The Evolution from Volunteers to an Organized Group

We at TCT firmly believe that volunteerism is a powerful tool to catalyze development in India. Looking back at TCT’s history we can authoritatively state that the backbone of our work has been our volunteers.

Our model is simple: When you enter the community with any “service”, ensure that it is a priority for the community, not your priority. Ensure that the community provides you with a volunteer who can do grassroots work with you.

TCT has established a convention of utilizing village women volunteers to serve the community effectively. They are trained after the community selects them. They start with an assigned activity to meet a program purpose and as they get involved with the people, they become agents of change. Many of them continue as volunteers doing different kinds of development work, while a few continue with their initial activity. Their enrichment and empowerment and their contributions are visible. They were a proud to be part of the change. They became opinion leaders. They formed local action committees, gathered the women and youth for education, engaged them in discussion on a variety of issues – roads, street lights, cleaning of wells, immunization for children and mothers.

They work with the local Government officials like the nurses, Balwadi (day care centres) teachers, village officers, representatives to ensure delivery of service. They also partake in many training courses offered by the Government and other organizations. They are visible action silent heroines, well recognized in their community. Over the years, this loosely structured group of trained women formed the foundation for the newly launched, community based organization, Annam.

Annam: Our New Community Based Organization

As we redesigned our approach, we took stock of the many human resources we have created in the community in the last thirty years, and decided to leverage our strength with them. We created a unique integrated nodal delivery point for our action with volunteers. After a series of discussions with the community and staff, this manifested in the evolution of the new community- based organization called the Annam.

In every village, the composition of Annam is an average of 15 members drawn from TCT trained Volunteers, Health Committee Members, Disability Self Help Group and Federation Members, in addition to a few interested beneficiaries of TCT programs, Panchayat representatives, local Government functionaries and Village informal opinion leaders. New Family Care Women volunteers selected by the community actively coordinate the activities of the Annam and provide local support in implementing the programs in many villages, The initial progress of the Annam in the organization of their local meetings and the community participation in the programs is indeed very encouraging. To facilitate their participation and involvement, we attend these meetings and provide training.

In villages with more than 100 families, we organize these Annam Community Based Organizations. We have formed 120 such groups. In other villages with fewer families, the Family Care Volunteers (one each for 50 families) provide service supported by village elders and beneficiaries.