Paharia Seva Samiti, Satia
Paharias are one of the most marginalized and exploited Tribal communities in Jharkhand. They live in the most interior villages of Rajmahal hills cut off from the rest of the world. Nothing of the modern development has reached to them. Education is almost nil, as low as 6%. No Health centers. They totally depend on the herbal medicines found on the hills for treatment when sick. Many die of Kalaazar, malaria, TB cholera, diarrhea, etc. No roads to their villages which on the hill tops. Child mortality is as high as 140. Death of mothers during child birth is also very high. Paharias are on the verge of extinction. There is more death than life. Most of them are malnourished and anemic.
We, Jesuits started our apostolate among them in 1983. In the beginning people very unfriendly and suspicious. Slowly we have won over their confidence. Our first attention was on their health as they had no access to modern medicines. So Fathers began to promote herbal medicines. A herbal garden and treatment centre was started in 1993. They managed to get herbal practitioners in the villages together and share their knowledge with each other. We documented them and made available to others also. The village medicine men began to meet regularly and share their experiences and learn from each other. A herbal course for new practitioners to identify medicinal plants and to learn their medicinal effect started.
At present Paharia Seva Samiti has a Herbal Dispensary serving an average of 30 patients daily. People from very far places come here for medicine. Medicines for chronic diseases, skin diseases, preventive medicine for malaria, T.B., Arthritis, piles, gas troubles, etc. are of high demand. Oil for massage, paralysis, sciatic pains, etc., are very effective. Satia was a malaria prone area. But today it has become a normal area. The school children take preventives and they hardly get sick. This year we held three different courses for herbal practitioners: one for the beginners, one for the advanced group and a third one for those who want to give training on herbal medicine in their own places (Trainng for Trainers). All the three courses were well attended. We have a team of three Jesuits and three SCJM Sisters.
Samiti is reaching out to 37 Paharia villages in an intense way. Our effort is to bring changes in all aspects of their life. There should be visible change in their life that others can notice and take up for themselves. We have an ambitious program to bring malnutrition to a zero point in these 37 villages. There are 4 women animators visiting the villages and counseling the mothers about nutrition and hygiene. They visit their assigned villages twice in a month for meetings and counseling. They find out the various problems and sickness and help them to solve the problems. 15 epileptic patients were found out through such visits and they are treated through the help of Ms. Butigieg Marcette. As they visit TB patients come to light and ask for our help. They are 3 such patients who are guided for treatment with the help of FMPB (managed by another Christian sect) Mission Hospital Chandikola near Daharlangi in Littipara Block. And also some childless couples come for their treatment. And PSS has taken initiative to take them to CSST Sisters at Hathimara for their councilling and treatment. There are 5 such couples helped this year.
Paharia Seva Samiti runs crèche in six villages. 109 children from the age of 6 months to 3 years are taken care through these crèche. 109 children are served hot cooked food twice in a day. Every day the mothers or the elder siblings bring the children to the crèche and feed them. We notice visible difference in these children in their health after starting to attend the crèche
Women Animators hold meetings in all the 37 villages. Total No of Meeting completed – 138, Number of Participants attended in the meeting is 1863. Pregnant Women – 42, adolescent – 66, government stakeholders -23, male -212 attended the meeting.
We started a school for the Paharia children in 1989 with nine children. Gradually the school began to grow. More and more children began to come to study here. A hostel for the students was essential because they were coming from far villages on the hill tops. At present we have an upper primary school up to class VI. There are 510 students daily attending the school. There are 210 new admissions for the next academic year. Most of the students are residential. Besides the formal syllabus, we teach the students about the history of the Paharias, their tradition and culture, environment, herbal medicines, etc. Our effort is to make them competent to look after the needs of their community and effectively deal with the government officers to get their basic rights and live a descent life respected by all.
Paharia Seva Samiti also has 12 study centers for government school going children. Due to lockdown schools are closed. Here in given situation online classes are not possible due to poor internet facilities more over many of the children and the parents cannot afford smart phones. Therefore the study centers become the only means of learning. Total children attending village based study centers are 446 (Boys – 214, Girls – 232). These study centers are run by local volunteers (12). Volunteers are dedicated to their teaching, and encourage the students to be regular.
Jesuits are reaching out to the youth to create in them a sense of purpose in life and to look for ways and means to improve their way of life. In all the 37 villages youth groups are formed with a total of 444 members. Members of group are aware on ecological crisis and have taken initiatives to plant saplings and planning to conserve with rain water harvesting system. 34 youth from among them are specially trained to learn about the schemes and entitlements by the government and to create linkages with the Block Office once the lockdown is lifted and movement are regularized. Youth supported in spreading awareness in 37 villages about Covid-19 and taking active steps to prevent its spreading in our target area.