We embarked on the journey of providing holistic support to migrants and their families in the year 2013 with launch of Agrasar Bachpan – wherein we teach their children who do not go to schools, facilitate their admissions in the formal schools and then work for enhancing the quality of education in these schools where most of the children belong to migrant communities. The program evolved further over last six years as diverse needs of migrant workers and their families started taking priority in our journey towards a caring and compassionate society for all. Today, through our Migration Support Centres, we focus on enabling Gainful and Progressive Employment, Basic Entitlements related to Identity, Education, Health and Financial Inclusion and humane and thriving working conditions.
Migrants from rural regions of the country are the ones who develop the cities we live in and enjoy the infrastructure and civic amenities. However, they are also the ones who are completely neglected by the same city they develop. I feel proud that we are able to support migrant workers and their families develop a sense of identity and belongingness and avail basic services like Education, Health and Financial & Legal inclusion.
Agrasar has an innovative range of outreach activities to reach every nook and cranny of the community. Initiatives such as personalized door-to-door visits, group meetings, street plays, canopies, and focused community camps are meticulously planned to spread awareness amongst youth who are constrained in finding gainful employment opportunities or struggling with any other challenges to avail basic rights and services. Agrasar runs a Radio Programme-Career Express-in collaboration with Community Radio, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz 107.8 FM to reach youth who cannot access regular brick and mortar training facilities. Weekly Radio Shows, Newscasting Sessions and Workshops provide timely information regarding Identity Cards, soft skills, interview preparation, spoken English, Financial Literacy, Social Security, Workers Rights and Job Opportunities.
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Rural to Urban migration leads to creation of a contextualised, dynamic and complex system. Our work begins with understanding the various actors, their roles and relationships among themselves. Relevant institutions are identified for partnerships.
While the capacities of stakeholders is continuously enhanced, one of the major endeavours of the program is to facilitate access to rights and services. Focus is always on the primary stakeholders taking up the responsibility for sustaining the efforts.
Instead of questioning the intent, and therefore getting into a dysfunctional loop, we focus on enhancing the capacities of various stakeholders – the government, industry, contractors, and the “migrants” and their families to achieve program goals.
Collation and integration of secondary research and complimenting/ strengthening emerging knowledge with localised research forms an essential part of our work. This also helps in adding to the body of knowledge in the field of migration.
Even though we understand that designing scalable interventions is important, we do not believe in targeting numbers. Whenever being asked the question - "How is it going?", our team members would normally talk about students and people - successes achieved or challenges being faced in particular cases. We also try to be fair and objective in communicating about 'impact' to all stakeholders. e.g. you would often hear us mentioning that - "Around 20% of the youth who come to our Employability Centres would have gone in similar jobs had they not joined us. Therefore, we need to find even better avenues of placement." We would also talk about children who we were not able to mainstream. We share our successes as well as challenges so as to attract people and organizations in our journey who mean to make a "real impact".
Regular Health Camps are being organised at our Migration Support Centre in Bhiwadi, which is run in collaboration with Odisha Government (ORMAS) under DDU-GKY scheme of Ministry of Rural Development. The camps mainly focuses on preventive healthcare, identifying nutritional deficiency and advising people on practices they can follow in their context.
Monthly Meeting of community corps in Gurugram. "Community Corps" are central to our work on migration support. These are general or theme based solidarity groups of people belonging to migrant communities and are willing to support their fellows by regularly putting in time and efforts.
Last December, 55 students visited Pizza Hut at Ansal Plaza. The students got a glimpse of how the kitchen and store are managed. Through such exposure visits, the youngsters learn and get to explore job opportunity in various sector.
One of the key components of our work with migrant communities is individual need assessment. Instead of one-size-fits-all approach, we conduct a baseline for each individual or family and then support them with the most important needs they have. We also try to understand their contexts and what do they already have so as to build upon that rather than considering only the gaps.
"I have been living in Gurgaon for the past 11 years. All these years, I rarely went out of home alone because I feel uncomfortable while talking to new people. My husband used to accompany me whenever I had to go out for household chores or my personal work. I felt dependent on others but I could not overcome my fear of being in unfamiliar surroundings. I came to know about the course through Agrasar’s Camp at Dundahera Chaupal and I decided to give it a try. I have been a part of the training for the last four months and I can feel some improvements in my personality like I feel less anxious when I talk to people now. Not only do I come to the centre alone, I have also started to go out in the market and am more conscious about my appearance now than before. I have learnt new things from the trainers as well as from my batch-mates. I feel like it is an achievement for me to be able go out on my own and meet new people confidently."
Agrasar team has received salary related queries from Manish, Sunil Kumar, and Rahul who are working in an automobile parts manufacturing company. They took leaves without any notice and went to their villages. When they returned, the contractor in the company terminated their employment and held their salaries. Agrasar team organized a meeting with Manish, Sunil and Rahul to discuss about their problem. After the discussion the team visited the Company and met the contractor at the company and discussed the problem and find a solution together. During the discussion, contractor told that they always take leaves without any prior information and work could not be completed in time which had unfavorable repercussions for the company. Agrasar team requested the company contractor to release pending salaries and also had a conversation with the three youngsters about the importance of informing the staff as well as to the reporting officer before taking leaves. After some days, the company contractor released the pending salary and hired them again on the same job.
Savita is working as a caretaker. Her house in Odisha was damaged in August 2019 due to floods in the region. She took a sum of Rs. 50,000 from a money lender to meet the damage cost. The money lender gave money on compound interest without fully informing her about the concept of installment with compounded interest. After some time, the Money Lender started pressuring her to return the money with hefty compounded interest. Meanwhile, her husband became ill and had to return to his home town for treatment which added the financial burden. The team had a discussion with the money lender and learnt that he genuinely needs money urgently as there is a wedding in the family. The team helped her get Rs. 30,000 from the current Employer as advanced salary. Savita was able to repay her loan and saved herself from falling under a debt-trap.