Artisan Health and Safety

Generating awareness on sanitation and hygiene – (20 May 2011)

A workshop on clean practices..

Poor sanitation is the root cause of many diseases like typhoid and cholera which can sometimes prove to be fatal. But not many people are aware of this and consequently suffer from a range of health ailments which can be easily prevented by taking a few precautionary hygiene measures. Thus, with a view to create awareness on the importance and need of sanitation and hygiene, a workshop was organized at an urban slum at Gwalior.

“Health and nutrition workshop” at Barmer, Rajasthan (18th February 2011)

An ill fed child with his ribcage prominently on display, along with weak limbs and a pale dark skin is no eye candy but a reality for many of those who are suffering from Malnutrition, a nutritional disorder arising due to lack of balanced diet.

Malnutrition results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess (too high an intake), or in the wrong proportions. A number of different nutrition disorders may arise, depending on which nutrients are under or overabundant in the diet. It is the gravest single threat to the world’s public health, says WHO.

A balanced diet comprising of all the essential nutrients acts as a precursor to be fit and fine and the only way to cure this health disorder. But sometimes, having access to proper nutrition is not always easy as it seems.

Here, we are talking about the poor people coming from the underprivileged and marginalized backgrounds who suffer from nutritional deficiencies mainly due to unaffordability of regular staples like wheat and grains. Another important factor contributing to malnutrition is lack of awareness on this issue. Therefore, making people aware about the right kind of food to eat can do wonders in this regard. As most of the time it happens that the diet contains only one type of nutrients in excess leading to incomplete nutrition. The basic need therefore is to educate people about the ill effects of this deadly condition and the changes to be done in the diet to make it a balanced one which is the only cure to it. To accomplish this a dedicated effort from the society is required. With this view, we recently organized a “Health and nutrition workshop” for our artisans of Barmer, Rajasthan throwing light on healthy food practices.

On 18th of February 2011, the workshop was organized at Barmer, Rajasthan. Artisans from Barmer and nearby villages registered their presence in huge numbers. SETU team member L.R. Kaushal started the session by first having a know how of the artisans eating habits. Upon interaction, it came to light that the artisans can’t afford to have wheat and pulses as staple food, in absence of which they have to totally depend on Bajra (pearl millet) as it is easily available and is also economical. This is a striking fact as bajra is not a regular staple and is consumed only in winters by most of the people. But here in Bramer, all the year round, the villagers feed solely on it, leading to incomplete nutrition in absence of other nutrients not being provided.

Kaushal explained to the people that it’s very important to have a balanced diet, lack of which can give rise to nutritional disorders like malnutrition. He comprehensively told the artisans about the ill effects of this condition, how grave it can be; sometimes leading to even death of the sufferer.

In the session, Kaushal said that a healthy and balanced diet comprising of all the essential nutrients can only help in getting away with malnutrition.

Kaushal suggested the artisans to take the following dietary changes:

  • As bajra is easily accessible, it can be used in different ways to get more of the nutrients from it like to make daliya from bajra.
  • Pulses are the best source of protein but they are expensive and therefore are not within the reach of poor rural people, Kaushal asked the artisans to take green gram which costs less than pulses and that too sprouted green gram which is an excellent source of protein. This will fulfill the protein requirement of diet.
  • The villagers were also asked to make “mahi“ from yoghurt (made from the yoghurts water) and to make daliya from mahi which serves as a rich source of calcium and vitamin C.

Amidst the session, the artisans were distributed pamphlets, designed by SETU giving a brief overview of malnutrition and and how to take a balanced diet.

“Health is wealth”! – Free health check up camp for our wood carving artisans (13th-15th Feb 2011)

With a view to aid the artisans in healthcare, SETU organised a series of 2 free health check up camps for our wood carving artisans of Bijnour, U.P. on the 13th and 15th of february 2011.

Following facilities were provided in the camp:

  • Free health check up
  • Free medicine distribution
  • Free eye check up
  • Spectacles for free to those with weak eye sight

A team of highly qualified doctors comprising of Dr. Mukul Agarwal, Dr. Raees Baig, Dr. Muazaam Hussain Riyazi and Dr. Zaheer Ahmed were appointed for the camp.

Camp started at 10 am in the morning and continued till 4 pm in the evening.

A total of 500 artisans including men and women received free health check up. Out of which 375 artisans with weak eyesight were catered with spectacles free of cost.

Free Health Check up Camp at Reshampura Badnapura, Gwalior (13th Feb 2011)

Healthcare is still a luxury for many! It sounds rather obsolete but is a hardcore reality!! Even the basic medical facilities are not available to some; here we are talking about the underprivileged and marginalized people who can’t afford the highly priced healthcare services and consequently suffer from various health ailments. Therefore, with a view to help them in this regard, on the 13th of February 2011, we organized a free health check up camp for the residents of Reshampura Badnapura, an area located on the outskirts of Gwalior. The beneficiaries of the camp were mostly female sex workers, artisans, and poor laborers.

This was the second time when SETU organized a health camp at Reshampura Badnapura; earlier also we have organized a HIV/AIDS awareness & free health camp here.

The underlying purpose of the camp was to provide basic healthcare for free to the underprivileged people who otherwise are devoid of it. This time around we made arrangements for tuberculosis testing also as it was found that people in the area are suffering from Tuberculosis and in absence of any proper testing and checkups their condition is aggravating with each passing day.

About one week before the camp, SETU team started doing the ground level work & community mobilization. We teamed up with some of the key people in the community and went door to door to make people aware about the camp. Also, SETU enquired about the health ailments from which people are suffering frequently in the area.

On 13th of February 2011, camp started early in the morning at around 10 am. All the testing and checkups were performed under the supervision of an expert team of doctors comprising of one pediatrician, one gynecologist, one general physician and one tuberculosis testing expert.

Following facilities were provided in the camp:

  • Free health check up
  • Free medicine distribution
  • Free DOTS/ Tuberculosis testing
  • Family planning awareness
  • Awareness about reproductive & child health issues
  • Counseling about sanitation and hygiene issues

Around 150 families comprising of 320 people, out of which 255 women and men and 65 children received free health check up.

Eye refraction camp-II for the artisans of Tilonia, Rajasthan (20 December 2010)

As part of our efforts to provide artisans with basic medical facilities, last month on 20th December 2010, another eye refraction camp was organized for our women artisans at Tilonia. Tilonia is a place of traditional craft where people practice embroidery, stitching and similar craft work requiring intense use of eyes. With increasing age, artisans’ eyes become vulnerable to various eye ailments like short sightedness, glaucoma, general eye weakness etc.; this not only affects their health but also adversely affects their work leading to extended work hours which means more work and less wages. Basic eye treatment can solve the problem to a great extent but most of the artisans lack the awareness & funds for proper eye care and medical check up. Therefore, with a view to aid the artisans for eye care, we organized an eye refraction camp in association with health department, barefoot college social work and research centre, Tilonia.

In the camp, expert ophthalmologist Dr. M.S. Gaur from Gaur clinic, Ajmer was present along with technician Mr. Dinesh Kumar and optician Mr. Rajesh Khanna. All the testing and checkups were carried out under their supervision.

Following facilities were provided in the camp:

  • Free eye check up
  • Free medicine distribution
  • Free of cost spectacles to those with weak eyesight
  • Expert advice on regular maintenance of eyes

A total of 179 artisans (mostly women) were treated in the camp.

As a measure to check the eyesight of artisans after getting lenses, they were asked to put thread in the needle as this being a part of their work. Most of them performed the task successfully and felt that with lenses they will now be able to do their work more efficiently than earlier.

Free Health Check up Camp at Chandrabadni Naka, Gwalior (28 Nov. 2010)

As part of our mission to improve the wellbeing and living standards of underprivileged and marginalized people; a health camp was organized by SETU for the stone carving and carpet making communities residing nearby Chandrabadni Naka, Gwalior on 28th November 2010. The underlying purpose for organizing the camp was to lend a helping hand to these less fortunate people who otherwise are not able to avail even the basic medical facilities.

These people due to improper working conditions and unhygienic lifestyle suffer from various ailments like skin diseases, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, muscle fatigue etc. Also, with the changing season i.e. with the onset of winter, fever, cough, cold etc. have become prevalent. Their poor financial conditions & lack of awareness worsen the situation, making even the basic medical amenities inaccessible to them; as a result their health keeps on detoriating day by day. Considering these facts, we organized the health camp in the selected area.

Camp registrations started from 11 am in the morning and continued till 3 in the afternoon. Expert team of doctors comprising of one pediatrician, one gynecologist, two general physicians and two dentists were appointed; under whose supervision all the testing and checkups were performed. A total of 400 people, comprising of 191 women, 138 men and 71 children were treated free of cost in the camp. All the prescribed medicines, multi-vitamins & contraceptives were distributed free of cost. Also, various pathological tests like blood sugar etc were conducted free while, tests like haemoglobin and malaria were conducted at minimal rates. In addition to the free medical checkups, SETU team explained the importance of hygiene to the masses and gave some easy tips on “how to remain fit and fine”.

Feedback of the camp was overwhelming as people want more such camps to be organized in the near future. On our part, this is just a small effort towards a big goal of “artisan health and safety”. Surely, we will achieve it one day!!!

Eye Refraction camp for the artisans of desert area of Dhanau, Barmer, Rajasthan (28th Nov. 2010)

We organized an eye camp for our artisans of Dhanau, Barmer, Rajasthan on 28th Nov. 2010. It was in association with `Viva Terra’, one of our special customers based in USA. It was organized for our artisans at `Social work and Research Centre’ (Barefoot College), social activity wing of our partner artisan Cooperative `Hatheli’, based in Tilonia Rajasthan.

The co-operative trains rural men and women in varied activities to make themselves sustainable; traditional crafts like embroidery, stitching and hand block printing being one of them.

Location of the eye camp was Dhanau, Rajasthan, a remote desert area situated near Indo- Pakistan border. Placed far away from the city, Dhanau is an economically weak area. The villagers here are very poor, struggling everyday to fulfill even the basic needs of food and water, healthcare an inaccessible thing for most of them. The sole source of income for these people is the craft in which they have got first hand expertise. The artisans at Dhanau practice appliqué, embroidery and stitching which involves minute eye work, requiring healthy eyesight. However, many of them suffer from one or the other eye ailments. Their poor vision affects the quality of work leading to low production volumes and increased work hours. We understand their problems and therefore felt the need of an eye camp.

An expert ophthalmologist along with a person for testing the eyes of patients for the correct eye glass numbers were appointed at the camp. The camp took a head start at 9 in the morning and continued till 6 in the evening. A total of 223 people were treated in the camp. Out of which 111 were provided with free eye glasses and 112 were given free medicines.

Given below is a brief statistical data about the camp:

Total no. of people treated in the camp No. of people provided with free eye glasses No. of people provided with free medicines No. of men and women in the age group of 60-80 years
223 111 112 67

In addition to free eye checkup, people were told about the measures to keep their eyes healthy. They were advised to take diet rich in vitamin A and green leafy vegetables as this ensures healthy eyes, protect eyes from dust and direct sunlight, regular washing of eyes with cold water; also instructions were given on the maintenance of spectacles, people were told to clean them with soft cotton cloth and place them properly in the cover avoiding any kind of breakage.

People were very satisfied with the camp as now they can see clearly with the glasses. Also, their work will no more have to suffer owing to poor vision.

Safety kits distribution to Copper Bell Artisans (September 2010)

As part of our ongoing commitment to artisans’ health and safety, more safety kits were distributed to the bell making artisans of Kutch region in association with local NGO Khamir who is working towards revitalizing this craft since long.

Need for safety kits arises due to nature of this art form. The bell making art involves heating of iron structures coated with brass and copper powders, the process needing high temperature furnaces. Majority of the artisans still lack professional manufacturing infrastructure and work from their homes on local or homemade furnaces in absence of proper safety systems. Taking into consideration all these facts, SETU in association with Khamir provides the artisans with safety kits to ensure complete protection at workplace.

In a funfilled gathering the distribution of kits took place at Zura village, a remote area in Kutchh. A total of 25 safety kits including both basic and advance were distributed. Detailed demonstrations on using the kits were given by the Khamir team; in addition to this, the artisans were educated on health hazards that can arise in absence of any precautionary measures taken at workplace; safety kits being one of them. In the event, various other developmental issues were discussed. Artisans from nearby villages Bhuj, Zura, Kunariya (Bhuj Block), Nirona, Ratadiya (Nakhtrana block) participated in the event. The response was overwhelming as artisans want more such events to be organized in near future. Response to the safety kit equipments would be assessed on a regular basis.

Eye check up camp for women artisans of the desert areas (May 2010)

For artisans, art is their soul. It assumes the highest priority for them not only because it is their source of income but also something very close to their heart, being an inheritance of their forefathers which they cherish throughout their lives. Art is their identity. A majority of the art, be it embroidery, appliqué work, hand block printing, bell making or anything else requires intensive use of eyes. Eyes are the most important tools for an artisan and this is especially true for those who do minute work like embroidery. Most of the artisans lack the awareness for proper eye care and medical check up. Another reason for neglecting their eyes is the fact that artisans can’t afford the medical checkups and treatment and therefore sometimes continue to suffer from eye ailments. In many interior desert areas, artisans live in small & scattered hamlets with no medical facility available for many miles.

To help the artisans in this regard, we organized a free `eye checkup camp’ for the poor artisans living in the remote desert areas near Barmer, Rajasthan in association with our partner NGO known as SURE who actively works for the upliftment of the rural population in that area.

In the camp, around 326 poor rural women artisans and their families belonging to the remote villages of `Vindani’, `Gafan’, `Navatala’, `Sarupe ka tala’ and `Samelon ka tala’ in Rajasthan were given free eye check up by a qualified ophthalmologist.

Facilities provided in the camp were:

  • Free eye check up
  • Distribution of good quality spectacles
  • Distribution of free medicines
  • Identification of patients for eye-surgeries ( these will be later operated upon at subsidized rates)
  • Follow up after the camp

Initially, the women were slightly skeptical of the whole process as for some it’s their very first time. But as some of them got their eyes checked, the slightest doubts were cleared.

A total of 120 people were diagnosed to have poor vision i.e. weak eyesight. Out of these, 110 were women artisans and the rest belonged to other categories. All these 120 patients were provided (free of cost) with good quality eye glasses, for their vision correction. In addition to this, around 54 people, diagnosed with acute eye ailments were advised to get operated. They will be helped to get eye surgeries at subdised rates. Also, free medicines were distributed in the camp. The feedback of the camp was positive as people want more such camps to be organized.

Safety kits for Bell making artisans (June 2010)

Bell making is a traditional craft of the Muslim Luhar community residing in the Kutchh region of India. One section of the Luhar ironsmiths specialized in making copper & brass coated iron bells for cows, buffaloes, camels and sheep. Due to consecutive droughts, the cattle breeders could not buy bells regularly for their cattle over the years. The demand for these bells thus declined locally and the bell making craft came to the verge of dying. SETU has been trying to promote their bells in the international market. We have been able to provide them a global marketing platform & economic stability and thus also helped in preserving their traditional art. SETU partners with local NGOs like Khamir-CRC, who have been able to organize this artisan community towards practicing their art successfully.

The bell making art involves heating of iron structures coated with brass & copper powders, the process needing high temperature furnaces. Majority of these artisans still lack professional manufacturing infrastructure and work from their homes on local or home made furnaces with no exhaust or proper safety systems. These processes require that the eyes, nose and hands of the bell making artisans be prevented from extreme temperature, fumes, dust and pollution. In the absence of proper safety precautions, the artisans can suffer serious health issues and that may also ultimately hamper their work.

Taking into consideration the seriousness of the matter, SETU in association with Khamir, in its constant endeavor towards improving the health of artisans, provided them safety kits that ensure complete protection of the metal bell making artisans at their workplace.

Brief details of the safety kits are as follows:

1) For Eye Safety :

  • Transparent borosil furnace glass for furnace observation and handling.
  • Normal transparent glass for buffing and grinding purpose.
  • Welder Glasses that are in Dark black color and are exclusively designed to protect eyes while welding.

2) For Mouth and Nose Safety :

  • Triple filter chemical protective nozzle mask for protection against the hazardous chemical effluents generated by acid wash and furnace use.
  • Normal mask for general-purpose use like buffing, grinding and welding.

3) Fingers and Palm Safety :

  • Leather gloves 12” of superior chrome quality that can withstand heat and are resistant to fire, to protect the artisans’ hands from burns & blemishes.

To make the artisans familiar with the use of safety kits, a three day workshop was organized in which easy demonstrations on using the different components of safety kit was given. Artisans have started using these kits at the workplace and the feedback is positive.

They can now concentrate on work in a better way without the fear of getting exposed to any health risk.We aim to provide such safety kits to all the artisans in near future.

Lending a helping hand to the differently abled: (Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust)

Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust is on of our partner artisan groups which work towards the rehabilitation of physically challenged people. We are very proud to be associated with it and always try to help them in their endeavors as and when possible. In one of such efforts SETU sponsored microscopes and lamination machines for Amar Jyoti.

Microscopes to be used in pathology department for testing purposes and lamination machines were to be used for art and craft related activities.

Taking Guard of artisan’s health

Artisans are experts in their respective skills but they do not care much about their health; one of the reason being that they can’t afford it and the other is their ignorance or lack of information on these matters. Working with a large number of artisans, we are aware of their sufferings and therefore consider it as our responsibility to support them. In one of our visits to a group of wood-carving artisans in Bijnour we were exposed to some ground realities. These artisans while working get exposed to wooden dust which poses severe health risks related to respiratory diseases like asthma, Tuberculosis, bronchitis and various allergies. Some of the artisans do try cover themselves with cloth to get protected from dust but this is not feasible as the cloth hampers their working. When our team head, Rashmi Dhariwal, saw the working condition of these people, she was taken aback and suggested them to use protection masks while working. She also explained the benefits of using masks to remove the slightest doubts and queries of artisans. The idea was accepted with open arms. Not only this, 600 masks were sent free of cost from SETU’s side to the wood craft artisans of HSSS, Nagina, Bijnour to avoid any economic burden on them.

Now all the artisans use masks while working. This is not only ensuring a healthy working environment but has also resulted in increased output. We are quite happy that our small effort has helped remove some health risks from our artisans’ lives.

Medical benefits for the artisans – Meeting basic health needs

SETU is working with over 20000 artisans spread over various regions of India. Many lack access to potable water, electricity, and other basic services. Their villages are sometimes in hostile environments (such as deserts), far away from metropolitan areas. A major challenge of living in a remote location is the lack of health care facilities.

Our goal is to provide this basic facility to all of our artisans and their families. We are currently working in association with various organizations namely `Khamir’, “SURE” and “HSSS” to achieve this basic health care development. Every year, we provide a no. of artisans in different areas with health insurance cover.

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