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‘Around the World with PDA’ to highlight lifesaving work in India

Next installment of new webinar series is Aug. 11

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Sheku Sillah is Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s Regional Project Manager for Asia and Africa.

LOUISVILLE — A webinar series that provides insight into the vital work of international partners of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance returns at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) Aug. 11, with a spotlight on India.

The latest installment of “Around the World with PDA,” will introduce viewers to the Society for National Integration through Rural Development (SNIRD). The longtime PDA partner works alongside vulnerable populations in the South Asian country, which has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and natural disasters in recent years.

SNIRD’s “approach is not just to come and say, ‘OK, you are in need and this is what we are providing,’” said Sheku Sillah, PDA’s Regional Project Manager for Asia and Africa.

“Through the capacity-building programs, we develop something called rural participatory appraisal,” which means that SNIRD allows the people “to choose their own priorities,” Sillah said. “When you do that, the program becomes very sustainable, so even at the end of the funding, the community takes ownership.”

Disaster risk reduction training in India conducted by the Society for National Integration through Rural Development (SNIRD), a longtime partner of PDA. (Photo courtesy of SNIRD)

SNIRD’s work often involves vulnerable coastal people who are considered by society to be untouchables or outcasts, Sillah said.

“They more or less are used by many other Indians of higher class as tools,” he said. “So they are not even allowed to come to the towns,” but SNIRD has been working “to get them registered and recognized by the government.”

On “Around the World with PDA,” Sillah will be joined by SNIRD’s Executive Secretary, Godfrey G.P. Jawahar. They will discuss the overall work of SNIRD and how grant funding from PDA is being used to provide lifesaving assistance to the people of India.

With the help of PDA, SNIRD provides food, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and instruction on COVID-19 prevention. It also takes various steps to supplement people’s livelihoods such as providing sewing machines as well as seeds and tools for backyard gardening.

The sewing machines “have been very, very helpful during this COVID because many of these communities cannot afford even the face masks,” Sillah said. But with the machines, trained individuals are “providing face masks at affordable costs in their communities.”

To learn more about SNIRD and PDA’s work, register for the webinar here, or you can watch the livestream on PDA’s Facebook page.

PDA is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. It is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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