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Swedes support Indian villagers during Covid-19

Financial contributions from ordinary Swedes enable the Grampari centre to offer relief programmes with a difference.

During a time of transition for the Swedish Initiatives of Change Assocation, a small but important contribution has been made to the villagers of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Money raised through the sale of items at the IofC centre in Stockholm, as well as individual donations, totalling 290,351 Indian rupees (c.36,000 SEK), has been used by Grampari in the last year for specific programes.

The Grampari centre (, based in the hills of Panchgani, has a mission to “build the capacity of rural Maharashtra through thoughtful, community led programmes that foster both spiritual and economic development”. Over the past 12 years, Grampari has impacted 158 villages and 30,000 people through robust programmes in the areas of livelihoods, watershed management, school handwash, governance, and youth. Grampari works with the understanding that “the practice of being guided by inner listening, having clarity of vision and always keeping the community at the centre can create extraordinary change.”

The contribution from IofC Sweden has been used for four programmes in particular.

ASHA volunteers at Grampari

Supporting ASHA volunteers

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) are volunteers appointed by State Governments in India. ASHA, meaning ‘hope’ in local language, are mostly female members of the village and have played a crucial role in containing the spread of Covid-19 in villages. Grampari offered programmes for ASHA volunteers to give them personal encouragement and space to reflect and recharge their batteries in the midst of their intensive work. One of the vounteers said: “Since losing my husband six months ago, this is the first time I have felt so relaxed and close to myself.” Another said that she had decided to stop beating her children for every small mistake they make, and to apologise to them for her behaviour.

Handwash Station

School Hand-wash Programme

For over eight years Grampari has been conducting a programme for rural government primary schools, with a focus on creating awareness around personal hygiene. The latest iteration of this programme involved 50 school students, four teachers and 17 ASHA workers. A hand washing station, called ‘Tippy Tap’, was installed in a school in Wai. This phase is being extended to 17 schools and is expected to benefit approximately 1,100 students and 60 teachers.

Children at workshop at Grampari writing their reflections

Children’s workshop

School children have been among those most impacted by Covid due to the requirement of virtual lessons. The limited availability of resources and technology, along with attention deficit and compromised social skills, have been widely observed by local school teachers.  

Grampari hosted 30 students and five of their teachers from Divediv for a day long workshop, which involved games, discussions and self reflection through inner listening. After the self reflection time one of the students shared that he had lied with his mother about money she had given him for shopping, and that he would set this right with her on his return home. Another said she had resolved to help more at home rather than leaving everything to her parents.

Impact of landslides

Relief works

The second wave of Covid-19 affected many families severely, with loss of life as well as livelihood. The region around Grampari also received excessively high rainfall during the monsoons resulting in landslides taking the lives of eight people. Grampari was able to help provide affected families with food grains, clothes, blankets and other relief materials. Overall 280 families (1,120 people) affected by landslides from the three villages of Zor, Golewadi and Kondhavane of Wai block and 800 plus families affected by Covid-19 from Wai, Jaoli and Mahabaleshwar blocks benefited from these relief activities in July-August 2021. 

A fuller report of these projects which were funded through the donations from IofC Sweden is available in PDF format here. A video about the work of Grampari is available here. If you would like to contribute to the ongoing work of Grampari, IofC Sweden can channel donations if you Swish to 123 609 94 69, with the message “For Grampari, India”.