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Implementing Work With Education

CSR activities by Adani Foundation in Bhuj are helping fishermen to supplement their livelihood during off season while providing quality education, writes Rakesh Kumar.

Rakesh Kumar | New Delhi |

Yakub Hasan Manjaliya, in his 60s, lives in a small village Luni in Bhuj district of Gujarat with his extended family, all of them sharing the same profession. Living near the sea, the whole family of Yakub Bhai, as he is called, is into fishing. Most of the year, they are busy at sea and the multiple hands of his family ensures a good output. But for two months, from June to August, when fishing is banned because it’s their breeding season, the family is left with no choice but to idle at home.

This is the story of all the fishermen, living not only Luni village, but all the villages around Mundra port, who become unemployed for the two months. “We, like any other fishermen, leave our villages and settle around coast along with our family. This practice continues for almost 8-9 months and we earn sufficient to meet our expenses. However, when the period gets over, we find difficult to sustain as it is a longer period and we have no other profession,” informed Yakub.

Tough life

Life has always been difficult for these fishermen as half of their life revolves around the sea, fish and fishing nets. But not all of them have fishing net. These fishermen borrow money to buy or rent the fishing nets and these “owners” usually charge high rates. Then they also have recurring expenses to buy, rent and maintain the nets. Consequently they end up with a piling debt. “When it’s not the season, we have no money.

There is nothing to do at all. Therefore, we pass our time waiting for the next season,” informed another fisherman, who has just shifted from village to the coast with family. As the income of these fisher-folk is just not enough to make their ends meet, they are unable to afford the cost of replacing the nets. Here Adani Foundation came to their rescue. As part of their mandatory CSR activities, the Foundation has trained the fishermen to plant mangroves along the sea shore, when they are not busy at sea. Their efforts have brought fruitful results: the mangroves not only give employment to the fishermen but are also very beneficial for the sea.

Natures devastation

Ever since Gujarat witnessed a massive earthquake with its epi-centre in Bhuj, killing over 20,000 people, injuring 1.66 lakh and destroying nearly 4 lakh homes, it seemed people were more concerned about nature. The whole Bhuj area falls in earthquake prone area, which means it can witness any time a big catastrophe from the sea. “There are several benefits of these mangroves. It would not only protect the sea from any mishap, but it will also give employment to these poor fishermen. Also it makes the area greener,” said Pankti Shah, the spokesperson and Project Coordinator of Adani Founation. With modern technique the Foundation has dedicated its horticulture team, along with locals to afforest mangroves, spanning an area of over 2889 hectares. So far, over two million trees have been planted within the premises. “We have started planting these mangroves with outsiders. Now, we are fully trained. And I have understood these plants so well that I can teach others about it,” informed Yakub Bhai, who now teaches other fishermen about planting mangroves.

Quality education

Adani Foundation is not just helping the fishermen to supplement their income but is also helping their kids get education. They have set up Adani Vidya Mandir, a school that provides quality English education to the deprived kids, mainly from the fishing community.

What sets the school apart is that it provides free of cost education to the students. “Since most of the students are first generation school goers, it becomes very difficult to teach them but they are learning very well. We organise various activities to sensitise the parents about the structure of education provided,” informed the principal of the school. When asked about the idea of school, Priti G Adani, the chairperson of Adani Foundation informed, “You know when I was student, one of my teachers would ask each of us whenever you become something at least teach one underprivileged child. This is the genesis of the school and foundation.”