SHAMA, Inc. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization
Jagdish Chander
2460 Crescent Court, Plover WI 54467  (715) 341-1538
Click on picture for larger view
Ashok Salve
Ashok Salve

Background of Mhaskal Village
and SHAMA, Inc.'s Involvement

How it began  ||  Village background  ||  Village meetings

How it began

An SPRJ geography professor, Ashok Salve, lives in a distant suburb of Mumbai. On his son's birthday he thought of offering a midday meal for the children of a nearby village, Mhaskal. He had heard that the tribal population that lives there is much below the poverty line, and he went there a week before the birthday to collect data about the number of children around the age of his son. He told everyone of his intentions and hoped for a roaring response. But on the appointed day when he arrived with the lunch packets and ice cream, no one turned up. Instead, outside the school was a big group of children, and with them were their mothers.

Mr. Salve asked them to send their children in. They said in chorus, "Will you allow us to take these packets home and share it with the other children in our families? They have never eaten a meal like this." Our friend Ashok was moved to tears. When he nodded yes, there was pandemonium, with everyone trying to grab as many packets as they could. The college decided to adopt this village.

Village background

Mhaskal village is listed as one of the poorest tribes by the Indian government. Earlier the NSS wing (National Social Service, part of SPN Doshi) had been working in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, but since there is already a number of NGOs and voluntary organizations working there, SHAMA, Inc. assistance would not have as great an impact.

Mhaskal is two hours north of Mumbai, about 40 km. The village was absolutely undeveloped, with practically no amenities. Ashok Salve has been busy working with the people in the village, originally helping them with a five-year plan, and helping to oversee the progress made.

Village Meetings

While Jyoti Chander visited in 2004, the villagers had their first town meeting. Everyone in the village was invited to attend the meeting, and men, women, and children were all allowed to speak. Problems were highlighted and people were given a chance to express their visions of what they needed. Toilets were a strong need, and associated pits to compost fertilizer for crops. Schoolchildren asked for sports in the school and a level place to play. Some women complained of being beaten by drunken husbands and asked for alcohol to be banned. But the alcohol producer said that would cause her not to have an income. This has not yet been resolved.

There have been further village meetings. One was held again in 2005, when Jyoti Chander and Pat Reckrey (both live in Wisconsin) were present. At this meeting a need was expressed for a community garden and solar lamps. See this page for information about these projects.

These meetings give villagers a chance to practice democracy.

Click on pictures for larger views

People attending
2004 town meeting
Brick wall is part of school
women and children
Unschooled children
Village meeting with woman shouting
Woman who sells
alcohol speaking, 2004
Level playground 
Leveled playground
at school

Village women meeting
in 2005

Home     About SHAMA     Programs     Events     Partners     Donations

Web design by Lynn Kirby, 2007