EQUITAS BIRDS NEST
REHABILITATION OF HOMELESS PAVEMENT DWELLERS
Nearly all of Chennai's homeless have been on the streets for at least 20 years, while 75 percent have lived that way for more than 30 years, according to non-profit Information and Resource Centre for Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC),most of them work as daily wage earners, making less than 100 rupees ($1.50) a day, IRCDUC's survey showed. Most of these homeless people living on pavements do not have any of the basic documents like Aadhaar, Ration Card, Voter ID ..etc that entitles them for various Government schemes & benefits and because of this as they are not considered as bonafide citizens etc.
Equitas Development Initiatives Trust formed in 2008 as a charitable trust is committed to improving the quality of life of those households living below the poverty line, such as those women who have KYC documents (Regulatory requirement) are selected and given SHG loans by Equitas Small Finance Bank. Equitas Trust in 2008 realized that its financial services would be beyond the reach of such extremely poor homeless families who do not possess ay of the KYC documents.
In Chennai city where Equitas started operations, homeless people, a segment comprising migrants from villages who come to the city seeking a more prosperous future. Having migrated, they often find themselves without the right skills to be employable and without any asset of their own to generate a business and equally importantly, without a support network that can incubate or guide them during their initial period in the city. Without the means for obtaining a roof over their head, these households reside on the pavement of the roads, bus stand, markets. etc. and start begging for a living. According to the 2011 Census, there were around 9600 such families in Chennai.
Their problems are further compounded by their lack of any relevant identity proofs, which denies them the means for obtaining the benefits of any government scheme meant or the poor. Also, there has been little intervention by non-governmental organizations targeting this segment of pavement dwellers due to their heterogeneous and geographically dispersed nature
This segment is not treated humanely by the society, since they are not clean and don’t wear proper clothes. Since there is no proper employment for them, they seek illegal ways to earn their livelihood, sometimes peddling drug, boot legging etc.
SUCCESS OF EQUITAS MODEL
Equitas Birds Nest (EBN) program was derived from certain key values that Equitas has inculcated in all its areas of operation. Any intervention can make a meaningful difference only if it is self-sustainable and achieve sufficient scale, and also Equitas strongly believes that the deprived sections of the society will help themselves and improve their own quality of life if, and when, provided an opportunity to do so.
To get a comprehensive understanding of the problems of pavement dwellers, Equitas engaged UNITUS of USA through a brain-storming session to discuss ways of addressing this issue and thus designed a structured intervention program. Based on this understanding Equitas went ahead launching Equitas Birds Nest (EBN) in the year 2009, a comprehensive rehabilitation program to empower this highly vulnerable segment of homeless families. Equitas deployed a wide range of its Ecosystem initiatives (health & Hygiene, Skill Training, counselling, food security, Education and job placement for unemployed) in delivering this intervention mechanism to the target segment through the woman of the household within an eighteen-month period.
SELECTION & CONCEPT SEEDING
Through three-step approach, Equitas began the program through a preliminary phase (Selection & Concept Seeding) in which members would be formed into support groups. These support groups would help members understand the nature of intervention Equitas seeks to bring about and for those who are not interested in this program to drop out. During this phase, counselling is given to the members and the details of Equitas intervention scheme was explained to the members in detail to such groups.
In the second phase, Equitas deployed its interventions and addressed the spectrum of needs of its members on a cost-free basis for the members. To begin with, Equitas moved the members from the pavement to a house (in a nearby slum) and agreed to bear the rent for the first six months. Equitas also provided livelihood skills training for a period by which the household income improved.
During the final phase, their progress is monitored through monthly meetings. Simultaneously, these
members’ households were provided access to quality healthcare as well as children were enrolled in
schools and for others off-school education provided.
In addition, the overall quality of members’ lives was bench-marked against the globally recognized Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI). Members’ PPI score was tracked before and after the intervention program to gauge the impact of the intervention program.
As on date we have shifted 2294 families and we have observed the following changes in their life style:
STORY OF MRS KARPAGAM: GRADUATING TO BECOME A MEMBER OF SHG AND SECURED JOB FOR HER DAUGHTER
BEFORE-LIFE ON THE PAVEMENT
AFTER-IN A SECURED HOME
Mrs .P Karpagam was abandoned by her husband, was living with her two daughters on the pavement near Pulianthope high road, Chennai City. It was very difficult for her to lead life in the pavement because of eve teasing. We identified and rehabilitated them into a house in BV colony , Vyasarpadi. Chennai. We also provided her elder daughter Jayalakshmi a job in a grocery store with the salary of Rs.6000/- PM which changed their style of Living. Younger daughter was trained in tailoring through our skill training program and got placed in a Textile export company. Mrs. Karpagam started selling flowers in the nearby temple and started to add to the family kitty. After a few months Mrs. Karpagam obtained voters ID became an SHG member of Equitas joint Liability group, with loan she improved her business. Now she is planning to get her elder daughter married.
STORY OF MRS PUSHPA FROM THE PAVEMENT TO BECOMING A LEADER OF A SHG WOMEN GROUP
BEFORE-LIFE ON THE PAVEMENT
AFTER- DAUGHTER GETS MARRIED HAS GRANDSON
Mrs. Pushpa was living on the pavement of Ayanavaram Bus Depot in Chennai,City. She was living with her mother and her younger brother; her father expired at a young age. Her mother used to collect waste paper and scrap iron materials and sell it in the waste paper mart, she was the sole earning member. Mrs.Pushpa was unable to get married because of a gynecology problem which was treated at Chettinad Hospital, Chennai with whom we have a tie up . She was completely cured and got married to her relative and became a mother, her child is now three years old. We trained her to make Agarbathi and phenyl through our skill training program. Now she adds income to the family by selling Agarbathi & Phenyl and she sells it in nearby shops .Her business has improved well and we supported her to get a Voter ID for the first time in her life and she has now become a leader of a SHG group of rehabilitated pavement dwellers who borrow from Equitas to run small businesses. She leads a happy life with her husband and son and also supports her mother.
TO INSPIRE … TO MOTIVATE
Rehabilitated from Basin Bridge, Mrs. Velankanni is living with her family in Korukkupet. She is working as a Housekeeping staff . Her younger daughter Rubasree has won Chess Tournament at Zonal level. Jayasree her sister is also a District Level player in Chess.
From 2008 to August, 2022
Relocated over 2,294
Equitas Bird Nest
Facilitated Financial help for
pursuing school and higher
education to 2,174 Children
from rehabilitated families who
were living on pavement.
EQUITAS BIRDS NEST PROGRAM – THE WAY AHEAD