1993 -1999 : The Foundation takes shape
The SKS Chakshu Foundation was started by Mr Nirbhay Jain, retired President of Birla Group Companies. The objective of the Foundation was to provide basic amenities to under-developed villages in the areas of education, enterprise, health and infrastructure. The goal was to improve the living conditions of the villagers, placing them on the path towards economic self sufficiency.
The Foundation was actively involved in the final stages of a Health, Hunger & Humanity project, in association with Rotary Club of Bombay Mid-Town. The project was funded in large part by a grant of $ 3,30,000 from U.S.A. - Rotary International.
Nere village, Panvel taluka, Raigad district, located about 50 Kms from Mumbai, was chosen as the appropriate starting location for the project. The scope of the project was later expanded to include 64 neighbouring villages, impacting the lives of more than 40,000 people.
Roads were paved with the help of local authorities, and the State Transport Authorities were encouraged to provide local bus services. This enabled the villagers to link into the economic life of the town of Panvel.
A Bank Of India branch was opened at Nere, the first in the village, with the Foundation’s initiative.
The Foundation conducted free Eye and ENT check up camps in several villages like Nere, Koproli, Umroli, Bonshet etc. The high incidence of eye cataracts was identified as an important issue. Free cataract operations were conducted for the affected villagers.
An ophthalmic centre was started to address the need for eye care and medical facilities in the rural areas. The eye camps and cataract operations continue to be an important part of the SKS Chakshu Foundation till today.
2000 - 2003: Important initiatives in Education undertaken
The Rakesh Jain Madhyamik Vidyamandir (secondary school) was started in Shivkar village near Panvel, with 150 students in the initial year. The number of students subsequently grew to about 500 by 2011.
Balwadis (play schools) were started in villages such as Waghachiwadi, Gadheshwar etc, for the children of the tribal people.
2004 -2006: Economic empowerment of women initiated
In 2005, Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) were started in Nere village to help women, who had no income of their own, to become financially independent. Each SHG has the potential to generate earnings of up to Rs 6,000 / month.
Medical Centre was opened in Usarli village to provide basic medical care and facilities.
2007 - 2010: Consolidation & Strengthening of Foundation's Education, Health & Economic Self Help Initiatives
The Rakesh Jain Madhyamic Vidyamandir (secondary school) in Shivkar had a very successful pass percentage of 96% in the March 2008 SSC (standard 10) school board exams. This was a commendable result, when compared with the average pass rate of 50% or less that most of the schools in the rural areas achieve.
In addition, the Foundation has implemented a programme to impart special skills training to the students in:
a) Computer Education
b) English Speaking
c) Audio-Visual Media
d) Science Lab
e) IBT (Introduction to Basic Technology) – vocational courses
f) Mal-Khamb (Indian form of gymnastics performed around a thick pole)
The Chaitanya Kendra in association with Kotak Education Foundation was started at Akurli near Panvel to impart a well planned livelihood and training programme to support mainly drop out students as well as who have successfully passed 10th to 12th standard, as well as school dropouts. The courses aim to help the youth to gain self-confidence, train them and empower them to be financially independent.
Around 48 bore wells were dug in around 48 villages, to provide clean and potable water.
With the gradual increase in the number of Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), and consequently in the number of SHG clusters, a women’s Self Help Group Federation was formed in November 2009. By 2010, about 150 SHGs with a membership of more than 2000 newly empowered village women, were members of the Federation.
2011: Current Status
The SKS Chakshu Foundation’s many initiatives in the rural areas around Panvel continue to transform the villagers’ lives.
In order to strengthen the administrative and planning capacities of the Foundation, new members have been added to the SKS Chakshu Foundation’s board of Trustees as well as the management team. All these positions are voluntary, allowing the Foundation to continue to function with a very low administrative cost.
The activities undertaken through the Women’s Self Help groups are helping to create a healthier environment for the villagers through the introduction of vegetable gardens and better sanitation facilities.
The support to the rural women had extended to include special training to enable them to become entrepreneurs and managers, thereby enriching their lives economically.
The children of the secondary school have now been introduced to 24 select vocations through IBT (introduction to basic technology) subjects.
Project to tackle malnutrition, especially in the tribal areas, was initiated
An ongoing project ‘Let’s Build Toilets’ has been initiated to address the endemic problem of open defecation. Aim is to build individual toilets for 1000 rural homes.