Thursday, July 23, 2009

Information on 1298 Women's Helpline

    1298 Women's Helpline

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) document states that violence against women causes more death and disabilities in 15-44 age groups than cancer, malaria and traffic accidents. In India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, every hour 18 women face violence harassment and sexual abuse. Mumbai has the highest percentage of victims.

In response to the grave situation of violence against women in the city of Mumbai, the women's Helpline 1298, an initiative by the Sheriff of Mumbai, to help women who are facing violence or sexual harassment, was launched on January 28,2008 with the assistance of leading women's NGO's & the Dial 1298 for Ambulance service.

On calling 1298, which is also an Ambulance Access number from any mobile or land line, women in distress are directed to relevant NGO's who counsel and provide assistance. For any case which requires urgent action, the calls are diverted to the police Helpline 103. All calls received by the 1298 Women's helpline are followed up after seven days to appraise the help received and the current situation of the case.

The 1298 Women's helpline has conducted various activities to promote and sustain the helpline.

Monthly review meetings are held with the various NGOs that work with the 1298 Women's Helpline to assess & evaluate the various cases referred to the NGOs.

Regular training sessions on various issues are also conducted for the NGOs to keep them enthused and motivated. A training programme on 'Barefoot Counselling" was conducted to further strengthened the network of linked referral organisations making 1298 a sustainable initiative. This was followed by a training workshop on legal aspect of women's Issues.

On 9th September 2008 to make the information about the NGOs freely available to Women in Mumbai, The Sheriff of Mumbai along with Dial 1298 for Ambulance, Akshara and Times Foundation brought out the 1298 Women's Resource Directory which was launched by Sachin Tendulkar.

The NGOs are listed under nine categories based on their location and the primary service they provide. These categories are: support for women in distress, counselling services, short stay homes/women hostels, legal support groups, health support groups, support groups for de-addiction, information and advocacy groups, support for senior citizens and helpline for children. The directory, which will be available in English and Marathi and over 10,000 copies were distributed free of cost.

1298 Women's Helpline Call Details

MonthNumber of Calls

Listing of NGOs / Government Agencies in Mumbai that work with the 1298 Women's Helpline

Support for Women in DistressHealth Support Groups
103 Police HelplineAashraya
1298 Women's HelplineAct Chiraag
Apne Aap Women's CollectiveAdhar
Awaze-e- Niswan- RehnumaAnand Rehabilitation Centre
Bhartiya Stree ShaktiCenter for Development Initiatives
Bhartiya Stree ShaktiIndian Council for Mental Health
Dayasadan Community CenterKripa Counselling & Rehabilitation Centre
Family CourtMona Remedial Education Centre
K.B. Bhabha HospitaNetwork in Thane by People Living with HIV and AIDS
Maharashtra Mahila ParishadPassages
Mahila Dakshata SamitiWomen's Cancer Initiative
Mankhurd Women's Cell
Nagpada Women's CellSupport Groups for De-addiction
Navjeevan Centre
SakhyaAlcoholics Anonymous
Sneha Kripa Counseling & Rehabilitation Centre
Special Cell for Women and Children Mukti Sadan
Stree Mukti Sangatana
Stree Shakti KendraInformation and Advocacy Groups
Teen ChallengeAkshara
Women's CentreBusiness And Professional Women's Association
Women's CommissionForum Against Oppression of Women
Women's Grievances Redressal Cell ( Pragati Kendra)Point Of View
Research Centre for Women's studies -SNDT
Counseling ServicesVacha Trust
Women's India Trust
Bapu Trust "Seher"
Counselling and Suicide Prevention Centre ( CAPS)Support for Senior Citizens
Humsafer103 Police Helpline
Institute for Psychological Health1090 Elderline
Labia Dignity Foundation
MaitriFamily Welfare Agency
Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA)Harmony
PrafultaHelp Age
Psychoanalytic Therapy & Research CentreShree Manav Seva Sangh
Sambhavana Society
Shree Manav Seva SanghHelpline for Children
Women Graduate Union
YWCA (Aasara)103 Police Helpline
1098 Childline
Short Stay Homes / Women's Hostels
Legal Support Groups
All India Women's Conference
Asha SadanFamily Court
Bapnu GharIndian Centre for Human Rights & Law
SukhshantiLawyers Collective
Nari Adalat
Protect Indian Family Foundation

Update on Momina

This just in from Aparna:

Status Update on Momina

Things at Momina's end have still not changed. She still requires a lot of support. Two of her kids are attending school regularly. The third one is at home with her. She should be delivering the fourth baby soon. The baby is expected anytime now. Luckily the doctor treating her is not charging her any money, she has also agreed to do the delivery free of cost for her. She is finding it increasingly difficult to travel from her house to the hospital because of the rains. Also she doesn't keep too well these days. Her sister is around to take care of her and the kids which is a huge help.

The only help coming to her is now from our end. Looks like we will have to continue helping her for at least another 6-7 months. Before we can even expect her to get on her feet.

Edited to add: If anyone would like to help Momina Khatoon, please do write in at

Whom have you helped today?

Find purpose. The means will follow.
Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A green message.

This came in from Priyanka, and is a simple thing to do for our concrete jungle:

A friend has started a 'Lakshmi taru' (paradise tree)  tree plantation drive in Mumbai. If anyone would be interested in planting trees in the building, complex or your area you could get in touch with Ticky Nimbalkar. His contact number is 09892465173 or mail him at <> .

As the UN grapples with the question of <;cat=&amp;n_date=20070415#> global warming and Maharashtra battles with power conservation, a quiet revolution is simmering in rural areas of the country.
The answer to the greenhouse gas emissions and climate change has already started taking roots in 'Simarouba Glacua', christened as 'Lakshmi Taru' , and is also known as paradise tree.
'Lakshmi Taru', an evergreen tropical tree bearing oilseeds, can meet edible, industrial and bio-fuel needs of the world as a renewable source. Because of its high productivity levels, it can save <;cat=&amp;n_date=20070415#> India's crores of foreign exchange money and also earn revenue via exports, experts with Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SSIAST), Bangalore, said.
''The 'Lakshmi' Taru tree reclaims wastelands, arrests soil erosion, and increases ground water levels and provides sturdy, insect-resistant timber. It utilizes solar energy and converts it into bio-energy. It efficiently uses greenhouse gases for its own growth and sustenance

The tree bears seeds that provide bio-diesel, particle-boards, fuel and oilcakes that are good as organic manure, pulp and leaf litter that serve as vermicompost and fruits that provide beverage and jams.
The tree can be suitably used by a nation that spends a huge chunk of its revenue on importing edible and petroleum oils.
The tree is also a medical boon for it relieves pain, fever, dysentery, stops bleeding, fights malaria, improves haemoglobin and checks blood sugar.

Brought from the tropical forests of Central America, 'Lakshmi Taru' tree has now brought about a significant change in Maharashtra as well.

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nandini goes to school!!

This post comes in from Priyanka, who has been tirelessly working on the pavement schools singlehandedly:

Nandini is the girl with the red hairband in the left hand corner of this photograph.
Always happy, always bright and smiling. Always unfailingly present at the pavement school.
A long overdue post..
This story to uplift our Monday morning blues:

Nandini is an eight year old who lives right outside Vibgyor High in a shanty made out of plastic.Until recently, she had no access to a formal school.The only ray of hope in terms of education for her was our street school that she used to religiously attend Monday to Saturday between 8 am to 10 am. After which she used to spend her entire day being a part time rag picker and helping her mother with the household work.

The teacher of our street school was very impressed with Nandini's intelligence and her burning desire to study. She met her parents several times to push them to get her to enrol in a formal school but they promptly ignored it as they felt that it would end up harming their monthly income and also who would help the mother around the house?

But in the month of May our school teacher finally managed to convince them and helped her fill up the forms for school and ensured that she manages to secure admission in the muncipal school.

Though she has missed out on a year she has started going to Grade I from June onward. Nandini, though, has stopped coming to our street school regularly as now she has to help her mother before she leaves for school.But what fills our heart with hope and pride is that our school has managed to ensure that an 8 year old's life is not wasted by being a ragpicker all her life!

India Helps is dedicated to the cause of ensuring that Nandini manages to study as much as her heart desires.

Aila Relief trip to the Sunderbans on July 4-5, 2009.10 Jul 2009

This is the relief effort Sunayana (on behalf of India Helps in Kolkata) has been coordinating with:

Select photographs taken during a relief trip to Kalitala vilage, Hingalgunj block, in the Sunderbans, India. We are some teachers, research scholars, and students from Jadavpur University who have made small efforts to distribute relief first-hand in the Sunderbans after the Aila cyclone of May 2009. And we seriously resent using any of these pictures for commercial and profit-making purposes. If you desire to use any, please contact Samantak Das (

There is a still lot more help that is needed. If you would like to contribute to this effort, do mail in to

Friday, July 10, 2009

Update on Shabnam (Cheetah Camp Victim)

This came in from Nomad:

Hi All,

Shabnam is back from her village and here's the status on things:
The division of ancestral property did not happen as the grandfather said that he will not give anything till he's alive. Shabnam talked to him and asked him to let her have her dad's share considering they don't even have means to survival right now. Her grandfather offered that he will take care of the family if they move to his village but won't give any financial help. Given that the village has no means for the girls to be educated OR any avenue for Shabnam to find a job, she told him that they can't do that as there's no way forward from this option. The good thing that came out of her trip is that whenever the division does happen, she will get her father's share.
She again asked me about a job for her and I've told her I'm trying. I have a lead and I'm hoping it'll work out, I should know about this by next week. Will request you guys to keep looking as well.

Warning for Mumbaikairs

Dear Friends,

Pre-warning helps one to be prepared for emergencies.
Emergency Preparedness helps in preventing personal disasters.
Be prepared to take care of your family, especially the children.
Kindly dissipate the Flood Warning given below to as many Mumbaites, New Mumbaites and Thaneites as possible

Floods - 2009: Mumbai
Floods in Mumbai are attributable to simultaneous occurrence of rainfall and high tides. If the rainfall is in excess of 200 mm in a day (24 hrs) the floods can occur anytime irrespective of the tides. However, if there is moderate rainfall but the tides are in excess of 4.50 meters at the same time, the city of Mumbai is sure to get flooded.

Accordingly, heavy floods are anticipated on the following days in Mumbai, if there is excessive rainfall at the time of high tides, since the tides are extremely high on these days:
Date Day Time Height of Tide (Meters)
24 June 2009 Wednesday 1:41 4.95
25 June 2009 Thursday 2:24 PM 4.97
23 July 2009 Thursday 1:23 PM 5.01
24 July 2009 Friday 2:03 PM 5.05
25 July 2009 Saturday 2:43 PM 4.94

It is heard that BMC has already planned to keep the schools closed on 24 July 2009 since the tide level is record high of last 100 years on this day.

Mumbaites are, therefore, requested to cooperate with the administration by restricting their movements and certainly not to take their vehicles out on the roads these days.

There are speculations about very high waves on 22 July 2009 due to solar eclipse. Public should, therefore, keep away from the beaches that day.

Also, please advise your friends and relatives outside Mumbai not to plan a trip to Mumbai on these days.

Mumbaites are, therefore, requested to cooperate with the administration by restricting their movements and certainly not to take their vehicles out on the roads these days.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sunderbans Relief

This is what India Helps has contributed to. Thank you Sunayana for coordinating this:

Report on distribution of first lot of textbooks at Bijoynagar Adarsha Vidyamandir on 29 June, 2009

As stated in my last report, the first installment of money for purchase of books for the Aila-affected students of the Bijoynagar Adarsha Vidyamandir (BAV) high school was handed over to Mr. Sukumar Paira, Headmaster of the BAV, on 20 June 2009, in Kolkata. We had collected a little over one lakh rupees and based on this, and the promises made for more contributions by friends, textbooks worth Rs. 1.6 lakhs were ordered with the school's books supplier. (I may mention here that the supplier, Mr. Pradip Kumar Pradhan, himself a former student of the BAV, is not charging any commission for the books he is supplying; moreover, he is paying for the cost of transporting the books to the BAV from Kolkata from his own pocket. He has also donated some blackboards to the school. All this means that every rupee raised is being used to buy books at the highest possible discount.)

The formal distribution of the books was scheduled for Monday, 29 June 2009.Mr. Mudar Patherya, a friend who has been running relief supplies to the Sunderbans since Aila struck, contacted the Linc Pen and Plastics company whose Managing Director, Mr. Dipak Jalan, kindly donated four pencils, one pen, one eraser, one sharpener and one ruler for every student of the BAV.

On 29 May 2009 the following individuals went to the BAV to witness at first hand the distribution of the textbooks and stationery to the students of the school. Professor Supriya Chaudhuri (of the department of English, JU), Ms. Angana Chatterjee (teacher of philosophy at Presidency College), Dr. Bipasha Biswas (scholar and researcher in public health care, who has worked in the Sunderbans before), Deeptanil Ray (PhD scholar, JUDE, who had gone with us on our second relief trip to the Sunderbans), Sujit, Samantak and Sharadindu Khusro Das (a.k.a. Sasthi, student of Patha Bhavan school, Kolkata, and Samantak's son).

Supriyadi and Angana boarded the 5:45 am Canning Local at Sealdah, Samantak and Sasthi joined them at Ballygunge and Bipasha, Sujit and Deeptanil boarded the train at Jadavpur, carrying with them the materials supplied by Linc (which had been stored at Sujit's house at Jadavpur). Rafat came to Jadavpur Station to help load the pens, etc on the train.

We got off at Canning at about 7:30 am and had breakfast. Sujit and Deeptanil contacted two porters who helped us to get the pencils, pens, etc on the boat and to unload them at Dock Ghat after crossing the Matla river. We were lucky to get an auto-rickshaw who agreed to take us all the way to Gadkhali (thus saving us the trouble of changing autos at Sonakhali) for a small extra payment. The day was cloudy and there was quite heavy rain on our way to Gadkhali.

At Gadkhali, where we reached at about 9:30 am, we realised that the cartons in which the pens and pencils and so on had been packed had basically melted (they had been loaded on to the roof of the auto). Fortunately, we had carried extra bags with us and we managed to transfer the pens etc to these and carry them to Kalida's boat. Once again, as on our last trip, four young men (all former students of the BAV) had come along to help us and give us company.

We reached the BAV a little after 11:00 am, shortly after the first period had commenced. Mr. Sukumar Paira was there at the school's jetty, along with some students, to receive us. The short
distance from the jetty to the school had been rendered extremely muddy by the rain and we barely managed to keep our footing as we slipped and slid to the school.

The textbooks for the students had been kept in neat bundles, class-wise, for us to see and we unloaded the pens, etc that we had carried with us. We handed over cheques and cash worth Rs. 51,000/- (this being the amount that we had collected since 20 June 2009 from friends and well-wishers of the school), to Mr. Paira. As usual, he was effusive in his expressions of gratitude at the "generosity", as he put it, of the donors. (You will note that with this Rs. 51,000/-and the Rs. 1.8 lakhs we had collected and given to Mr. Paira earlier, the cost of the books ordered in this first installment has been – almost – covered.)

We were taken to meet the teachers and staff of the school and, despite our requests that there be no formal ceremony, we all had a leaf of the sundari tree pinned to our chests as a kind of welcome to the school. A simple yet deeply moving moment. We were impressed at how much the school had been cleaned and made ready for classes in such a short period of time and at the dedication of the staff and teachers who have made this possible.

The textbooks were then dispatched to the classes and distribution started as we wandered about looking in to see how things were proceeding. The pens and pencils etc donated by Linc were arranged on the school's stage, and some students from Class V (for whom no textbooks could be bought) came and received their sets (4 pencils, 1 pen, 1 eraser, 1 sharpener, 1 ruler each) from us. Once this had been done, the rest of the pens, etc were distributed in the classrooms.

One of the most moving and heartening things we heard was that when Aila struck, the first things that many students had tried (often successfully) to save had been their school books and uniforms. Others have managed to get new uniforms after Aila, despite the obvious difficulty (which is not just economic) of doing so. Living proof, if ever proof was needed, of the hunger for education among the most marginal and neglected sections of our society. (Some of you may recall that I had stated very definitely, in my second report, that all the students of BAV had lost all their school books. I had not counted on how much their school means for these young people and this is one occasion when I am delighted to have been proved wrong!)

What this also means is that our initial estimate of the cost of purchase of textbooks goes down by a bit, since about 10-15% of the students have succeeded in saving some of their books. On a less happy note, another 5% or so of the students have already indicated that they cannot continue with their studies. They will obviously not need either textbooks or exercise-books any more. We had estimated Rs. 3.6 lakhs for purchase of textbooks, that figure is now closer to Rs. 3 lakhs.

In each classroom, there was a list of students and the textbooks each student required. Teachers called out the students' names and they came forward to receive their books – most needed the full set of texts, some had managed to save a few texts and a small number had successfully saved all their books – and signed next to their names on the roster prepared for this purpose. I was struck by the quiet efficiency and discipline with which this was done. We
divided up into groups of two/three, to observe the proceedings without causing too much disruption, and took a few pictures to bring back with us. (Some of these are given at the end of this report.)

The distribution was completed by about 2:00 pm and we left at 3:00 pm, after holding discussions with Mr. Paira about what other help the school needed to get back to its normal functioning and how the rest of the money could be raised.

As we were about to leave, a student of Class VIII, Asgar Ali Mollah, came and showed us some of the paintings he has done, including a striking one of Cyclone Aila. Asgar comes from an
extremely poor family (his father is a petty fisherman and his mother works as a domestic help) and has suffered terribly in the aftermath of Aila, but the colour, freshness and skill of his paintings left us deeply impressed. With some guidance, Asgar may yet turn out to be an artist of some consequence in the future. (We were not surprised to learn that Mr. Paira and some of his colleagues pay from their pockets for the paints and crayons and so on that Asgar needs for his work.)

We took Kalida's boat back to Gadkhali, had a (very late) lunch and then took an auto to Sonakhali, changed autos for the trip to Dock Ghat, crossed the Matla and took the 6:40 pm local to Sealdah. Sujit, Deeptanil and Bipasha got off at Jadavpur, Sasthi and I at Ballygunge and Supriyadi and Angana went on to Sealdah, and thence to their homes in Salt Lake.

Happy news

Mudar had told me, when we had been talking of this trip, that he might be able to cover the cost of the rest of the textbooks and he was trying to get schools to donate exercise books for the BAV.

Today, 1 July 2009, Mr. Sukumar Paira and Mr. Pradip Kumar Pradhan (BAV's books supplier) came to Kolkata and we went along to Mudar's office, near Menoka Cinema. After taking into account the textbooks already bought, the books saved by students, and the money raised by us after the 29th, the cost of purchasing the rest of the texts comes to about Rs. 1.3 lakhs. Shalini, Mudar's wife, told us that they would pay for the purchase of these books. Mr. Pradhan has stayed on in Kolkata to procure the books, a process which should be completed by the beginning of next week. Shalini and Mudar have also got donations of some 1,250 exercise-books and these will be sent to College Street on 2 July and transported to the BAV along with the textbooks. These textbooks and exercise-books will be distributed on Wednesday, 8 July 2009 at the BAV. Do let me know if you want to come along to see the distribution.

So, thanks to all of you and your generous response to our appeals, all the students of the Bijoynagar Adarsha Vidyamandir will have textbooks and (some) exercise-books for this academic year.

What next?

We have succeeded in getting textbooks for all students of the BAV. Thanks to Mudar and Shalini's efforts and the money promised by friends which will come to us in the next few days and weeks, we ought to be able to get exercise-books for all of them as well.

But much still needs to be done.

In the many discussions and deliberations we have had with Sukumar-babu, and his colleagues, he has indicated some of the needs of the school (not all them caused due to Aila). Among these needs are tables and benches for some of the classrooms (which have never had tables/benches before), repairs to the damaged buildings, blackboards, and so forth.

I should be able to prepare a comprehensive list in some days' time and then I will get back to you.

Thanking you once again for your kindness of heart and generosity of spirit.


P.S. In my last report, I had included a list of donors' names. Let me repeat that this list includes only the names of those who have contributed to the collection for buying books for the students of BAV. Others who contributed very generously to our first two efforts at providing relief in the form of foodstuffs, tarpaulins, medicines and so on, were not included in that list. If I have offended anyone by doing this, my sincerest apologies, for no offence was intended.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

ICE: In Case of Emergency

Thanks Greishma for this forward. It is a most sensible and simple concept:

Apparently this is a standard procedure all paramedics follow at the scene of an accident when they come across your cell phone.

ICE - 'In Case of Emergency'

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) Campaign

The concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell(mobile) phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' ( In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as 'ICE.'

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference!

Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today!

Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

Friday, July 3, 2009

Help Abhishek

This came in from Serendipity:

Abhishek is a young 30 year old man, who was working as a brand manager in Britannia Industries until recently. An innocuous fever led to the discovery of cancer within his body - and he has been diagnosed with Bi-phenothypic Acute Leukimia (BAL) a type of blood cancer. He is to undergo matched unrelated donor transplant - the cost for which is USD 20,000 or roughly Rs 1 crore.

He has undergone three sessions of chemotherapy till now, and donors are being sourced by doctors from the Apollo hospital (Chennai) and CMC (Christian Medical college, Vellore).

Currently Rs 55 lakhs needs to be updated for the transplant. The family does not need any financial support other than raising this mammoth amount for medical bills.

I have spoken to his brother, Abhijit, and he has said he will keep in touch with me regarding progress. This case is curable, and the operation can save his life. Visit the link for more details and pictures -

In case anyone wants to help out, please mail us at or or contact Abhisheks family directly through contact details available on the site.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dont forget 26/11

Watch this: