Who We Are, and What We Do
The Nirvanavan Foundation is a grass roots organization working in Alwar and the surrounding countryside. There are four main areas of work:
1. Children’s Rights
The Childline project in Alwar is a free phone service for children in distress. Future plans include building and running a children’s home at Advaita Gardens. At present those children in need of somewhere to live have to be sent to a government orphanage in Jaipur many miles away.
2. Education Programme
The main school at Advaita Garden, with over 120 children enrolled, serves the villages of Hajipur and Dadikar. In addition the Foundation runs an alternative education programme for the Nat and Kanjar community. Spread all over Alwar district in 25-30 small villages, this community is traditionally into prostitution. Most of the Nirvanavan schools are in these villages. We are providing primary education to their children and basic medical facilities, particularly to the women who run a high risk of becoming infected and spreading the Aids virus.
3. Ecology and the Environment
Conservation of rain water through traditional methods. (details later)
Tiger Conservation & Combatting Deforestation
Recently, the ‘Save the Tiger’ Movement collected over 90,000 signatures in the area as part of its work to increase awareness that India’s tigers are vanishing at an alarming rate. Ranthambhore, one of India’s premier tiger reserves, is in the heart of Rajasthan.
In 2004, the official count of tigers there was 47. One year later it was only 26.
Street theatre for street children focusing on social issues such as child marriage, education for girls, deforestation, dowry payments.
Developments and Achievements During the Last Few Years
The work has been slowly evolving, creating a strong ‘foundation’. It has all happened naturally, according to areas of need as they appeared. The involvement of local children led to three schools being established in 2001. By 2005 this had increased to ten schools. Based on the results of a survey which we conducted in 2003, we made the decision to organise most of these schools in areas of traditional prostitution. These schools are an attempt to help break the pattern of exploitation and to help these young women and men become aware of alternative choices in their lives.
Unfortunately, due to lack of a regular income, we have had to temporarily close five of these schools. However, the present schools continue to grow and to flourish (the main school at Advaita Garden has over 120 children enrolled.) We look forward to re-opening all the schools.
Inspired by ‘Earth Day’ which is on the 22nd April each year, we have encouraged the local people and the children from the schools to meet on the 22nd of each month. These days have been very productive. For example, we have revived the tradition, which had largely died out, of the digging of local ponds (called johads) to raise the water table by conserving rain water. We are also involved in the planting, watering and protection of new trees. Sadly, the area we live in is heavily deforested, with much soil erosion and many trees being cut down daily for firewood and fodder.
In recent years it has pleased us greatly to have become involved in ‘Childline’ in our local city of Alwar. Childline is a 24 hour freephone service. This service is set up to to listen to the many children who need someone to talk to and to offer on-going support. There are many such children all over India, including street children, orphans, drug addicts, abandoned and abused children. As a result of this work we are eager to build as soon as possible, a children’s home, to cater for those who need such care and attention.
Although we are small, we know that what we are doing is important. We rely on donations to continue our activities and are grateful to our friends around the world who support us.
LATEST NEWS MARCH 2010