For several years at Christmas time, Fortum has made an annual Christmas donation of 30 000 euro to charity organisations that contributes to a sustainable development. In 2010, 1600 employees in Sweden, Poland and Baltic's voted at Hand in Hand's Village Upliftment Program (VUP) in India. The program aims to improve living conditions for residents in the Mananthal village.
Hand in Hand combats poverty by assisting poor people to start businesses, thus challenging power structures and creating hope and integrity. The initiative gives people the right tools to make a better living for themselves and their families. Hand in Hand’s work includes freeing the village of child labor, improving public schools, eliminating child malnutrition, starting companies through education and external microloans, creating a community centre with computer training, and teaching villagers how to manage waste and to compost.
- We know that improved living conditions are an important prerequisite to successfully work with sustainable development. It is also important that the people living in India are included in the work that affect them. The work Hand in Hand conduct is based on that perspective and has proven to be very successful, says Ann Lindell Saeby, Vice President External Communication and Brand.
Lack in knowledge of environmental and health issues
We are supporting the village of Mananthal over a period of two years. Mananthal is a panchayat (panchayat is the smallest unit of local self governance) with agriculture as a main occupation. The village is unaware of sanitation and environmental issues and that is why this panchayat was selected for our VUP project.
The village has 2118 inhabitants, all of which will be affected by VUP. Women will be educated and trained in entrepreneurship, adult literacy will be provided, more jobs will be created, all (100%) of the children must be enrolled and retained in school. Health and environmental projects and IT/ and democracy project will also be initiated. All the villagers will also be trained in all the above work areas to enable them to create a sustainable development in their village.
- India is a large country with big differences in life conditions and I am proud that Fortum employees choosed to give the 2010 Christmas donation to an organisation that will make a difference. It is particularly pleasing that we contribute to creating better conditions for a sustainable development in the community now when we will open an office in India in 2012, continues Ann Lindell Saeby.
In order to work in a panchayat, you must be assured of support from the local government (panchayat), president and the villagers. It is critical to involve the community already in the beginning of the VUP to understand priorities and articulate its needs to local government. To be able to facilitate this Hand in Hand has established a Village Development Committee (VDC). Members of the VDC consist of self-help group members, village youth, government officials etc., and the panchayat leader is the VDC advisor. The VDC members will be oriented on their roles and responsibilities to uplift the village in partnering with Hand in Hand
The VUP in Mananthal has been ongoing for the last 6 months and below is the list of activities going on so far:
Village Development Committee Formed
- 3 meetings conducted to involve the community in planning the activities to be implemented under VUP
Self Help Groups and Microfinance
- 12 women Self Help Groups are functioning with 158 members
- 123 Self Help Group members were given basic capacity building training
Child Labour Elimination Project
75 people benefited from computer awareness sessions conducted by the Mobile Citizens’ Centre team.
1 awareness program on Right to Information Act conductedHealth
1 veterinary camp conducted with 580 animals treated
Hand in Hand quarterly report from July
Hand in Hand six monts report