The Next Saanjh Leadership Retreat will be Held in 2015. Check back soon for updates!.
Camp Saanjh will be held from Nov 28th - Dec 1st in Santa Cruz, CA. The retreat is for school students between the 7 - 17 years.
“ Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought. You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams. ”
- 'The Prophet'by Khalil Gibran
Farmer Suicides Relief Fund: Adopt a Family Program
There is often a romanticized notion of Punjab villages as affluent, the bread baskets of Asia, with youth vibrant with energy, and a people who never have to worry about food, clothing or basic needs of life. Punjab was picked for its fertile promise by the harbingers of the Green Revolution yet within a decade of the Revolution; seeds of agrarian crisis had begun to sprout in the land of promise. This picture is a sharp contrast to the reality. Imagine 15-year-olds gray haired because of malnourishment, a freezing child without warm clothing or regular food, or widows left to fend for themselves in a society with little regard for these families. THEY NEED OUR HELP!
Unable to get sustainable prices for their crops, using intensive chemical fertilizers in a depleted soil, borrowing money again and again from local money lenders to meet their families basic needs, farmers are unable to meet the lenders’ demands. Caught in an ever-deepening economic crisis and trapped in debt, Punjab’s farmers and farm laborers are committing suicides by the thousands. There have been an estimated 40,000 - 90,000 suicides in Punjab in the last two decades. Around 1900 have been documented in only 2 districts of Sangrur, Punjab. The average debt translates to around $2500 per loan.
Suicide ends a life of despair for the victim but it only multiplies the distress for the victim’s family. Left with no means of support after the death of earning members, cases of multiple suicides in families are becoming increasingly common. General apathy by both the State and the Central governments and only sporadic mention in the media, has made the situation worse.
These families have been forgotten. What happens to them? Starvation, abuse of women and children, child labor, and death? This is the Punjab that needs your attention and help!
You can help the at-risk families with your financial support to provide for their sustenance and education to make them self-sufficient!
Through Saanjh, donors from outside India can help a “Rescue and Revival” Program being run by a grassroots organization Baba Nanak Education Society (BNES). Its mission is to help the families of the farmers in Punjab whose primary breadwinner has committed suicide. The program allows people to support families for just $360 per family per year (less than a dollar a day). The money is provided directly to the families with only one condition and qualification – their children stay in school.
The program enables the families by keeping them together, educating children within their own communities, vocational training for the adults, and support the basics of the home. Most importantly saving the children and mothers from exploitation.
How Does the Program Work?
$360 ensures that One family is covered for a year
Donors’ gifts will be combined with those of other sponsors.
The money will be provided to the family with the condition that the children continue to pursue their education. A minimum $360 is provided per year.
BNES will distribute the funds in regular increments to the families to ensure appropriate utilization.
The families are counseled and monitored through BNES field managers.
What can you do to help?
Donate $360 per family, but any amount is welcome
Your funds are tax deductible.
Share this message with your friends and family, and spread the word. If we don’t, no one else will.
The current situation in Punjab is a result of long running issues of poor planning and bad land use:
Punjab Makes Significant Contributions to India’s National Pool: 70% of wheat and 50% of rice.
While Punjab consists of only 1.5% of the total land mass of the country.
Through the Green Revolution, production was improved with the use of modified seeds that increased yield but only when combined with expensive chemical fertilizers and intensive irrigation.
Unable to afford sufficient amounts of these expensive inputs, small farmers found their holdings becoming progressively less profitable.
Meanwhile, grain prices remained comparatively low even as input costs increased.
The diversion of river waters and intensive farming to get higher yields has led to:
Increased use of Tube wells. There has been a 500% increase in the number of tube wells in Punjab since the beginning of the Green Revolution. In 2007, it was reported that Punjab had almost 1 million tube wells.
80% of the state water table is in decline because of the excessive use of ground water.
20% of the state ground water is below the critical level of 10 meters.
The land stripped of its nutrients is producing successively lower and lower yields.
Increased use of pesticides and fertilizers has created serious health issues with increased levels of carcinogens that are found in soil and water.
Farmers end up borrowing money from loan sharks at exorbitant interest rates and repayment conditions.
Farmers are then forced to sell their crops for less than it costs them to produce, meaning the farmers cannot repay the loans.
The social stigma of having collection agents at the door, the inability to provide for the family, and being trapped in this vicious cycle drives many of the farmers to take their own life.
In a study conducted by the NGO “Movement Against State Repression” in 91 villages from just two sub-divisions (Moonak and Lehran) of the Sangrur district in Punjab, there have been 1738 suicides since 1988. The organization estimates that there have been more than 50,000 suicides in the entire state since 1988, though not all districts are equally affected. Other studies led by educational institutions such as Punjab Agricultural University and the leading farmer’s union – Bhartiya Kisan Union—bear out these numbers.
Please support the families by donating today.DONATE NOW. Also join our FB page, and share this message with your friends and family, and spread the word.
If we don’t, no one else will.
An energized and inspired community that works in solidarity towards the cause of a fair and just society for all (Sarbat da Bhalla).