Vanarai was established by Padma Vibhushan Dr. Mohan Dharia in the year 1982. After achieving considerable success, it was registered under the Charitable Trust Act in 1986. Over the past 30 years, Vanarai has spread it’s ambit to all parts of Maharashtra and now is recognised as a noteworthy voluntary organisation at the State and National levels due to its significant achievements in the society. Various initiatives were taken up by Vanarai in more than 250 villages with the chief objective of making them self-reliant through people’s participation. We conduct trainings, motivation and awareness camps to encourage locals to assist in the development of their villages. A major activity of Vanarai involves transforming wasteland into productive, fertile land. Over the years, tree plantation drives are conducted in various villages and have also encouraged farmers and other voluntary organisations to take up the green initiative. Watershed management activities and construction of Vanarai Bunds (low cost technique using empty cement bags) are carried out regularly resulting in water self-sufficient, tanker-free villages. Health management and sanitation is also one of the developmental pillars of Vanarai. We conduct awareness camps; construct individual toilets and separate toilet blocks for girl students in the schools. The dropout rate of adolescent girls from schools has substantially decreased. We undertake health camps, trainings and awareness programs in every village we work. The training programmes are conducted in Vanarai Training Centres at different locations. Skill development has been our prime objective. With these trainings and health camps we aim at the betterment of the socio-economic position of the beneficiaries. These activities at the grassroots level leads to our goal of self-reliant villages. So far, more than 250 families have shifted from urban slums back to their native villages. Vanarai believes in shaping young minds and this idea gave birth to the ‘Eco Club’. The club involves school students for various environment-friendly activities. It strives to create awareness about environment conservation, waste management, water conservation and tree plantation. Activities like bottle gardening, best out of waste, essay competitions and drawing competitions help children to express their ideas and to understand the importance of taking care of their surroundings. Today, Eco Clubs have successfully spread to thousands of schools. This year we look forward that these schools spearhead this audacious, but achievable dream project of plastic free society. We undertake Motivational Training and Awareness Programs in the Areas of Operation. The Training is mainly in the Fields of Modern Agricultural Technology, Afforestation, Water Management, Women Employment, Skill development, Sanitation, Animal Husbandry. The impact of this training is helping to build the socio economic condition of villages. These activities at the grassroots level leads to our goal of making villages self-reliant via Shramdan (Peoples Participation). So far, more than 250 families have shifted from urban slums back to their native villages. Vanarai publishes a monthly magazine devoted to specific subjects in the field of environment, sustainability and rural development and also has its International Standard Certification. The magazine has received many prestigious awards on national and international platforms .A Special Issue is published annually and is widely acknowledged by policy-makers, academics, scientists, and village communities as a value addition to Indian environmental research and literature.
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Today, Vanarai is working in more than 250 villages, with the purpose of making them self-reliant by mobilizing local leadership, sensitizing the community, and encouraging people’s participation through training and awareness camps. This collective effort has rendered 90,000 hectares of wasteland productive, and has united more than 1, 85, 314 villagers throughout Maharashtra. Through Vanarai’s facilitation, the rural community in Maharashtra, under the leadership of Gram Panchayats and affiliated NGOs, has planted more than 20 million plants of various species.
Vanarai Bunds’ were developed by the organization from the objective of storing and conserving the water flow after the rains, by using the locally available material in rural areas. These bunds are built immediately after the rains when the water velocity is comparatively low. This water can be used for domestic, agricultural and drinking water for cattle and at the same time increases the water levels of the nearby wells, bore wells and ground water. These Bunds are extremely useful in minimizing the drought effect. This bund is built in the Nala or stream basin as follows. The things required for building these bunds are: Plastic Gunny bags, Soil and rope and needle to stitch. Begin by filling the gunny bags withsoil and moorum. Stitch the end. For building a Bund of around 12 mtr have around 700- 800 gunny bags filled. Before starting to build the Bund, remove stones and mud, so that water wouldn’t flow from below the Bund. Arrange the gunny bags in two parallel rows, leaving a little space in the middle. After every 2-3 layers, this Space should be filled by the soil from the surrounding area, so that no water flows from the gaps between the bags. This process has to be repeated every year, by replacing the gunny bags. The efforts are paid off because water is more easily available to us.
Every year more than three lakh Vanarai Bunds are built through Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS), People Participation and Shramdaan. A complete movement have begun through this. The work done by the school students in this movement had forced the UNICEF to take a note of the same and they had published the same on their website. This technique has been very well acknowledged and accepted throughout the country. Our beloved Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi, had implemented the same in his home state while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. On the basis of this technique he got implemented and the local name given to them was ‘Bori Bund’.
In recent years, after observing the alarming drop-out rate of girl students from secondary-level schools due to the lack of sanitation facilities, Vanarai has laid special emphasis on improving health and hygiene facilities in the villages. Along with conducting awareness camps, we have also constructed individual toilet structures, as well as toilets and sanitation infrastructure for high-school girls. Due to these activities, the dropout rate of school going girls has gone down from 60% to 26% in 11 villages. Moreover, the bi-annual health camps conducted in all of our villages have received a tremendous response, having reached more that 25, 000 people.
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