We work among the rural poor in Hajipur, Maner, Kasiadih, Phulgaon and Goa. These poor are the dalits of Bihar, the santal tribals of Jharkhand, poor women of Maharashtra and people of the remote rural region of Sattari, Goa.
Maner, Patna Unit, Bihar:
This involvement began in 1969 in the predominantly dalit area of Maner. A weekly clinic was held at the Maner Parish of the Community Health Department of Kurji Holy Family Hospital (KHFH), Patna. They soon discovered that the rate of TB was very high in the area and so KHFH applied and received a grant from Miserior to initiate a TB control program and an MMS, and a team of lay staff were assigned to start the program and live in temporary accommodation in the Parish. Collaboration began from the very start. School teachers, village Mukhias (elected leader of a village), people of the village and experts from the National TB Control Centre helped in the survey and BCG program. Government in recognition of the work supplied medicines. For five years an intensive TB program was conducted along with weekly clinics with emphasis on baby clinics and nutrition.
In 1975 a Health Center was built, on Diocesan land, with funding from Misereor and MMS. Besides the clinics, it became evident that an integrated approach to health was necessary incorporating the socio-economic concerns of the people and involving the local staff and the rural people. At this stage various socio-economic programs were taken up—National Adult Education, Diary Cooperatives, releasing bonded labourers and empowerment of women. In the years 1998-2012 more MMS were assigned to Maner as part of the training program for MMS membership. There was a spurt in village activity and the main focus was organizing a vibrant network of Self Help Groups and a women’s movement, educating children especially the girl child, use of alternative therapies and collaborating with other likeminded groups—local, regional and national—to lead people towards the goal of total development through peoples’ movement. When the concerned MMS left after finishing their term of office, because of the lack of staff, no extensive projects were taken up. The emphasis was on SHGs, continuing to struggle with dalits in areas of extreme poverty and oppression and networking with committed NGOs and religious groups.