169 deaths of tribal children due to malnutrition in the Mokhada block of the then Thane district initiated the formation of a field action project of the college of social work, Nirmala Niketan in 2006 thus AROEHAN was born.
From a field action project in 2006, AROEHAN transformed into a registered non-profit organization in the year 2015.
In the last decade, AROEHAN has increased its footprint across Mokhada, Jawhar, Palghar, and Dahanu blocks of Palghar district and established credibility in the area especially for its work in water conservation, health and nutrition, solar based irrigation and for introducing farmers to second cropping during the rabi season for growing vegetables and engaging in floriculture.
Integrated approach for the empowerment and upliftment of any community and strives to work on the four verticals of
Water conservation and livelihood
To bring sustainable change to the lives of tribal communities and rural poor such that they are empowered to access and utilize their resources to the optimum, keeping in mind the principles of social justice and human dignity.
To create an empowered cadre of tribal and rural youth who will initiate and sustain efforts of change in their communities, upholding the values of personal integrity, tolerance and justice.
- Reduce migration by 50%
- Zero malnutrition deaths
- No ‘Out of school’ child
- Establishment of an Educational hub with STEM learning and overall development of children
- Establishment of a Citizen’s forum with special emphasis on women
In the next five years AROEHAN envisions creation of model villages in the Mokhada block of Palghar District
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! This is the reality in most of the tribal villages located in the hilly terrains of Maharashtra. With the support of Siemens India Ltd., the CTARA group of IIT conducted a study that revealed the water stress areas in the Mokhada block of Palghar. We drafted a plan for water conservation with the help of the study and over years AROEHAN has built several water conservation and rainwater harvesting infrastructures. So far, 200+ small and medium-sized check dams, sub-surface bunds, cordons, and 610 farm ponds with a storage capacity of 35000 liters each have been built. We also paid attention to loose boulder structures, repaired defunct well, and build new wells. These works recharged the groundwater and raised the water table in at least 13 Gram Panchayats of Mokhada. Over 100 crores liters of water were stored and the increased soil moisture regenerated tons of biomass. The number of ‘thirst days’ eventually reduced in these villages which had been a huge problem for the tribes in the past. Due to the water availability, many villagers were encouraged the production of their own bricks and they also started to utilize more land for agriculture
AROEHAN emerged after our attention was drawn to the harrowing health crisis, the death of 169 malnourished children in Mokhada in 2006. Since then we have implemented arrays of projects in the Health vertical. In order to tackle malnutrition, we raised awareness about reproductive health among pregnant and lactating mothers and promoted early childhood care practices. We increased the engagement of the villagers in the Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHNSC) and helped with the community health monitoring. We also encouraged Gram Sabha in the villages to pass resolutions against child marriages.
In the Palghar block, AROEHAN has impacted the lives of over 15000 pregnant and lactating women and helped over 800+ undernourished children. We have conducted over 3000 sessions with more than 5000 adolescent girls to educate them about life skills and reproductive health. We have activated and trained 225 VHNSCs and over 620 Mata Samitis for monitoring health and nutrition services and a similar project is ongoing in 45 villages of Mokhada. With the help of Siemens Ltd. and DHFL we were able to install 3 USG machines in Palghar, Jawahar, and Mokhada Rural Hospitals. This was a huge step since it helped to track the health of the pregnant women and the baby and in case of any abnormalities, we had the chance of taking corrective measures beforehand. Anthropometric and early screening equipment kits are distributed to over 150 ASHAs in Mokhada Black that have helped to look after high-risk patients.
We introduced allied agriculture activities to the farmers through our Livelihood interventions. These activities strengthened their agriculture practices and aided more financial income. In 2012 we began such initiatives with only 7 farmers and their 11 acres of land. In this decade, AROEHAN has managed to reach over 1000 farmers across the project areas and we introduced them to modern techniques to increase their yield. They have augmented their incomes by adopting new agricultural practices like drip irrigation, mulching, and also solar-based lift irrigation that makes sure the optimal use of water for their crops in the Rabi season. We have also provided various equipment for allied livelihood like papad making machines, oil crushers, rice and masala mill, livestock, etc. for the marginal and landless farm labourers through the Self-Help groups (SHGs).
AROEHAN’s first educational initiative was in 2009 to teach certain life skills to adolescents in tribal villages. Our aim was to make them aware of their capabilities, encourage them to study post-school, and let them know that there are various ways to make a living. This would keep them away from the tradition of early marriages since childbearing at a young age can lead to under-nutrition. This initiative went on till 2012 and over the years we have introduced several other programs in our Education Vertical. We brought up the idea of the School Committee with themes of culture, sports, cleanliness, etc. This would brush up their social skills, teach them to be a leader, and be confident in their future. In recent years we have been working closely with the School Management Committees in more than 100 Schools. We have also encouraged parents to play an active role to look after their children’s academics and also develop an interest in school activities. With the support of Siemens India Ltd., we launched the ‘Jigyaasa Project’ in ten Ashram Schools of Mokahada. This project has launched several programs to develop scientific temperament among students for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths), benefitting over 8000 students from 3rd to 10 Grade.
In the quest for bringing sustainable change to the lives of tribal and the rural population, AROEHAN works closely with villagers through women’s groups and statutory committees of the Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat. We seek to empower villagers and increase their engagement in participatory decision-making regarding village development. We have established Pada Samiti, a committee with selected locals that work closely with AROEHAN in 62 hamlets. We train them consistently on better governance and through these committees, we come to know about the issues that need attention, the whereabouts of ongoing projects, and the impact of certain initiatives. We also make sure that the citizens of the village are involved in the decisions made by the government departments and bridge their communication gap. We make sure they take complete advantage of government schemes and are not exploited in the process. Due to the credibility of AROEHAN, more people have become part of various initiatives for development