Community Development in Shirahatti

(Shirahatti, Gadag District, Karnataka) In January 2011 the Salesians of Don Bosco, through the Konkan Development Society (KDS) Social Development Wing, began a study of two backward Districts of Northern Karnataka, namely Bagalkot and Gadag, with the intention of providing assistance to the local people to enhance their quality of life through Education and Skill Training. Subsequently it was decided to focus our attention on Shirahatti Taluka of Gadag district. From June 2011 study classes were started for 118 Dalit children, Skill Training for women in tailoring and training programmes to form Self Help Groups (SHGs). Two staff members were placed in Shirahatti, in a rented house. These were local community Dalit leaders. Cooperation of the local leaders helped us to expand our services to more people, particularly to children, youth and women. Due to lack of funds we had to limit the operation to 4 villages, from 87 existing villages. Our small beginning yielded a heartening response and we were motivated to extend the scope of our intervention to benefit more people. KDS plans to extend the scope of its support for the people of Shirahatti and with this in mind a preliminary meeting was held in September 2013, with the Executive Officer and the Panchayat Development Officers of 60 villages, to ascertain the priorities for need-based intervention There was unanimous appreciation of the efforts made by KDS and a request to extend the number of beneficiaries under the schemes. In December 2013 our hope for a partnership with a like- minded organization was realized, when the US based Small Steps Foundation, through the good offices of Mrs. Chatlotte Newnes and her daughter Candice who lives in the US, offered to fund the Skill Training Project for 540 Girls, over a period of 2 years, beginning in March 2014. This project will provide vocational and life skills support to drop-outs and needy young girls in the economically and socially vulnerable group. It also envisages providing help in placing these girls in suitable institutions/organizations for internship and on -the-job training and placement.