additionally, the clinic serves about 400 elderly people who are too feeble to come to the clinic.  The clinic also trains medical workers who animate local health communities by providing education in proper lifestyles and can make referrals to the clinic when necessary; these individuals dispense OTC medications when necessary.

Approximately 950 orphaned or parent-separated children are incorporated into a “village-like” program where 6-8 youth are housed with single mothers until they can live in a hostel. About 500 children stay with their house mothers until 12 or 13 and then live in a hostel until they are 17.  Due to space limitations, the program provides for additional children to be placed in homes in the area and payment is made for the homes to house the children on a per diem basis.  RTU has six hostels that provide homes for 250 adolescents.  A special house is kept for AIDS victims, and a special childcare unit has been set up to work with them.  Of the 950 kids served through the program, about 10% are HIV+.  HIV assistance (training, counseling, medications) is given to families.

A large cafeteria provides for the children’s needs and a hot mid-day meal is provided for approximately 2,000 who live and work at the center; 750 additional meals are prepared for breakfast and dinner.

Part of the RTU program is also to build houses for the less fortunate.  Using a production facility built on the campus, and a standard for pre-fabrication, approximately 7,500 houses have been built (17’ x 17’) from cement bricks.  Houses cost Rs 60,000 (about $1,500 USD) apiece to build.

An RTU mobile educational laboratory visits schools whose budget does not afford science lab equipment; this mobile unit stops at the schools and allows students to conduct experiments inside the unit.

A large volunteer group assists with operations, and approximately 400 people are employed by RTU, thereby providing significant assistance to the local poor area.

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