Project Setu was done for a small, 30 family, fishermen community residing along the banks of lake Godh near village Sindodi, which is a village in the Shirur block of Pune district about 85 Km from Pune. The fishing is done in the Godhlake by the local fishermen and the main catch is Scampi (giant freshwater prawns) which is exported to Europe. One of the main buyers from Europe is Coop – a large retail chain from Switzerland. Coop felt the need to improve the living conditions of the fishermen and selected Rotary Club of Poona (RCPA) as their partner to help in implementing the improvement projects. Coop also provided funds for the project.
RCPA with the help of an NGO Sosva Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI) conducted a need identification survey of the community and found that primary focus of the project should be on water, health and hygiene, child education, house repair, women empowerment, skill training and creating awareness of social entitlements provided by the Government.
The first programme of Project Setu was to build toilets for the community – 17 toilets were built, one each for permanent residents of the community. An orientation program was conducted with the help of STAPI to dissuade the residents from open defecation and make them use the toilets. Community members were taught how to keep the toilets clean and cleaning material provided to each family. As of now all toilets are fully utilized. More programs were conducted to ensure the participation of the community members in keeping their living area clean and good hygiene practices were taught to the community members. Health camps were held for children, women and young girls to advise them on hygiene and health issues. Doctors were called from the local PHC centre and from Pune to address major health concerns and also to distribute free medicines.
An Anganwadi was started for young children by STAPI and toys, games and educational charts were provided through kind donations from Rotarians. At the last count almost 25 children were attending on a regular basis. The Anganwadi was also used for conducting an adult literacy program to teach basic Marathi to adults in the community. All the houses were taken up for repair and painting and community members provided manual labour for assisting professional masons.
The main success of Project Setu, over one year, was to transform the mindset of the villagers and to make them aware of their social entitlements like obtaining an Adhaar Card, Bank Account, BPL card etc. so that the community could avail the benefits provided by the government. In addition, training the community to help themselves through “shramdaan” – in keeping the village clean, repairing own houses, planting trees, etc. Future projects include greening of the community area, providing safe drinking water, smokeless cooking and solar lighting for the village.