Social Welfare Program
“Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility, and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.”
International Federation of Social Workers, 2014
Social work forms an important part in our organization because it addresses the injustices that exist in this regional context. We respond to substantial crises and emergencies as well as everyday personal and social problems from a human rights centered perspective.
State social assistance is nonexistent for the poor. This means individuals living in poverty are often deprived of basic human needs such as medical care and food. SISP assists these families living far below the poverty line, some of whom are supporting everely disabled children, chronically ill adults, the elderly, and single mothers.
Families in the community apply for help from our centre. A social worker first visits the applicant and makes a social and financial report to determine if the family is "BPL" or "Below Poverty Line". During the two social welfare meetings per week with our social workers, the team decides then if the applicant is eligible for aid. If selected, monthly a social worker will visit the family to guide and support them. The applying family can come to the centre for their monthly care.
During home visits our social workers collect all necessary information to write an overall report about the needs in the lives of these families. With this information our social workers can intervene in the future with the final goal of uplifting these families above the poverty line. The help SISP provides is based on these individual reports. We offer our beneficiaries medical care, old age care, life support, educational care, emergency care and rent allowance.
Each year we receive around 100 new applications. Unfortunately we have to reject a number because they are just outside our criteria or live outside the region demarcated by SISP. A few dozen cases cease because of death or because someone in the family has found work and the family's income have risen. We do our best to support the new and existing cases.
Women's Micro-Credit Groups
SISP has a long tradition of offering micro-credit loans and coordinates many self-help micro-credit groups in the municipalities around Vizhinjam. Women receive startup funds from SISP to launch a business. However, they first must demonstrate that they are capable of the enterprise by saving regularly for a year. As well as establishing trades such as making clothes, running grocery stores, drying fish, etc, some buy goods wholesale and then sell them in the village for a small profit. Women gather weekly to collect their savings and deposit them in the group’s bank account. The members are very cooperative, they earn extra income and the groups are developing. From their savings the group members can take low interest loans for e.g. house maintenance, school expenses.
The women learn to save and to operate a current account. Their savings can be drawn in times of need. In traditional Indian society, little attention was given to the empowerment of women (consider that on average 50% of Indian women are illiterate). Alcoholism, prostitution, and AIDS are serious problems and the Indian government does not take their growth seriously. Our projects boost the self-esteem of the women we help so that they may face the world positively with more strength and self-confidence.
Additional projects include:
Literacy Training: Programming taught in the villages themselves (in Muslim areas women are not allowed to travel outside their communities). Each class has around a dozen members and is two or three afternoons a week, held in the home of one of the participating women. They learn to read the destination boards of buses and trains, newspaper articles, how to complete forms, etc.
Social Awareness Projects: SISP organizes courses on hygiene, education of children, contagious diseases, etc. Social awareness trainings and help improve the quality of life in the villages SISP collaborates with.