Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG)

The Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG) is a non-governmental organization based in Irumbai which is located close to Auroville in the Villupuram district , Tamil Nadu , India. It is committed to grass roots community building with the local villages in the Villupuram district on different development areas, namely community development , economic development , capacity building , and psychosocial support . [1]In all those four areas, the ultimate goal is to “achieve the inherent capability of human beings for self-empowerment”. [2]

Founded in 1983, it nowadays incorporates micro finance projects, capacity building trainings and seminars, psychological and physical health initiatives, livelihood trainings and social enterprise trainings, caste integration exchange programs, and exposure field trips. [3]

Mission and values

AVAG collaborates with all sectors of society to bring about holistic and participatory village transformation where the villagers are the main acting force. AVAG sees its main role as enabling the beneficiaries to become more self-empowered. It places relationships between human beings and their behaviors, traditions and prejudices at the foundation of its programs and work with villagers, following the central goal of gender equality. Solidarity and cooperation are also important values ​​to AVAG. [4]

Structure

In July 2000, the Auroville Action Village Trust developed out of AVAG’s various activities in order to be better. Since then, AVAG is a part of this trust. [5] Five trustees from Auroville oversees the running of the organization and ensures that it operates according to its statutes. They are made up of three executives and the two directors Anbu and Moris – who has been responsible for AVAG activities and organizes international development since 1988.

Field work is carried out by a team of 6 workers who come from the United States. They receive special training and are often directly linked to the trustees and direct beneficiaries. Additionally, 2 trainers and a team of 8 support staff make up the rest of the AVAG team. AVAG regularly hosts students, interns and volunteers from abroad who assist in all aspects of program delivery. The direct beneficiaries are the members of the women and men self-help groups(SHGs), who usually meet with them. Every SHG elects an animator and two representatives each month. [6]

Work

To fight gender equality, poverty and limited access to resources for development, AVAG executes a multifaceted community development program, implemented through a structure of nearly 300 SHGs and Federations, with around 4500 women and 600 men, which promotes micro credit, community service, social enterprise development and education. Psychosocial support and capacity building are usually given by AVAG to the federation members and self-help group members in addition.

Programs

[7]

Community development

Activities that fall under this category are those that improve infrastructure, get access to resources and analysis, and discuss long-term assumptions on various social issues such as patriarchal and caste systems.

Exchange programs

Of caste, social status, and geographic isolation.

Work camps and micro projects

AVAG partners with villagers to make small, one-time investments to support the self-help groups in planning and submitting solutions for minor physical infrastructure problems in their rural communities.

Government schemes

Life Insurance Coverage, pension schemes and scholarships for students in grades 9th-12th.

Service and awareness camps

Camps are organized by the SHGs to improve access to healthcare services for poor members, spread awareness of menstrual hygiene, oral and eye care.

Events and community celebrations

SHGs together with local elected officials, and the public at large.

Eco-friendly products for villagers

A store is located on AVAG premises and provides access to affordable eco-friendly technologies for rural communities, such as spirulina supplements, energy powder, CFL bulbs, activated EM, low-cost water filters, and solar-powered devices. [8]

Housing for the poor

AVAG organizes projects to repair houses of those extremely impoverished families identified by SHGs who can not afford repairs on their own. AVAG finances 75% of the project while the families are responsible for the repairs.

Capacity building

This program aims at expanding the vision and ability of each individual and provides the tools needed to participate in societal development.

Seminars

AVAG organizes a day-long seminar for SHG members, aims at increasing awareness of topics such as government schemes, gender and caste issues, water, sanitation, waste management and global warming.

Meetings

One type of meeting AVAG has the strengthening meetings . They support new SHGs as well as clubs that need assistance with their activities. These meetings also help existing SHGs progress, and resolve the problems of the importance of unity and cooperation. Another type of meeting is cluster meetings , which are held with representatives of SHGs to discuss common issues in the women’s area and to give clarity to the guidelines of the clubs, to create a platform for different clubs to interact, share ideas and foster solidarity.

Exposure and field trips

These trips are meant for the members of the world, and they are meant to be used in new techniques such as vermicomposting or gardening.

Trainings

One department getting trained are the federation members . They also participate in leadership, caste, domestic violence, environmental awareness and gender, and sometimes also psychosocial aspects. The elected animator and two representatives of SHG also receive training in the form of exposure to social issues and educational programs to increase leadership capabilities.

Economic development

Through revolving funds and a savings program, providing income to flexible, needs based, ethical financial institutions, income generation is created.

Financial inclusion program

Within the AVAG network, SHG members can take loans from several places, most importantly from the monthly savings of members of AVAG’s SHGs. Externally, SHGs are helped to get loans from the banks, revolving funds of the Federation and AVAG.

AVAG Micro Finance Project

Based on a grant from the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation ( BMZ ), a revolving fund was created to meet the demand for micro-credits for the purposes of businesses, agriculture, education, housing, social functions, as well as to pay back the very high interest loans from the moneylenders. The higher objective was to fight poverty by self-help groups.

Social enterprise initiatives and livelihood training programs

AVAG offers a large number of trainings, and creates self-employment opportunities for women’s SHGs. Together with the Sustainable Enterprise Development in the Auroville Bioregion (SEDAB) project, [9] which is part of a wider rural development vision for the bioregion, the goal is to provide sustainable livelihood options for women in and around Auroville. Several different products are being produced and sold as part of the social enterprise initiative, such as clothes and accessories, and accessories (like Avag’s own brand Aval ), herbal beauty products, spirulina capsules (under the brand Surya [10]and hammocks with support and teaching from outside AVAG.

Marketing initiatives

SHGs products are now sold in being white Several shops around Auroville and Pondicherry , as well as in women self-help group exhibitions in Pondicherry and Chennai , Organized by the Tamil Nadu Government.

Psychosocial support

This program aims to protect and support the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health of all individuals.

Counseling and mediation

AVAG offers counseling services to individuals who have difficulty coping with some of their lives. In addition to counseling, AVAG helps connect people with other services.

De-addiction services

Some SHG members are trained to spread awareness of the disease and treatment options and to identify them for rehabilitation services.

Funding

AVAG has varying supporters, also relying on individual donors. The BMZ gives AVAG a significant supporting sum each year under the Verein zur Förderung der Auroville-Region (VFAVR), affiliated with AVI Germany. They also supported the issue of the AVVAI scheme. Other funding partners are the Village Outreach Society of Canada and the United Kingdom, who have supported Eco Women, AVAG’s exchange programs and the solar lantern project of the EcoLife store. World Dignity, Inc. (WDI), [11] an organization working internationally to build resilience, resilience, culture and wisdom of all people, created the AVAG / WDI Education Revolving Fundto help financially poor club members for their children’s education with loans or grants with AVAG. [12] Motherson Sumi Systems Limited has made a significant contribution to improving social security (CSR) program. [13]

History

[14] In 1983 , AVAG was founded by Bhavana Dee Decew “to act as a bridge between [Auroville] and immediate neighbors.” [15] At that time, Auroville was born in the villages surrounding Auroville. Gradually, professional social workers joined and turned into an official developmental project. With OXFAM India ‘s help starting 1991 , AVAG expanded its scope of operations and deputy activities and field staff could be recruited and trained. TheCommonwealth Human Ecology Council (CHEC) of the Overseas Development Agency (ODA) -UK, later called the Department for International Development(DfID), also supported AVAG so that its work expanded further. Thanks to the DfID’s funding, the Women’s Federation and men’s groups could also be established in 1999 . When the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami hit Tamil Nadu, AVAG experienced a major financial and labor crisis. SHGs and the leaders of the villages. SHGs and the leaders of the villages. ACDC also supported AVAG’s work in the tsunami hit areas. ACDC continued to support AVAG until 2009 . In 2010 , the social enterprise initiative got started with the assistance of theSustainable Enterprise Development in the Auroville Bioregion (SEDAB), scheduled to run until the middle of 2016 . The BMZ project set up a revolving fund with the German government’s support, mainly for enabling the distribution of grants for better education. Currently , AVAG is working on setting up education for girls and boys and marketing its products more. Also, flood relief after the hundred-year 2015 South Indian Floods [16] in the Villupuram District is still going on. [17]

Affiliations

AVAG is working closely with people in Auroville, for certain events such as flood relief and other entrepreneurial projects inside of Auroville. Some of AVAG’s women’s stitch disposable cloth pads for EcoFemme , [18] They have also recently started to work with the colors of the Colors of Nature. [19] One different project which AVAG is working together with Auroville on the Paalam Project, Paalam meaning bridge in Tamil, which is a bioregional and Auroville youth leadership program and “aims to provide training in sustainable village development through a program that would include exposure to Auroville and its ideals and village model development throughout Tamil Nadu.” [20] Once a year, a student from the American University of Paris (AUP) join AVAG For a Few weeks to assist it in the sector communications. [21] AVAG is associated with the National Australia Bank , the Indian Bank and the ICICI Bank for the SHG loans and microfinancing. They send a mobile bank to AVAG twice a week and issue the loans to the SHG women. The German BMZSupporting one is gold two young volontaires coming to AVAG via Auroville International (AVI) Deutschland eV , a non-profit organization qui est Amongst other things a volunteer sending agency via weltwärts contents, each year for a year’s duration. [22]

See also

  • Auroville
  • Village design statement

References

  1. Jump up^ “About AVAG” . AVAG.
  2. Jump up^ “AVAG’s goals” . AVAG.
  3. Jump up^ “AVAG’s tools” . AVAG.
  4. Jump up^ “Annual Report 2011-2012” . AVAG.
  5. Jump up^ “information on the Auroville Village Action Trust” . auroville.org.
  6. Jump up^ “Annual Report 2011-2012” . AVAG.
  7. Jump up^ “Women’s Empowerment at Auroville Village Action Group” . Lesley Branagan.
  8. Jump up^ “EcoLife Stores” . Aneri Patel.
  9. Jump up^ “Sustainable Enterprise Development in the Auroville Bioregion blog” . SEDAB.
  10. Jump up^ “SEDAB Surya production” . SEDAB.
  11. Jump up^ “WDI webpage” . World Dignity, Inc.
  12. Jump up^ Auroville Village Action Group (2016). Annual Report 2014-2015 .
  13. Jump up^ “Article on Promoting Poor Girl’s Education In The Villages” . Auroville Today.
  14. Jump up^ Auroville Village Action Group (2016). Annual Report 2014-2015 .
  15. Jump up^ “Annual Report 2011-2012” . AVAG.
  16. Jump up^ “Chennai Floods” . Times of India.
  17. Jump up^ “Newsletter January 2016, Flood Reliefs article” . AVAG.
  18. Jump up^ “EcoFemme stitched by AVAG” . EcoFemme.
  19. Jump up^ “The Colors of Nature Information” . EcoFemme.
  20. Jump up^ “Article on the ‘Paalam’ project” . Auroville Today.
  21. Jump up^ “AUP’s working partners in Auroville” . TO P.
  22. Jump up^ “AVI-D volunteer service” . AVI-D.

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