Dear friend,

Road widening:

For half a decade we were worried about the axe that could fall on us at Tara due to road widening. We kept talking about it and also speculating as to when will it happen. Finally, it happened in the financial year 2015-2016 and we have lost 26 structures, one third of the hospital building and more than a hectare of land. It has meant massive disruption of our activities, but we must say that, thanks to the competent advice of a life member Shri Deepak Dave and a structural engineer, we have been able to demolish - we did it ourselves - the structures and the hospital building without closing down the hospital even for a day. The hospital ran and the patients were treated; but we had to postpone eye and surgical operations for three weeks. Not a small achievement. But it has meant spending a fortune, almost all the money the government gave as compensation after taking care of some unavoidable commitments.

However, there is still a lot of anxiety. We are told that in the next few years, we will lose in road widening what is left of the hospital building. This has meant that we have had to plan and execute repairing and rebuilding the structures in such a way that the material we use is of a type that it could be dismantled and re-used. And it has also meant that we plan for a new hospital a kilometer and a half north of the existing one. We have started planning and have even set up a fund raising committee. We have estimated that we will have to raise nearly five crores to build and equip the new hospital. It will be a 30-bed rural hospital and will provide most diagnostic and curative services.

Anjanvel:

The 20-bed cottage hospital is ready, but for want of a medical graduate we have not been able to start. The nursing home there is working.

Normal activities:

Coming to our normal activities, we will like to say that all of them like our high schools, camping facilities, organic farming, village industries, dairy, herbal nursery are continuing as before. And we are attracting more than 50,000 visitors to Tara.

Educational activities:

Allow us to give some more information about our educational activities. We have three high schools in Tara and around. We get government grant for two high schools but not for the third one. We have no grant for our Adivasi girls hostel too, which has more than a hundred girls. One good thing is that, thanks to the generosity of our friends, we have half completed the Apta high school building and the classes have been shifted to the new building. We plan to start a Junior College in the next academic year. At Tara too, we have a Junior College but have only Arts classes. At Apta, there will be classes for science and we will admit Marathi as well as Urdu medium students. The Apta school will become a Centre for communal harmony.

Branches:

Outside Maharashtra too our activities are showing progress. In Kutch, from the sea shore we are moving inwards as far as education is concerned. The target group however is the same. We have opened a Hindi school for migrant children. It was a dire need. The state had not done anything for them and the migrant community could not have done it, hence we stepped in. Thanks to the Aarti Group, we will have a proper building soon. The school is in Mundra, and we run it in hired rooms in a slum. Thanks to an innovative idea of a donor, our school is a moving school. The students shift to the area where there is a shade. The school is popular. For the Sagar Shalas we had to mobilize the children, but for the Hindi one, the parents bring the children. We run Sagar Shalas, two hostels, a Hindi school and a dispensary in Kutch and also have a Government Childline project.

In J&K, where we were having a computer class, a dairy and youth camps, the dairy has had to be closed but we are working with women and make khadi handkerchiefs in a big way with the help of KVIC. Thanks to the generous donation by Sandvik India, we could repair the building which had been damaged by the last year's heavy rains and floods.

In Uttarakhand, another branch of the YMC in north, we have a dairy, a handloom unit to make quilt and a soap unit. We are spearheading a movement for the entry of Dalits to the temples and we participate in all environmental movements. The Centre there facilitates activities of the RSD as well as those of the NAPM.

In Bihar, we have a relatively small unit in a village named Bihapur. We have a ghani unit and we work among youth. There is, however, an ambitious plan to revive khadi units in the state. This is being done under our KGA. We are raising the needed funds for this.

In Orissa, our activities are concentrated in Dhenkanal, 70 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar. We have a good team there which has raised funds on its own to build a hall, an office and quarters. The team lives in a sort of a commune, and, it, in addition to usual activities, runs a shop where goods are sold at such reasonable prices that it has attracted envy. There are plans to develop expertise in procuring and marketing consumer goods at reasonable rates and multiply the shops.

In UP, in the district Sonbhadra, we are working in an Adivasi area, which is also a Naxal area. While we are implementing scientifically a NABARD supported Wadi Project, we are also trying to work for the total development of the Adivasi community in ten villages. The area, thanks to the industries that are around, has foul atmosphere and polluted water. There are arsenic, fluoride and mercury in all water bodies, causing all the ill effects that the medical text books list. The Centre is planning to take up this issue in cooperation with the famous Gandhi Ashram called Banvasi Ashram and other voluntary agencies.

In Tamilnadu, where we set up a unit immediately after the tsunami, our work has contracted, we are producing power ghanis only. Our activities have reduced for the simple reason that the building where we made soaps, ropes, pickles, palm food products etc., was taken back by the Panchayat. We are, however keen to reestablish ourselves.

In short, the Centre, despite setbacks and financial difficulties, is growing and serving the cause it has given to itself. The cause the Centre is promoting is mainstreaming of rural development and all its activities are concentrated in rural areas. The Centre is for empowering rural people and almost all its workers are drawn from the villages. And we work for communal harmony. We are also preparing the citizens for global warming and the Bapu Kuti Parisar comes handy for this. So also our youth camps.

We hope you would not mind if we end by saying that we raise and spend two crores year after year but this year we would need more, much more. We are enclosing a note which gives some idea of our thinking.

YMC