Funded by Gujarat State AIDS Control Society, the project was launched in September 2003 with a view to prevent HIV infections among truckers in Hazira industrial area. The project is based in truck parking areas of Reliance Industries Ltd. and Essar Logistics Ltd. Both these companies have signed MoUs with us for supporting the project.
India has one of the largest road networks in the world, involving millions of drivers and helpers.Truck drivers and crew members are majorly engaged for transportation of goods to and from the various industries to various parts of the country.They spend long periods of time, away from their families, not only they have common practice for them to have relations with sex workers they also have more purchasing power and hence indulge with multiple sexual partners, on the highways or halting point. Truckers are also reported to have sex with male sexual partners (including cleaners). Many truckers are in habit of taking alcohol and drugs which increases their risk of infections. Lack of entertainment, consumption of alcohol increases chances of high risk behaviour. As they spend on an average 55%-75% of their time on road, interventions and service delivery is possible only at halting points. The Work conditions bring pressure and it provokes them for the other entertainment activities including sexual relations making them the High Risk Groups. Thus this group tends to exhibit a very high level of Sexual High Risk Behaviour. Also this group is a high carrier of HIV/AIDS into the local community due to their mobility. We have been working among truckers of Essar Logistics Ltd., Reliance industries Ltd., KRIBHCO truck parking area and Ichchapore crossroad locations. We provide them general health problem treatment, counselling for STI/HIV infection and encourage them for HIV testing the facility for which is within our reach at Reliance HIV & TB centre. We also undertake social marketing condoms through condom depots and our peer educators. When a trucker is found HIV positive, we link him to Reliance centre for further treatment. So far we have touched a population of -----------truckers under the project.
In August 2015, we started intervention among truckers in Ankleshwar area on NH8, in collaboration with Apollo Tyre Foundation. The project is more holistic as the focus is not only on STI/HIV infection but an overall health care of truckers. The location is also not a parking area but holt points of truckers while on highway and because of this the strategies and activities are different. We work at Rajpipla chokdi, Asian Paint chokdi, GIDC, Ansar Market, Mulad Patia & Parking areas of hotel located on national highway no. 8 for past 2 years. We run a general health clinic, organize health camps on eye problems, skin problems etc. For just Rs.15/- a driver gets medicine for small sicknesses with expert consultations. HIV testing and counselling is also available. We spread message through various IEC activities. We also organize satellite clinics at various locations in the area as the truckers prefer to get services from the nearest point. Support of transporters and other stakeholders has made this project a success. Our experience is that despite all odds, truckers do respond to the messages and the program positively.
We have a FICTC facility for HIV testing at the site. We have also started the program for vision camp on a regular basis. Apart from this we observe and organize programs on No-Tobacco Day, No-Diabetes Day, Truckers Day and World Health Day. Apollo Tyre Foundation has a very positive and pragmatic approach to the program. They are not target oriented, but emphasis on quality work. Hence, we have more flexibility in project management and greater scope of learning. The support of the stakeholders is very good in the area as they are willing to contribute in terms of time and money.
Three million women are engaged in commercial sex work in India. With changing times the nature of this work is changing. The common image of brothel under control of a senior sex worker is out dated. Much of the soliciting is done in scattered way with mobile phones. This has made the intervention challenging.
Hazira, being industrial area, has approximately a population of 50,000 single male migrants. However, along with them have some workers with families, some single female have migrated with or without any accompanying male partner. Home based commercial sex work is practiced by some women. Most of them work as contract labour in various factories. They are unskilled workers. They indulge in sex work during time available after the factory hours.
For past one year, we have extended this project to Sachin and Kanakpur area on the outskirts of Surat city. There are lot of industries, especially textile units and nearly one lac migrants workers are living here. From the point of view of HIV infections, it is a high prevalence zone.
Women engaged in sex work have various reasons to get into this profession, ranging from dire economic need to indulgence fashions. There are women who have commitment to older people back home, payment of debts, or educating their children, which forces them to earn a little extra money to make two ends meet. But they have to keep this confidential and that is a big challenge for the project team. Equally challenging is the work with homosexuals who are extremely vulnerable to sexual infections.
We facilitate their regular medical check up, HIV testing in collaboration with local Primary Health Center, provide free condoms as well as subsidised condoms under social marketing scheme, treatment for STI/RTI , and counselling. Currently are working with 850 female sex workers and 220 homosexual persons.
Women have always been in focus in the working of LVS. Our two major projects revolve around women’s health issues. As we continued our work, we started realizing that success of the projects on health is affected by vulnerabilities of women and their families.
• They do not have documents – BPL card, ration card etc.- to access benefits of any govt. scheme.
• Many of them are illiterate/semi literate.
• As the family income is limited and small, any urgent financial need creates crisis.
• As they have migrated from different states, socio-cultural differences do not allow them to form cohesive neighbourhood.
We realized that we should start mobilizing these women around some activity. We started forming thrift and credit groups because it is the best way to create economic safety net and also organize them. We formed six Self Help Groups and this helped them as economic safety net. All these groups are registered as Sakhi Mandals with Taluka Panchayat.
We have organized vocational training with funding from Mahila Arthik Vikas Nigam. We have facilitated them to get Aadhar cards, PAN cards, voter cards and open Bank Accounts prior to Jan Dhan Yojan and we are continuing this work to empower them.
We have help them organize NavChetna Mahila Mandal, a community based organization which is registered with charity commissioner’s office. We take various training and capacity building programs on various subjects like women and child health , legal literacy , nutrition, sexual harassments at work place, labour laws etc. The Mandal also undertakes cultural activities like Vishva Karma Puja, Shishir Utsav etc. to bring cohesiveness.
Samarthan women development centre is outcome of our long time working with women of migrant population in Surat industrial areas. We have come to realize the vulnerability of this population in terms of identity, economic security, health issues and cultural cohesion. Through SAMARTHAN we work towards reduction of these vulnerabilities and empower these women through providing information, knowledge and this building their capacities, facilitation / linkage, and counselling.
We welcome any Indian woman above the age of 15 to be part of SAMARTHAN Identity and documentation:
We facilitate to get Aadhar card, PAN card and any other necessary documents to link them to various govt. welfare schemes.
Capacity building- Mobilization-Organization:
Perspective building on status of women and women’s rights
Legal training and facilitation of legal help
Linkage to health related govt. schemes including health insurance.
Developing understanding of relation of health to hygiene and nutrition.
Understanding health as basic human right. Economic Security:
Thrift and Credit
Skill development for income generation
Linkage to bank and credit
PROPOSED PROGRAMS FOR 2018-19:
1 Regular medical camps
2 Women’s health issues
3 Workshop on social security schemes
4 Food and nutrition for health
5 Women’s legal rights
6 Women’s safety and security
7 Domestic violence
8 International Women’s Day Celebration
There has been several studies on anaemia and malnutrition among adolescent boys and girls, both in rural and urban areas. . The National Family Health survey has data on children between 6 to 35 months and then women in the age group 15 to 49. 55% women in the age group 15 to 49 is anaemic. There is hardly any data on health status of adolescent age boys. According to National Family Survey, More than half of children are anaemic even if their mother has 12 or more years of education or is in highest wealth quintile. Specific data on health of adolescent population is not available in public domain. There is regular health check up at schools by govt.
The intervention on malnutrition is through giving IFA tablets once a week, providing midday meal. However, we feel that along with these solutions, there is a great scope for change in eating behaviours and food habits, which will go long way to healthy life. Hence, we engage students and parents on this issue.
Also adolescent age is very sensitive as lot of physical, biological and psychological changes happen. Linked to this are problems of sexual molestation and exploitation. We talk to young boys and girls about scientific reasons of changes in this age group, how to cope up with them and teach them necessary life skills.
We have adopted class VII and VIII of 15 schools of Surat Municipal Corporation in three different areas – Adajan, Katargaam and Varachha. The project is a unique experiment where apart from Lok Vikas Sanstha, Junior Chamber International, Surat Family Physician’s Association and Krishi Vigyan Kendra have joined hands in completely voluntary program