Tag Archives: PARA

“Think now: How to save planet from pollution?”

Every year June 5th is celebrated as the World Environment Day. This day is observed to protect the earth, our common home.

To raise awareness on ill effects of plastic on the environment and promoting eco-friendly alternatives, the staff members of PARA along with the local SFI group took out a rally with the slogan “Say NO to plastic”, “Avoid Plastic, Save the Earth” and “Shun Plastic Bags, Use Cotton Bags” at Ravulapalem, East Godavari.

As part of the event, the staff picked up few bags of plastic waste from the streets at Ravulapalem centre and invited the shoppers and shopkeepers to do their bit to protect the environment by shunning plastic.

PARA ex-Director Fr Thomas Pallithanam, who was here on a brief visit, spoke about a 16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg who has been on a school strike for climate since last 9 months. “Though the climate striker has started this movement alone last year, crores of people, including students, teachers and parents are joining movement today,” he said. We were moving in a direction when we would have to buy fresh air to breathe, as we are already having to buy water. He added that instead of thinking about how to survive on this polluted planet, we need to think about how to make the planet flourish once again, and prevent pollution destroying it.

Civil societies committed to child-friendly city

During the first leg of the Child-Friendly Cities Initiatives, some civil societies in the city were not very enthusiastic about the initiative. In fact, few NGOs never turned back. After making several attempts to clarify the concept of CFCI, they started to develop more interest in the emerging possibilities for children.

The CFCI team called several organisations working for children and human rights to a seminar on the concept of Child-Friendly Cities Initiative. Some participants showed interest in the idea. Others seemed to be interested in the possible funding connected to the initiative. However, the team members continued to pursue with the CSOs as they were aware that without them the CFCI initiative could not be sustained.

While the efforts to pull the civil societies on the board were on full-swing, the crime rate was also increasing in the country and also in the city. In the month of January, 2019, a stepfather who was intoxicated had burned the thighs of a 7-year-old girl child. Last year, a 6-month-old girl was raped by a man. Issues like these changed the mind of people. People realised that there was the urgent need to have a system which could help children from any kind of violence. And they started to show interest in the concept of CFCI and started joining in the conversation on assuming their share of responsibility in protecting the children in the city. Moreover, they started to conduct meetings voluntarily involving various other NGOs in the city. We can happily say that the Child Friendly Cities Initiative, Rajamahendravaram has taken off at last.

‘9 out of 10 differently-abled students drop out’

People’s Action for Rural Awakening in collaboration with CHAI-LF organised the “We Ring the Bell” campaign across two Telugu States Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on March 13, 2019. Around 1,000 people, including head masters, teachers, PARA staff and differently-abed children and committee members actively participated.
On the occasion, Community-based Rehabilitation worker B Mahima Rao underlined that 9 out of 10 children with a disability were dropping out of schools due to lack of minimum facilities for their condition and hence are left behind at home. He added that it was time for everybody to come together and draw the attention of government towards the problems faced by differently-abled children at schools by sounding the alarm bell.


Lauding the services of PARA, Teacher Murali said that there were two differently-abled students in their school who attend the school without a miss. On the occasion, he asked if PARA staff could help to provide a wheelchair to Sajeev Rao, a student of the school.
Shouting slogans that they need schools to be differently-abled-friendly, the children indicated 10 action points that persons with disabilities need to facilitate their education. These included ramps, restrooms, transport facility, good guidance, and so on. To show their solidarity, teachers, committee members and others observed the occasion by signing the manifesto, and joined the children in shouting slogans, blowing whistles and waving pom-poms.

VCPC members stopped two child marriages

Sussane, the team member of Don Bosco Mondo, paid a visit to the panchayat office of Venkatapuram village and interacted with the members of Village Child Rights’ Committee (VCPC) on 28.11.2018. All the members of the committee, except for members of Human Rights’ Clubs, were present on the day. The students, HRC members, could not make it to the meeting as they had an examination.

The session started with Fr. Ignatius addressing the meeting and briefing about PARA and its projects and the purpose of visiting the village. He also introduced Susanne to the gathering.

On coming to know about the problems in the village, Susanne asked if they were facing any challenges working with the people. The members of the VCPC said that since they were familiar in the village, people generally listen to them. With regard to VCPC, Susanne asked if any exchanges between the members of VCPCs of Venkatapuram and VCPCs of other villages have taken place so far. To this, VCPC members said that nothing as such had happened as the committee was just three weeks old.

The team member of Don Bosco Mondo asked the VCPC what were child-related issues in the village. Answering the question, the members of the committee said that they were spreading awareness in the village about trafficking of children on the pretext of job. To this measure, we are seeing that no girl goes out of the village for job with an unknown person, they added.

Talking about her 2-year-old child, who is in Germany, Susanne asked how children are being treated. The VCPC members said there was a bad influence of television on parents and added that these days parents, instead of giving time to children, were stuck to watching TV serials. A member of the committee said that parents were just cooking food for children and leaving them on their own. There was no exchange between parents and children.

They said they were ensuring that there were no cases of child marriages in the village. They also added that they were sensitising the parents about the complications related to early marriages, early pregnancy, challenges in raising children, and so on.

Susanne asked the committee members if they needed more training programmes on Human Rights. Nodding their heads, they said it this would help them get more familiarise with child rights. And when the session was open for ‘question and answer’, they asked Susanne what made her travel such a long way, leaving the 2-year-old at home. The team member of DBM said that though her job was to sit at her desk and report to BMZ, she wanted to know the conditions of children of other countries apart from her own.

Sharing her personal life, she said that she was a student scout and was passionate about helping others. This made me work with the needy. She added that her husband was into business.

Later, she visited the nearby Anganwadi centre which was about 200 meters away from the panchayat office. She enquired about the nutrition and medication given to pregnant women and children. She also she spent some time with kids who were of her child’s age.

From there, the district coordinator of Krishna, T Madhusudan Rao, led the visiting team to another panchayat office in Pedhaprolu village where the VCPC meetings generally take place. Even here both the parties, visiting team and VCPC members, introduced themselves to each other and Fr Ignatius walked them through the works of PARA and explained the agenda of the visit.

The guide teacher asked Susanne and Fr Ignatius why they were sensitising people on Human Rights. Fr Ignatius and Susanne said it was important to make the children aware of their rights like participation, protection, education, and survival of that children have a better future.

Talking about Human Rights, the members of VCPC asked for printed materials like fliers, books, hoardings, etc, on the rights to reach more and more people in the village. They added that there was no point in conducting or discussing about human rights within the four walls if they don’t reach the masses.

When asked if there were any problems in the village, the village secretaryaffirmed that there were no problems as the district collector was closely following up. He said that for this reason there were no NGOs in the area.

Susanne asked the meeting if there were any child marriage cases in the village. For which, all said no. However, as the discussion went on, they said there might be few child marriages carried out outside the village which were not coming to their notice. However, they said that parents were taking the children to faraway places like temples to conduct the child marriages.

The VCPC members added that they stopped two child marriages in the village that they came across and counselled the parents about the problems related to early marriages. They also sensitised them on rights. One of the VCPC members said that might the reason why parents were taking children to remote areas to conduct child marriages.

Discussing about the health of pregnant women and children, the gathering said the village had established a nutri-garden, where all the required fruits and vegetable were grown. To a question on how their children were treated, they said now-a-days children were not listening to parents. They were either busy with their mobiles when at home or go out with friends and return only late in the night.

To this, Fr Ignatius said that the current generation was fast and “quick learners”. He added that parents should give them time and listen to their ideas and opinions instead of downplaying their views. Otherwise, once they realise that you are not listening to them,they stop telling you anything to the parents or elders, even if anything major incident takes place. He ended the session by asking them to have quality time with children and make them aware of their rights.

Workshop on HRE/HRC project reporting

Sussane, a team member of Don Bosco Mondo, was treated to a warm welcome by Director Fr. Ignatius Vattigunta and staff of PARA on November 26, 2018 at PARA campus, Ravulapalem, Andhra Pradesh. Fr. Ignatius went through the phase-I of the project and why it was taken up here. He spoke of several cases of child rights’ violations, children not being heard and children not aware of their rights. Moreover, there was no evidence of a culture of Human Rights.

The director said that the intervention of PARA saw increased number of Human Rights’ Clubs and raised awareness on child rights and child participation. However, he also spoke of the setbacks: there was no sustainable Human Rights’ culture and high number of violations of child rights is still taking place.

Talking about the phase-II of the project, Fr. Ignatius said that one aim was to involve the government and to link the clubs with communities through Village Child Rights Protection Committees. This would also help in the sustainability of these efforts.

To break the ice between them, the staff members introduced themselves and explained their responsibilities to Susann, who in turn explained the purpose of her visit to India, namely, to review the current status of the project and to conduct a workshop on how to report to Don Bosco Mondo. Later, Sussane introduced herself and explained the purpose of the visit to India from Germany.

Beginning the process of explaining the format of reporting, Susanne gave modules to the staff in which there was an additional column, “Means of Verification,” besides goals and indicators.

Earlier in the phase-I, there was no such column. The team member of Don Bosco Mondo said the ‘objective’ of the workshop was to review the current indicators and examine them carefully to ascertain possible ways of verification.She explained that while the indicators describe the success of the project, the “means of verification” indicate where and how the information is obtained.

To make the session participatory, she asked the participants to form 5 groups and brainstorm on “Means of Verification”. Each group presented their “Means of Verification” to all participants and discussed in detail the same. After two presentations, the session broke for lunch.

Before the session could resume, post lunch, the staff observed the 69th Indian Constitution Day – also known as Samvidhan Divas. Later, the remaining three groups presented the “Means of Verification”. After each presentation, the session was open for suggestions and views which further helped participants understand the difference between “Indicators and “Means of Verification”.Each “means of verification” was scrutinised, and further possibilities were explored by participants as well as Susanne. The day ended with the feedback from all the participants on the discussions of the day.

On the second day, the session began with Fr. Ignatius revisiting the “means of verification” suggested by all groups on the previous day. A team of two staff along with the director and Susanne had filtered the suggestions made on November 26.

Susanne, then, presented her PPT on BMZ regulations.She explained the funding scheme. She added that BMZ gives 75%, SDB/FMA gives 15% and Don Bosco Mondo (DBM) gives 10% funds to the project. The presenter also gave details about the roles of each organisation i.e., BMZ (Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany) provides funds, SDB/FMA implements the project and reports to DBM and the DBM administers the project and reports to BMZ.

The agenda of the session was to create awareness among the staff of PARA on reporting format as they will be submitting reports to DBM. Susanne explained the regulatory statute of reporting and said that upon every three months, a quarterly report should be submitted. Likewise, upon six months, a half-yearly report, annual report, follow-up report and audit report should be submitted to DBM, which will then be forwarded to BMZ after editing, if needed. Talking about the reporting format, she asked the group to give an overview of the activities implemented in the three months and an update with regard to the status of funds of the project.

She also highlighted the due date 15.02.2019 of the annual report and asked the staff to report on 01.01.2019 so that there would be time for review, improvisation and correction, if any. Susanne also underlined the different components that should be incorporated in the report. She said the report should be narrative, financial matters should be touched upon, audit section, supporting documents according to the project agreement and photos (JPEG) should be attached.

The team member of the DBM added that the actual state of the project implementation, outlook on future project progress, special notes, success stories, documents or bills of items purchased, and presentation of “means of verification” should also be reported.

Information like changes in the general conditions and project implementation organisation, target-actual-comparison of all measures or activities and outputs, cooperation with other stakeholders, appropriateness of the utilisation of the resources should be mentioned in the report.

When staff brought to her notice the difficulties in yielding 100% results, Susanne said that it was completely understandable if that were the case. She added that the staff needed to document the challenges to support their claims. If there are negative results, even those should also be mentioned in the project report, she said. Finally, the overall assessment of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability or viability of the project is to be followed by the conclusion.

Later, she handed over the stamp to the finance department which needs to be every bill that is to be claimed by the implementing organisation. After explaining thoroughly the financial section, she conducted an exercise for staff. Five volunteers were given five bills and were asked to tell in which section it fits. She then opened the session for feedback. Susanne received a very positive review from the participants.