Santi Seva: Expanding Access to Education, Livelihood and Health Services among TG Communities in Bhadrak, Odisha
The “Capacity Building of Santi Seva Support Group for Male-to-Female Transgender Communities in Bhadrak, Orissa” Project, initiated in January 2008 with support from SAATHII and Fellowship, aims to improve the overall well being of Hijras, Maichiyas, and other male-to-female transgendered populations. The project also strives to reduce their vulnerability to HIV by strengthening the capacity of Santi Seva, one of the first and few community based organizations (CBOs) for transgender populations in Odisha.
Six Sub-Goals of Santi Seva:
- Organizational development of Santi Seva support group for Hijras, Maichiyas and other TG populations in Bhadrak district
- Provision of emotional support and friendly guidance to the members of Santi Seva and other individuals served by the group
- Provision of adult (non-formal) education support to individuals served by Santi Seva, including expansion of existing non-formal education program
- Running livelihood programs, including expansion of Santi Seva’s existing income generation program
- Improving access of the populations served by Santi Seva to general health and STI/HIV/AIDS services
- Provision of social security measures to reduce stigma and discrimination faced by the populations served by Santi Seva
Socio-economic status of core group members has improved significantly
since the initiation of the project. A midline survey was conducted in
2010 to evaluate the overall activities of the project and a significant
change was observed when compared to the baseline survey conducted before
the commencement of the project. Among the core group members, improved
living standards, represented through livelihood and income generation
options, education, health, and social security, were present.
As of July 2012, Santi Seva has 57 active core group members, which is more than one fourth of the estimated male to female transgender population (200) in Bhadrak district.
Regular trainings are organized to strengthen Santi Seva’s members’ and staff’s knowledge on gender, sex, and sexuality; sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR); basics regarding the National AIDS Control Programme-III (NACP-III), basics of counseling, self-help group formation and livelihood options, general health and sanitation, organizational development, and process documentation. Members are also sent to state level and national level training workshops and consultations, which has helped them to expand their network and learning on the basis of sharing.
Santi Seva members also participate in exposure visits to other organizations that deal with similar issues, in order to help Santi Seva to learn and to strengthen as a CBO. Additionally, Santi Seva and SAATHII together provide moral and legal support to Hijras, Maichiyas, and other male-to-female transgendered populations. Santi Seva’s members also have close ties to the male to female transgender community in the district.
Santi Seva also formed a cultural troupe in 2011 that has performed plays on male to female transgender and sexual health related issues in many areas in Bhadrak, Odisha. Currently, Santi Seva has a self-help group, consisting of 12 members, who are saving money towards starting a collective income generation effort.
Since 2008, Santi Seva has been a member of key state and national level sexual minority networks including “Sampark”, an advocacy coalition of sexual minorities and PLHIV communities in Odisha, and the “Integrated Network for Sexual Minorities” (INFOSEM), a national collective of sexual minorities. This has helped Santi Seva members take part in several training and advocacy activities on a regular basis, where they have been able to articulate their group agenda to wider audiences.
In Jajpur, another informal Hijra group was identified who expressed their concern for further growth from Santi Seva’s learning. It is expected that this group, “Santi Sena,” will also be supported by SAATHII and Fellowship.
Santi Seva is associated with two other SAATHII projects. Since April 2012, Santi Seva has been associated with Project Pehchan. Through Project Pehchan, Santi Seva will be able to address the health related needs and psychosocial support needs of male to female transgender people, MSM and Hijras in Bhadrak district. Santi Seva is also associated with AMANA.
Santi Seva Development Project receives financial support from American Jewish World Service.