Sridevi Sajjan is a member of FEDINA’s central team in Bangalore. She is in charge of the programs carried out by the network. Government programmes do exist in India and our organisation is informing people about how to access them. But, even more than sensitizing, FEDINA decided from 1993 to develop its own programmes for the vulnerable and poor people left behind. Health and Housing are our two main activities as Sridevi will explain them to you.
1/ Nasmacara Sri, could you give us an insight about the public beneficiating from the FEDINA programmes ?
Sridevi Sajjan : The people FEDINA is working with are firstly poor. Their commun point is also that they pretty much all live in slum areas. Concerning the health programme, we are working particularly with senior citizens : all of them used to work in the unorganized sector. They don’t get any benefits from their past career and are social outcast.
2/ Then, what are the activities contained by FEDINA programmes ?
S.S. : The first programme FEDINA carries out is about health. We support and work with senior citizens groups. We can say there is at least one group in each of the 38 slum areas we work at. We come to visit these groups, discuss with the people about their health problems : back pains, blood pressure troubles, etc. They have been working really hard for most of their lives in the informal sector and with no social welfare and were left behind.
One of our main activities is to inform people they can access the Primary Health Centres (PHC). And when people don’t get a proper service or proper medication there, we write letters, requests and put pressure on the medical officer of the concerned centre to resolve the problems. You know, in rural area there is one PHC per 5,000 inhabitants but in Bangalore it is one PHC for 10,000 to 15,000 inhabitants. Nowadays we are trying to get the private sector and private facilities involved in our fight for basic health for all !
3/ You mentioned two programmes, what is the second one ?
S.S. : Yes, indeed : the second programme is about housing. Carried out jointly with Habitat for Humanity, it has been going since January 2013. It concerns 50 houses therefore 50 families. Our activists go to the slums and discuss with their inhabitants. Then, they select families : we are dealing with poor ones. We offer to help each of them with a loan of 60,000 roupies, with no interest rates and people have to collect some more money themselves in order to rise enough cash to build a house.
These families don’t have a « proper » house right now and most of the time it is far too small for the whole family : with our programme the houses are at least 300 square metres each. Once people free their lands, there are three steps : we give 10,000 roupies after the completion of the foundations of the new house. Then, 20,000 more roupies after the walls completion and finally 30,000 roupies after the roofing work.
4/ And for which reasons most of those people can not access to government programmes ?
S.S. : The people we are supporting are poor people. Even though, they are not below the poverty line (BPL). Government is only helping BPL families, which embody 95% of the slum areas inhabitants. Concerning the housing problem particularly, the State is only helping people possessing house titles. Despite many of these people have been living at this particular place for several decades, not all of them do possess a house title ! Finally, a majority of those people used to be unorganized sector workers and did not get proper contracts, benefits and wages during their active lives : we are helping them even more once they can not go to work anymore.
5/ According to you, what are the main challenges and victories you observed in working on these two programmes ?
S.S. : I would say people are happy to beneficiate the programmes. One proof is people keep asking us to be a part of the housing programme. Unfortunately, we can not help everybody as our funding is limited and what we provide is a loan so people have to start paying our partner back 2 months after completion of their new house. Still, they will pay back 1250 Rs/- each month for the next 4 years.
One of the main victories is that Habitat for Humanity is supplying the house building with volunteers. Tens of people come to work without actually being paid, on their free will. We observe students coming as well as companies’ workers, foreigners, and so on. It allows poor people to save money and it is a plus for social diversity and social cohesion.