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History of Seva Kendra Silchar

Seva Kendra Silchar, came into existence in the year 1988 at the initiative of Most. Rev. Lt. Bishop Denzil ‘D Souza, the then Bishop of Silchar Diocese covering the present Diocese of Aizawl, Agartala and Parts of Diphu Diocese or the North Cachar Hills. The then Visionary Bishop had travelled extensively in both the urban and rural areas of the Diocese to familiarize himself of the situation among the urban and rural classes. He was deeply moved by the pathetic conditions of the people in rural areas especially among the tribal communities of the diocese. He had seen that the tribals who inhabit the rural and far flung areas were deprived of all benefits from the government. The areas are not easily accessible and one has to walk kilometers to get to those villages. He was also deeply concern with the pathetic conditions of the tea tribes who are working in the tea gardens of Barak Valley, now in the present diocese of Aizawl.

His concern for such deprived people had compelled him to convene a meeting among his religious congregation to start an organization in order to help the deprived people of the diocese. As a result Seva Kendra Silchar came into existence on April 1988. A full fledged Director was appointed to be assisted by office assistants and Coordinators to oversee and monitor social developmental works in the diocese. The help of MISEREOR-Germany was resorted and the agency enthusiastically responded by financing the office building of Seva Kendra Silchar and a Project Title “ Integrated Development among the Tribals in the Barak valley” of Assam. Since then a movement of Self Help Groups among the tribals and other backward communities was initiated whereby the people were thoroughly sensitized on the concept of savings and micro – finance.

As of now Seva Kendra Silchar is facilitating 472 self Help groups in the three districts of Barak valley viz. Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. These Self Help groups started income generation activities from their own savings by investing on activities such as betel leaf and nut cultivation, piggery, weaving, petty business, poultry, fishery and other allied activities. These activities have increased income of the household of SHG members, thereby enabling them to send their children to schools for basic minimum educational needs. As time goes by, Seva Kendra Silchar also sensitized the Self Help group members of the opportunities of getting development funds from the government. Awareness programmes were conducted by a team of Seva Kendra Silchar extensively in its operational area as per the needs of the people. The SHGs facilitated were credit linkage to different banks operating in the valley. The animators were trained up by the Director and Coordinator for helping in grading the SHGs under ‘Swarna Gramin Swarozgar Yojana’ (SGSY) a developmental scheme for SHGs initiated by the government of India. Over the last three years the animators were helping the SHGs in grading and availing funds under the said scheme from the different blocks and Banks of the valley. As on this date the different SHGs facilitated by Seva Kendra Silchar has availed more than Rs. 40,00,000.00 (Indian Currency) under the scheme from different blocks of the region. The members of these SHGs invested the fund in different activities such as goatery, piggery, duckery, fishery, mushroom cultivation and other allied activity that fits the local context, such as market demand and availability of raw materials.

Much has been done with many benevolent benefactors and donors from abroad and within India to uplift the rural tribal communities deprived by each successive government at the local level. However, more and concrete steps need to be initiated to bring and uplift these tribal communities on par with other communities living in this part of the valley. The church has been doing tremendous work in rural areas of the valley among different ethnic tribals irrespective of caste, creed and belief and has won the acceptance of these communities. The children of these tribal communities have improved considerably in terms of education which can be seen in their holding higher position in government jobs all over the valley and other parts of the country. The church and Seva Kendra Silchar is indebted to benefactors and donors who has selflessly contributed for the upliftment of these communities in a true spirit of Catholic social teaching. However, as I have mentioned earlier much has been done but still more can be achieve thorough concerted efforts in order to enable these tribal and other backward communities join the mainstreams of society.