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Bringing light to the people of India

‘Around the World with PDA’ showcases NGO’s work

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

“Around the World with PDA” is a new webinar series by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. So far, episodes have focused on partners in Honduras and India.

LOUISVILLE — A nongovernment organization that has been instrumental in helping people in India to overcome natural and human-caused disasters was featured this week in a webinar by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

The Society for National Integration through Rural Development (SNIRD) highlighted its work during the latest installment of “Around the World with PDA,” a new series that lets the public hear directly from PDA partners.

SNIRD, a resource and development organization, works alongside vulnerable populations in three main areas of India — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — helping the people to address various needs, such as disaster preparedness and recovery, health education and intervention, food assistance and capacity building.

“The fact that they target the most downtrodden is something admirable because unlike many donors, they go to the remote ends of disasters where the victims have no source of support,” Sheku Sillah, PDA’s Regional Project Manager for Asia and Africa, said during the webinar. “They’ve been doing their best.”

Godfrey G.P. Jawahar (far right), Executive Secretary of the Society for National Integration Through Rurual Development in India (SNIRD), discussed his organization’s resource and development work during a webinar held by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance this week. Some PDA staffers and leaders are shown from left to right (top) Cameron Stevens and Sheku Sillah and left to right (bottom) the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus and Dayna Oliver. (Screenshot)

PDA has provided support to SNIRD for the last five years, helping the people to cope with the impact of a tsunami, flooding and the pandemic, and saving thousands of lives, said Godfrey G.P. Jawahar, SNIRD’s Executive Secretary.

“We feel proud to be a partner of PDA because this has given us an opportunity to bring light to the lives of a number of people,” Jawahar said.

SNIRD’s work has included raising community awareness about COVID precautions, providing WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), facilitating and promoting mask-making by local women, and being involved in flood and tsunami rehabilitation projects.

The organization also has been active in providing raw and cooked food for the people and helping to make seeds and saplings available for growing projects to help with basic nutrition. In one example, SNIRD distributed more than 980 packs of raw food items, consisting of 15 groceries, to keep people from starving in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Those who benefit from SNIRD’s assistance include women and children, small farmers, coastal communities, persons with disabilities, older people, socially excluded communities, and people impacted by COVID-19.

For some who’ve been treated as outcasts, “one important thing this partner is doing is to advocate for the recognition of these people to be registered as citizens of India in addition to providing them disaster resistant shelters,” Sillah said.

He also praised SNIRD’s approach to working with communities on projects.

“One thing I admire about SNIRD is they don’t just go to the communities and bring projects” without consulting with local people, Sillah said. “They adequately consult with all stakeholders in the communities and at the end of the day, the needs of the communities are prioritized, which I think programmatically leads to sustainability” because community members “see themselves as part and parcel of the project.”

SNIRD is a nongovernment organization that helps some of the most vulnerable people in India with support from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. (Screenshot of a page from the webinar presentation)

But the needs continue to be great in India as the fallout from the pandemic continues to be felt, according to SNIRD.

“We strongly feel that the women (and others) are suffering with psychosocial disorders, which need to be addressed at the individual level,” and the children, who’ve been unable to attend school, need motivational classes and remedial sessions, said Ravi Pradeep, a disaster risk reduction specialist who’s involved with SNIRD’s report writing. “We look forward (to) the continued support from the PDA to go ahead in helping.”

You can view the full webinar on PDA’s website.

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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