The initiation of the community services activities by the GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, in different parts of Hyderabad, coincided with the Foundation Stone Laying ceremony of the GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL).The Foundation Stone of GHIAL was laid in April 2005 by Smt. Sonia Gandhi who also , inaugurated the Mobile Medicare Unit (MMU), signifying the launch of the Foundation activities in Hyderabad.
The preliminary step was to study and identify the needs and concerns of the communities affected by the airport construction. Ever since, the Foundation has undertaken intensive activities in the villages of Golapally, Mamdipally, Airport Colony and Shamshabad surrounding the airport. GMRVF activities also extend to several other villages surrounding the airport site. The Foundation is also striving to make the city of Hyderabad cleaner and more hygienic by building and operating several ‘Pay and Use’ toilets in partnership with the Municipal Commission of Hyderabad.
Initiatives in Hyderabad:
Education: GMRVF is providing infrastructural support like toilets, benches, electrical wiring, fans, lights, play equipments, etc. to government schools around the Airport.
In 2006-07, evening tuitions were started at Golapally, Mamdipally, Airport Colony and Shamshabad for students of Std. VII, IX and X. More than 150 children took the tuitions. It was found that the performance of students attending the tuition classes was better than the average school going children who did not take the tuitions. An indicator of this has been the 100% pass results of the Std. VII students who took the tuitions.
Besides the after-school tuitions, several extra-curricular activities and competitions etc. are being conducted for students to help upgrade the overall quality of education and performance of students.
Around 40 children from government schools at Golapally and Mamidipally attended the summer programme conducted by the Foundation. The students received lessons in Mathematics and Science through innovative teaching methods. Besides academics, several sessions on health and hygiene , film screenings, visits to Science Museum, arts and crafts classes etc. were also conducted, that saw enthusiastic participation by the students. The summer programmes are based on the concept of promoting learning through fun activities.
GMRVF conducted a survey in the selected communities, to identify children in the age group of 3-5 years who were not attending Anganwadis. As an outcome of the survey, it has opened Bala Badis at Quazigally and Rayannaguda. These Bala Badis work with children in the age group of 3-5 years to impart learning to children through fun activities, inculcation of good habits in them, to name a few. The children are also provided a nutritious snack everyday.
The Bala Badis focus on the holistic development of the child through activities like songs, games etc. The concerted efforts of the Foundation, with this age group has helped in school-preparedness while also involving the parents in their child’s learning and development process.. Another key role that Bala Badis play is to keep the older siblings in schools. Often the older sisters or brothers have to stay at home to look after the younger ones when the parents are away at work. The Bala Badis by way of taking care of the younger children, help the older children to attend school.
Health: The Mobile Medicare Unit (MMU) is a Foundation service in collaboration with Help Age India. Through the MMU free medical consultation, medicines and referral services are provided to the elderly in about 21 villages around Shamshabad, The service benefits nearly 2000 beneficiaries every month. General medical camps and special camps like eye camps with free cataract surgeries at hospitals and distribution of spectacles, camps on chickengunya, BP, diabetes, etc. are also organized regularly for the community residents.
Weekly medical clinics have been started at Golapally, Mamidipally and Airport Colony that offer free medical advice and medicines to the community. These clinics reach out to 200 people every month. Health check-ups are being conducted regularly for school children in schools at Airport Colony and Golapally villages.
A Nutrition Centre has been opened at Airport Colony, which is aimed at preventing nutritional deficiency among pregnant and lactating women in the area. Identified pregnant and lactating women in the community are being provided nutritious food once in a day. This centre is catering to around 15-20 women.
Hygiene and Sanitation:
In a Public-Private partnership with the Municipal Commission of Hyderabad, the Foundation is building and operating Pay-and-Use toilets in the city. These facilities, in the short time they have been in operation, have won recognition for setting new standards in the construction and maintenance of public facilities. They have been developed on the basis of thorough research and high level of professional design inputs. Constant monitoring and inspections help to keep up the maintenance standards. At present, under the first phase, there are six toilets in use, in Hyderabad. Around 1000 people use these toilets every day. Under the second phase, three toilets will be constructed in the city. To adhere to the high standards of cleanliness and maintenance, workshops are being organized for the caretakers of the toilets.
In order to provide livelihood opportunities and guidance to the youth in the target areas, a training centre has been set up in Hyderabad. The centre primarily provides skill training to unemployed youth (from Std. VII pass to intermediate level) from poor families residing in the targeted communities. Special attention is given to those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. After the training, the Foundation closes the loop by facilitating bank loans for those who want to set up micro-enterprises, and working with potential employers for placements.
Since its inception in 2006, several vocational training programmes have been organized. These include, programmes on electrical wiring and appliances repair, computer hardware, computer data entry and DTP work, refrigeration and air-conditioning. Around 150 students have been trained so far in various skills. Apart from the technical skill, significant emphasis is placed on developing the entrepreneurial spirit of the participants, strengthening their motivation, communication skills, confidence, etc. Most of these programmes have yielded above75% placements for the students.
Tailoring classes for women have been started at Golapally, Mamidapally and the Airport Colony where the first batch of close to 50 women have already completed training. A cosmetics and beauty training centre has also been started at Shamshabad where the first batch of 30 women are being trained..
This besides, students have also been sponsored for potential employment generating courses including driving classes, in other institutes.
In an endeavour to encourage deserving youth to take up professional courses, three candidates from Gollapalli village were identified and sponsored for ‘Landscaping and Survey’ course at National Academy of Construction (NAC). These students have already been placed with jobs and at present seven more candidates are undergoing training at NAC.
Awareness sessions on various issues are conducted for the community members. One such session on the Right to Information was organized for ward members of the Shamshabad panchayat.
Community libraries have been opened at three villages with books for all age groups and sections of the community.
Important days are celebrated with the community to keep them informed and generate awareness about the significance of the celebrations and various other issues. On World Environment Day, various activities like rallies, tree plantation drive etc. were held for children at the Mamidipally government school.