The Saharia tribes are concentrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh (Mostly in the Shivpuri, Guna and Veedisha districts) and Rajasthan (mostly in the Baran district). Originally forest dwellers, they have been forced to move out of their original vocation and livelihood due to increasing depletion of forest resources. Continuous drought and lack of other resources to fall back upon has made them even more vulnerable. They are mostly landless and do not have any profitable skills or training. Illiteracy is rampant in the community and they are not in a position to access the government benefits and welfare schemes that are meant for them. As a result, they are mostly forced to work as daily wage earners either in their own state or have to migrate out to other states in search of work. The only source of earning left for the Sahariyas was that of farm labour (Since most of them are landless unskilled). However, this source of income is also gradually receding with the mechanization of farm labour. In addition, indebtness to moneylenders and farm owners leads to the situation that even when they get work, they often have to work for meager compensation; there are instances where Sahariyas are working on meager wages to repay the loans. Their parents had taken. This has resulted in the Sahariyas being forced in to new occupations like stone quarrying. However, the change in occupation pattern has not stopped the way in which they are exploited. rather , it has in fact increased the exploitation . Thus the major reasons behind their powerlessness and vulnerability is that they don't have the appropriate skills, the required resources; financial and educational, to lead a life of dignity. Bandhua Mukti Morcha runs a Skill training centers in Banskhedi village of Shivpuri Block In the neighbouring Shivpuri district and non-formal school at Gunna district in Madhya Pradesh. It was stated in the year of 2003, and funded in part by the ministry of Tribal welfare, The project involves resettlement and rehabilitation of Saharia families whose conditions were worse than even that of the bonded labourers in th adjoining stone quarries as well as stone quarrying machinery and land and money for building homes have been arranged for these families at Banskhedi Village.
Vocational training centers have been established at Banskhedi and Padoda villages. Seventy-five men and women in total 25 women in dari (carpet)-making, 25 men in tailoring and again 25 in Tailoring at Padoda are getting training. Besides each trainee is provided with a stipened of Rs, 1000 per month. Along with training , they are being actively involved in health , sanitation , and self help group programs . Saharia women have been organized in to self-help groups (SHGs) have been formed -presently 5 groups of women have been formed.
Health Centre at Banskhedi run by BMM
Banskhedi is a small village inhabitated by extremely poor Saharia tribes. It is located twelve kilometer away from the district headquarter, Shivpuri. There are more than twenty villages around Banskhedi inhabitated by Saharia and other backward community. All villages can be grouped in a cluster. Illiteracy, Ignorance, Poverty, Unemployment, malnutrition among women and children are some of the most common conspicuous feature of all these villages.
Unavailability of Medical services was one of the most sought after concern of this area for over long time. Due to poverty, illiteracy and ignorance coupled with non-availability of PHC or Anganwadi Center, common treatable diseases become chronic even leading to untimely deaths. Children under five are highly vulnerable lot. People are unaware of hygienic and sanitary needs of infants. Nutritional requirement of children and newborn babies remain ignored. Due to lack of transport facility of any kind poor people find themselves helpless when the patients become critical.
Pregnant women are often found to be unaware of their proper immunization, vaccination and nutritional requirement and become anemic. Childbirth is facilitated by untrained village Dai under unhygienic condition resulting in to increased MMR(Maternal Mortality Rate) and CMR(Child Mortality rate). Due to ignorance and poverty, infants do not get proper nutritional feeds and are found to be suffering from Marasmus and Kwashiorkor. This further makes them susceptible to common diseases and people mostly depend on village ojha (Faith healer) for the treatment instead of Doctor, who charge fees unaffordable to them. Stone mine workers often faces injuries and bruises during the work, which often remain unattended due to poverty and lack of health services, and become septic.
Having seen the multiple dimension of health related problems Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Shivpuri) determined to help people by establishing a health center at Banskhedi. The hospital is located adjacent to our training center called "Maharshi Dayanand Shilp Vidyalaya". This clinic is running successfully with experienced Doctor, nurses and necessary equipments.