DIR in India

The Janta Colony Project, Chandigarh [ photo tour ]


In a crowded slum where 8996 people live in 2,047 tiny homes, located just outside Chandigarh, capital of the Punjab, DIR has a project being implemented by the residents.  This "bustee" is called Janta Colony.










News from Chandigarh, November 2008




(From Frederick Shaw)

Amongst the exciting things that we became involved in this month is the new “Child–to-Child” programme which will be co-ordinated by our Dr. Gurpreet Singh.  This programme, in which we hope to have the collaboration of the University of Frazer Valley (British Columbia), is aimed at training a cadre of young people in the slums to be teachers of their colleagues and younger brothers and sisters.  The thrust of activities is the improvement of health through addressing related habits of young people.  The project is an experimental one with no assured beneficial products, but one we believe deserves a try, and one which could have great potential if we can grasp and hold the youngsters’ interest and stimulate the kind of participation we want.  As anyone who has ever worked with adolescents appreciates, it presents no dearth of challenges.

In the last week of the month, with the collaboration of the National Dental College, we conducted a free dental screening programme in which 40 students in their final year plus faculty provided services.  Free, or almost free, corrective treatment is now planned.

Skilled volunteers from Chandigarh continue to donate their time and talents and greatly enrich our programmes.  Despite the shortage of funds, we gave-up waiting on donations and blew some cash on second-hand storage shelves to help bring some order to our school and training materials.

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai and its sad outcomes (183 now reported dead, and some 240 injured) grasped and held out attention for the last three days of the month, and marred with horror what had been a happy, busy, productive month for DIR.



(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)

The Child to Child program got started in the third week of this month. To start with, introductory meetings with all the 9 teams of children were held on the roof of the bustee office. A Monitor and a Prefect were chosen from each team by the team mates themselves. Children were very excited to be part of the program where they showed keen interest to gain some knowledge on how they can become healthier.

TChildren participating in one of the early meetingso add to the excitement of the children Dr. Frederick promised the children some prizes for those who are the best learners from each team, which will be tested every two months by a short academic test.  He also promised a picnic for all the kids every three months.

To further increase the interest of the children and to motivate them to attend all such meetings under the program he also announced a prize for all those who have 100% attendance, which will be presented to children after every 6 months. The list does not end here -- last but not least, the promise of a job for all the deserving children was also given. These promises filled the kids with more enthusiasm because there can’t be a better opportunity where kids have fun and learn for the betterment of their future and families as well.



(Contributed by DIR-I Nutritionist, Loveleen Bhumra)


After the success of the first Dental camp held in collaboration with National Dental College (NDC), a second dental camp was held from 25th to 28th of this month in DIR bustee office. A team of about 40 staff members led by Dr. Satpreet, comprised of dental interns and students, attended the camp daily. Dental screening of a total of 645 patients was carried out in the camp, which will be followed by treatment of the patients in NDC, Derabassi (a town on the edge of Chandigarh), from the first week of December onwards. Transportation of the patients will be managed by NDC.


Students from various schools in and around the bustee were also screened for any dental problems. Along with screening, special classes on oral hygiene and proper brushing techniques were also held for the school children.



(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)


Interns from the Child Development Department of Home Science College, Chandigarh, visited the bustee office on 1st, 3rd and 4th Thursdays, where they helped us in training the Health Promoters. Their visits will continue in December as well.  A total of 11 interns came to the bustee along with their Supervisor, Mrs. Swati.  The interns were divided into 5 teams, the first team having three interns who worked with pre-school children in DIR’s School and Anganwadi, helping them in a various ways, e.g. reading stories to small groups of children, making visual teaching aids, playing educational games, etc.


The other four teams had two interns each, with one team helping Health Promoters write and produce short skits (plays) which can deliver Health Education messages to the audience, while another team helped in writing and producing puppet shows for the same purpose. The fourth team was involved in assisting DIR staff in devising and planning some activities and games which can be used in Child to Child activities. The fifth team visited selected homes in the bustee to assist Health Promoters deal with specific problems they have encountered, e.g. with chronically underweight children, hyperactive children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, parents who need advice, etc.


We are grateful to the group of people from Home Science College for the help they have provided us by training the Health Promoters to improve some of their methods of communication, and also for their help to us in trying to improve the Anganwadi.




(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Gurpreet Singh)




Out of the 80 women who were pregnant when last month closed, 18 had live births in November and there was one case of a stillbirth.  Twelve new pregnancies were identified during November, making a total number of 73 pregnant ladies at the end of this month.  Of the 18 ladies who delivered this month, 15 got three or more Antenatal checkups which is a major step forward.


Thirteen women delivered in the Government Hospital in Sector-16, 2 in PGI, and 3 delivered in their homes.  The bustee got 10 baby boys and 8 baby girls this month.  All the 18 ladies had their postnatal checkups within 2 days of their delivery.



From the 41 pregnant ladies last month in Adarsh Nagar, 9 ladies delivered this month. 4 new pregnancies were identified in the area, but one of the ladies permanently shifted from Adarsh Nagar.  This makes the total number of pregnant ladies in Adarsh Nagar this month 35.  We are happy to say that all 9 ladies who delivered their babies had got more than 3 Antenatal examinations during their pregnancy.


Four out of nine ladies delivered in Sector-16 hospital, while 2 delivered in PGI (Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Science and Research) and 1 each in Sector-22 and Sector-32 hospitals. One of the ladies delivered her baby at home.  Out of the total 8 babies Adarsh Nagar got this month, 4 were males and the rest were females. One of the ladies had an unfortunate still birth. All 9 ladies got their postnatal checkups within 2 days of their delivery.




(Contributed by DIR-I Nutritionists, Gunjan Aggrawal and Loveleen Bhumra)

In the month of November, our nutrition classes focussed on education on the role of nutrition in treating and managing disabilities.  A field demonstration was given on nutritious laddu, as they are rich in proteins and carbohydrates, providing warmth along with nutrition, making them ideal for the winter season.



(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Harsh Sharma)


In the month of November 2008, immunization was held on the second Monday (10th November) and third Friday (21st November), 3rd Monday being the day for the Pulse Polio campaign conducted by Punjab Government. A total of 105 shots were given in this month, 77 being given on 10th of November and 28 on 21st of November. The details of the immunization are as follows (sum total of both days):


a) Measles          - 11

b) BCG               - 6

c) DT                  - 5

d) DPT Booster   - 4



1st Dose

2nd Dose

3rd Dose

Hepatitis B














D.    D.O.T.S.

(Contributed by DIR-I Physician Harsh Sharma)

In October month, DIR served 15 Tuberculosis patients by providing them medicines supplied by Government under DOTS program. One new patient, Phoolwati added to the list, making the total number of patients helped by DIR to 16. Following is the distribution of these patients in three categories:

Category I – 9

Category II – 3

Category III – 4



(Contributed by DIR-I Nutritionist Loveleen Bhumra)

There were no new micro-finance beneficiaries in the month of November. The months of October and November we purposefully didn’t look in for more takers, as we wanted to see how the earlier beneficiaries have actually been benefitted by the loan. We are happy to inform you that they have their businesses rolling, and along with that they have started paying back their loan instalments right on time. So, we can say we have a hassle-free micro-finance programme running. Fresh meetings for the look out for new beneficiaries will be held tentatively in the 2nd week of December.



(Contributed by Education Committee Chairman Mrs. Lobo)


As we near the end of 2008, our school too is finishing its activities for the year. For the Kindergarten (KG) children we have tried to make our programme a replica of the syllabus followed by Chandigarh’s better private schools. Our only regret is that spoken English is still a tongue twister for our children even though they have made progress with written work and can understand simple instructions in English

Some of the parents are unable to make the children do practice sheets at home, so our teachers are completing these tasks at the school.  We have painted parts of the class room walls black, to be used by teachers and the children as extended blackboards. This gives us more space in otherwise small rooms.

We have added half an hour’s computer familiarization each Wednesday. We have also introduced a library period when children from Nursery and KG sit in the library, looking through books and magazines as the teachers interact with them, ask questions and encourage the children to act out concepts and stories.

A student decorated with flowers on Children's Day14th November was Children’s Day, celebrated in memory of Pandit Jwaharlal Nehru. Gunjan (one of our Nutritionists) made a delicious chocolate cake and Vikramjit from Sai Sweets was very generous with sweets (candy). We had a fancy cap competition. Some very innovative ideas were on display.


Students from the Home Science College have started a programme of visiting once a week to help with the Health Programmes, our School and our Aanganwadi. They are enriching our programmes with their games, teaching methods and craft work, all of which are innovative, enjoyable and well thought out.

The two Aanganwadi classes are still a cause for concern. We seem to make no headway with the authorities. One of the helpers still slaps the babies whenever they cry. Despite parental complaints, plus our pleas and requests, there is no change in her attitude. The children still have no toys, stationery or equipment to keep them busy. The only visible activity is making the midday meal, in our kitchen with our equipment, which is done with enthusiasm.

February 2009 will see us participating in the twice-annual DIR Cultural Show. The children are putting on a dance to a catchy song from Taare Zameen Par. Their lack of inhibition shows wonderful comfort levels and confidence achieved by our teachers. Till then, keep wishing us the best in our endeavors.



(Contributed by Administrator Pannu Singh)


1.      A team of 10 girls under the direct supervision of Assistant Professor Mrs. Suman visited bustee office on 6th Nov. These students from Home Science College assist DIR - bustee staff in various fields, such as improving the nutritional status of our “priority kids”, helping Anganwadi teachers, assisting Mrs. Sunita Sharma in DIR School With a Difference, helping design puppetry shows, and so on and so forth. In all they will be visiting on 5 Thursdays till end of this year from 0900 to 1300 hrs each day.

2.   Ms.Isha from the Tammana NGO visited the bustee office on the 10th and arranged and coordinated an excursion trip for 25 under-privileged children from Janta Colony. This outing and picnic was sponsored by SBI and CITCO of UT Chandigarh. CITCO provided a city ride on open-air HOP-TOP tourist bus.

3.   Mrs.Ripna Sandhu, CDPO visited bustee on an official visit to Anganwadis. Mrs. Lobo, our Education Coordinator, had a useful discourse with her on improving the Anganwadis.

4.   In order to have a first hand information on implementation of Microfinance, a team of Rotaracts from Italy visited bustee on 11th Nov.  A visit to the beneficiaries of this scheme was arranged.

5.      A Canadian citizen, Ms. Tania Burstyn, visited bustee on 19 Nov. She was briefed on DIRs activities by our CEO and volunteered her services to enrich our School and Anganwadi  programmes.


Health Promoter Ms. Sunita resigned from DIR with effect from 17th Nov. 2008 to join her husband in Bihar state. In keeping with DIR tradition, she was given a simple but warm farewell at bustee office.  Mrs. Roberta graced the occasion besides Dr. Frederick.  Sunita is one of our earliest employees and will be missed.

[ Read previous updates: October 07, September 07June 07, April 2007, January 2007, October 2006, June 2006 ]

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