Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Indian Institute of Training & Development

Posted by Chris on October 4, 2007

IITD is where I am living. It is an NGO that has been operating since 1985. I am told that it started with two small buildings. Now, there are two large, multi-story buildings with lodging rooms, canteens (cafeteria), and meeting rooms. There is also a smaller building that hosts DCDC, Development Centre for Deprived Children, a non-formal education that is free for poor kids in this area (they come before regular school starts, regular school starts very late here). They learn dance, art, languages, etc… There is a garden from which at least some of the vegetables for meals are taken as well as a pond that is relatively nice to look at (compared to other ponds you see) and also has fish that are caught and cooked. And a few other things… all of this is garnished with coconut trees, tropical-looking patios, and some animals. It’s pretty cool. In IITD literature it is always referred to as “the Eco-friendly Training Complex.”

I will try and simplify their activities into the two categories of training and development. Training is mostly done here at IITD. Community leaders or NGO staff can come and stay at IITD, receive meals, and attend the trainings. The trainings are led by different people, usually contracted teachers but sometimes by the staff here. Their trainings occur on a schedule and most range from a couple days to two weeks. I think that the fees brought in from the lodging and trainings help make IITD more sustainable in that it is not totally reliant on outside donors so that if there were to stop funding, IITD would not immediately shut its doors. I think some trainings are also done at other places and IITD also has two small offices in more remote locations, Kakdwip (south of here, close to Bay of Bengal) and Murshidabad (near Bangladesh border).

In its development activities you could say there are two types, short and long term. The short-term are things like DCDC or a project that found funding to provide toilets for schools in poor, rural areas. These children at school had no latrine and IITD has now helped install sanitary facilities (there are more schools and one toilet is only the equivalent of $220 USD!!).

The long-term projects don’t just go and and build something, but aim at developing people in a holistic way. IITD strives to quickly build up capacity so that the stakeholders themselves can manage their own development. This is done on the Self-Help Group model (SHG). SHGs world-wide are groups usually ranging from 5-25, usually all women, that are brought together for development purposes. Sometimes the scope is narrow, such as just assembling to discuss maternity health, sometimes broad. In the case of IITD, they have started with a health focus. In Kakdwip, through SHGs they teach basic health care. Then the groups are also aided in working with a bank, opening group savings accounts, managing and borrowing from them, and eventually using credit and starting Income Generation Projects (IGP).

Two other activities in Kakdwip: IITD built a tubewell to provide clean drinking water. They brought together 70 families who each donate Rs 3/month for a maintenance fund that they themselves manage. If IITD pulled out, the families should still be able to develop and use the well. Formation of women SHGs followed closely behind this project. A second other activity I’d like to mention is HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. It works with female commercial sex workers and men in occupations who place them in high-risk for contracting HIV. I will it there with discussing IITD projects.

Here are pictures
It is somewhat of a co-operative, as far as the daily life goes. Most of the staff live here, and all but two are men. Some are married and go home once a month/send most of their salaries home. They stay and eat at IITD for free. So I see the same faces all the time. Since the staff stays here, IITD is pretty much always “open”; there is an expectation that in general from 6-7 till 9 pm they are working

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