About Melghat Mitra Activities Media Photos

Melghat Mitra

During the monsoon of 1997, "Melghat" appeared on the front pages of few magazines that narrated horrifying sories of infant deaths and malnutrition problem there. This problem had gripped Melghat region for years together. Reading this, a group of friends decided to visit Melghat to see the reality. What they saw there was so disturbing that then and there they decided to work for eradicating child mortality and malnutrition problem from Melghat. This is how "Meghat Mitra" a project and "Maitri"- a voluntary organization was born.

Melghat region is situated in the north of Amaravati district of Maharashtra in India. It consists of approximately 320 villages and is famous for its Project Tiger. The people living in Melghat are mostly Korku tribals. Maitri works in 28 villages of Melghat with our campus office located in village Chilati...Read more about Melghat region

Our work in Melghat

On returning from Melghat the group that decided to work there, appealed citizens to give their 10 days for Melghat. in 1997, about 250 volunteers responded to this appeal and worked in Melghat  to provide medical help in the villages. These volunteers included everyone from college students, medical students, doctors, businessmen to housewives.   That was the start of Maitri"s work in Melghat. We named the drive - "Dhadak Mohim". Since then every year Maitri runs Dhadak Mohim in different areas of Melghat from July to September...Read more about Dhadak Mohim

Child Mortality and Malnutrition are the problems which can"t be eradicated just by providing medicines and medical facilities. It takes a lot more than that. It requires overall progress of the society on different aspects. A chnage in lifestyle, doing away with the beliefs and priactices those are deep rooted in the community. In order to facilitate these changes MAITRI started working in the following areas

Due to the effective implementation of above programs, Child Mortality Rate in the 28 villages where MAITRI works has dropped down to 65 by 2016. This is a significant reduction from the Child Mortality rate of 126 when MAITRI started working in Melghat in 1997.

This social change is an extremely slow process and requires immense focus and perseverance. It would not have been possible without the strong involvment and participation of local Korku Adivasis.

MAITRI"S every program in Melghat is built around following core principles

These all are small but firm steps toward a sustainable change. The change will not come overnight. It needs patient and persistent efforts with strong conviction and a support from friends like you.

Activities in Melghat

'Science with Fun' Project: 01/03/2018 - 31/03/2019

In January 2018, Maitri conducted 3 day workshop of 'Science with Fun' in Melghat. We concluded the workshop by doing planning for a Yearlong project of 'Teaching Science to Ashramshala children with help of volunteers'.

The main objective of this project is

  • To encourage the local children of Melghat towards education, particularly science and maths. To make these subjects more fun and less fearful for them.
  • To raise the curiosity and interest of children by teaching them through practical experiments and real life examples.

Ashram School at Jarida village of Melghat has been selected for this. The project outline is somewhat like this

  • Every month a batch of volunteers (4-5 in number) will go to Melghat and stay in this Ashramshala.
  • 5th and 6th standard students of this school will participate.
  • The volunteers will teach science topics throgh experiments. 
  • The children will perform the experiments themselves.
  • They will be given some worksheets to srenthen the theory behind these experiments.
  • Thus it will be learning sccience concepts by 'doing first and then understanding'. 
  • The school teachers will also be involved so that they can solve the queries in absence of volunteers. 
  • Yearlong program (2/3 days per month) will assure continuity of learning.

The pilot batch for this project was conducted from 15th-16th March 2018. It was a team led by an active Maitri volunteer Omkar Bhopale (Aeronautical Engineer), along with 3 other volunteers, Shatakshi Gawade (Journalist), Rahul Sakhare (Electronics Engineer) and Apoorva Safai (Biomedical Engineer).

We need young enthusiastic volunteers for this project who can get associated with Melghat tribal children. Every month at least 4 volunteers are required. Please contact Omkar Bhopale (8233 03065) for more details. We will shortly annouce the yearly schedule for you.

Be A Change Maker. Be Maitri Volunteer.

About Melghat Region...: -

Melghat is picturesque tribal region in the northern part of Amravati district. Amravati district is in the eastern part of Maharashtra in India. Most of Melghat borders with Madhya Pradesh. Tapi river divides the 2 states. Administratively the region is part of 2 tehsils - Dharani and Chikhaldara. Dharani is administrative center and Chikhaldara is a famous tourist attraction. Melghat covers approx 320 villages.

Most of the region is hilly with dense forest and its protected under project Tiger. Teakwood, Mahua are the dominent trees in this forest. 2 rivers, Sipna and Khandu flow through Melghat.

Hilly region, non-tarred roads and heavy rains make this area hard to reach. Being part of protected forest has made development of infrastructure harder.

The people living in Melghat are mostly Korku tribals. Other casts include Gavali, Lohar. The villages in hilly region are small, 50-100 households. Most of the people live through agriculture and on forest produce. 

Dhadak Mohim: -

“Let us not let a single child die”

The small group of individuals toured Melghat in the summer of 1997 to understand the situation. They called themselves Melghat Mitra – Friends of Melghat. In the 3 monsoon months of 1997, they ran an emergency program where nearly 250 volunteers from Maharashtra and elsewhere lived with the people in 6 villages over a period of 10 days. Their motto was: “Let us not let a single child die”. Besides helping the local government health machinery to deliver their services, they tried to understand the problems and lives of the Korku tribals in Melghat.

This program gave Melghat Mitra an insight into the complex and multi-faceted problem of malnutrition and helped to look at the problem from different perspectives of the multi-disciplinary volunteer force that worked there. Melghat Mitra believed that malnutrition needed to be addressed at its roots, by ensuring the sustainable livelihood mechanisms for the Korku. In addition, access to basic health and education services will also have to be ensured.

With this understanding and a commitment to saving every child in Melghat, a full-fledged, holistic program evolved. This program involved health care and awareness, education support, governance and community empowerment. The trust, Maitri was registered to provide the legal structure for running this program.

The components of the health program include:

  • Providing primary health care through Arogya Maitrin (village level health worker), who carries out health awareness among young women and girls;
  • Identifies and monitors pregnant women through their pregnancy, ensuring that they have the necessary care;
  • Encourages hospital deliveries, or in case of a home delivery, ensures that correct practices are followed;
  • Provides support to the young mother and monitors the health of the child;
  • Monitors malnutrition in the village with the help of aanganwadi and ensures that the identified children get proper nourishment;
  • Works in coordination with the government health services to ensure their reach;
  • Provides first aid and treatment for simple ailments to all others in the village; and
  • Organises health awareness and education programs in the village.

Maitri’s monsoon campaign Dhadak Mohim reaches out to those villages that have reported the maximum number of child deaths in the earlier year. In this way, Maitri has covered 75 additional villages.

Melghat Health Program: -

Apart from Dhadak Mohim, Maitri runs Health Program in Melghat throughout the year. What does it contain? Let us understand it from Dr. Parvati Halbe who is one of the trustee of Maiti. She is a well known pediatrician in Pune and she has designed this program for Melghat.

Dr. Parvati says,

As a volunteer in Dhadak Mohim I visited Melghat for the first time, it was already an organisation in its teens. Melghat Mitra had brought a considerable change in the minds of Korkus. Whenever I saw them, they were not only letting Maitri volunteers do the check up of their children but they were also demanding the medicine for themselves. They started listening to the suggestions given by Dhadak volunteers to keep the children clean and away from unhygienic states.

Gradually this rapport built by some of previous attenders and health workers from Maitri, people also started demanding for health service at Primary Health centre and Rural hospital.

Continuous efforts taken in the form of Mother and child health programme run with the help of Arogya maitrin in 12 villages has made many women know the importance of timely care available in the hospital for delivering a baby. There are situations when emergency arises and Arogya maitrin is more dependable for quick response to manage the situation through Maitri.

Vigilant care of sick children and early reference has contributed to reduce the mortality due to six infectious diseases in early childhood and to some extent infanthood.

It is the neonates and young mothers who are in need of further assistance. Provision of timely care to low birth weight babies, growth retarded newborns and sick neonates will reduce neonatal mortality.

Simultaneously the child and women health requires to be improved further by providing care to women with gynaecological problems and undernourished young girls.

Maitri is ready with upcoming projects to focus on women health to improve child health.

The success in reducing the child mortality in Melghat, in those villages where Maitri has its year long project has given the inspiration to extend the work in the form of Dhadak Mohim in nearby villages too. Volunteers and some support in the form of Medicine and other aid can help Maitri volunteers to reduce the death rates in the surrounding villages.

Support and encouragement from enthusiastic volunteers can achieve this dream of healthy Melghat.

Maitri Shala - Melghat Education Program: -

After completing residential 100 Days School we realized that there is need to work long term for education. It was very clear that we did not want to create an alternative system for Government Schooling but still want to ensure quality education. So with this focus project "Maitri Shala" was born.

Every village in Melghat has a Zilla Parishad Primary School. Majority of schools are run by single teacher. Because of this and due to other responsibilities on teachers, holidays and leaves there used to be lot of irregularity in school. Students were also not punctual. The parents were not very keen to send them school. All these things were hampering the quality. So we started gathering children one hour before the regular school timing and started teaching them songs, telling stores and doing arts & craft work. Everyday this is not possible through volunteers. So we choosed young fellows from village and gave them this responsibility. We started them calling "Gav Mitra" which means "Friend of Village". We train them periodically for this. Whenever possible volunteers go and help them.

What are responsibilities of "Gav Mitra"?

  • Gather children in school 1 hour before school starts
  • Teach them songs, sing with them.
  • Tell them stories or read out stories.
  • Play language games with them.
  • Show them art and craft activities and get those done from them.
  • Take them to some place nearby, chat with them.

This creates a good bonding among children and develops interest towards learning. That is why we call it "Maitri Shala". We need volunteers for this too.

Community Building Initiatives in Melghat: -

The key to solving problems of Melghat is within the Korku community. When the community comes together to solve their own problems, the problems start disappearing for good. Community building is a key component of Maitri"s long term vision.

Maitri"s current team in Chilati is team of Korku youth working with leadership of Ram. Entire program is planned and executed by them in their own way. This team works with all gav-mitra to reach villages.

- Conduct training programs about government schemes and their applicability
- Providing support and help for interacting with government and other functionaries
- Building local leadership within educated youth

These activities cover areas like Employment guarantee, forest rights, agriculture schemes, cast certificates, etc.

Examples of impact of these activities
- Gramsabha in villages on 15th August has started and spreading.
- Equitable distribution of Indira Aawas Yojana grants
- Water supply schemes in almost all villages
- Rojgar thru MNREGA

Media Coverage

: Be Health Facilitator for remote villages in Melghat
: Dhadak Mohim
: Our Books