Manju and Lawrence are married with one child and live in Dehra Dun, India. Manju was inspired by lady called Agnes Kunze mostly known as MATAJI who volunteered her whole life to improve the lives of the poorest people living in the India. Manju started to work for slum dwellers and street children at Madrasi Colony which had originally been established by people moving from Chennai (formerly Madras) in the late 1940’s during the period of India’s Independence. In 2002, she later established the Agnes Kunze Society with her childhood pen-friend, Caroline.
Lawrence worked in the merchant navy for many years but has recently joined Manju in running the work. Lawrence is a great networker and planner and together with Manju they form a formidable team! Lawrence is particularly involved with the HIV responses in Dehra Dun where people living with HIV are still subject to much stigma and discrimination.
India is the most densely populated country in the world. Whilst there has been much progress economically in recent years, millions of Indians still live in abject poverty. Due to the economic development many of the rural poor have migrated to the city in search of work. Many of these internal migrants, together with local population, live in massive slums often on land that does not belong to them. As a result there are very few services offered these communities and conditions are very bad. Poor health issues affect most the residents and there is very little formal schooling for the majority of the children who often have to work to make ends meet. Many of the people who live in the colony scrape a living as rag pickers, bringing refuse to the area and picking through it for any materials which may have any value at all. Whether involved in this activity or in others the working adults are engaged outside the area of the colony and children are left unattended or small children left in the charge of older ones. There is no education provision within the area of the colony. NGOs are often the only organisations providing services and informal schooling known as Balwadi’s.
Agnes Kunze Society ‘Hope Project’ started its work with street or “slum” children seven years ago by providing education and vocational training. A school has been opened to which 200 children come for the morning session and 350 for the afternoon providing primary education. Young people and adults attend the vocational training centre to learn to sew and design clothes. Since its inception the Hope Project has also branched into the broad field of health undertaking work to improve the environment in the colony by building proper drains and latrines and providing some basic building materials to enable more robust shelters to be constructed.
The Hope Project also undertakes health promotion:
- Monthly once a time free medical camp.
- Polio Vaccination Awareness
Individual counselling about health problems
Proper care for delivery women and child, provide medicine & nutrition food.
• HIV/AIDS Awareness and care for STD patient
• When delivery women suffering from Anaemia, provide blood.
• Every day provide basic health services and if found serious patient, immediately take to Hospital and care for patient.
• Provide Medicine Iron Tab, Calcium, B-capsule and other vitamins Tab and Capsule.
• Counselling about Drug & Alcoholic people and proper care for Addict people.
• Immunization , ANC Check up etc.
• TB Check-up regularly and also encourage people for HIV Testing and, more specifically, is working with residents to identify the symptoms of TB, help people to obtain a diagnosis and provide DOTS support for patients on treatment. AKS ‘Hope Project’ is already participating in Awareness, Encouraging people for testing TB & HIV and if found TB positive then act like a DOTS provider. Till 31 July -2008, AKS ‘Hope Project’ is providing DOTS to 153 patients, which is on record.