In the area of community engagement, Essar companies and the Essar Foundation undertake a slew of initiatives aimed at ushering in holistic development to neighboring rural areas. Promoting sustainable livelihoods, education, and investment in essential infrastructure are some of the pillars of the Group's community outreach.
In the Group's effort to bring economic stability and self-sufficiency to India's rural areas, it has, through the Foundation, aimed at nurturing unskilled women, and urban and rural youth through entrepreneurial and skills training. One such initiative was a financial literacy workshop for workers living around Essar Power's operations in Mahan in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh, India) that highlighted the merits of depositing surplus money in financial institutions. In another effort, in May 2012, 20 brick-making machines were committed by the Essar Foundation to the district administration of Malkangiri (Odisha, India). These machines and relevant training will serve to create a cadre of nearly 200 trained youth in the art of brick-making in the rural area, thus making them self-employed and self-sustaining.
Women's empowerment initiatives aim to raise the self-esteem and sense of security among rural women, through activities that encourage beneficiaries to access government services in the area of education, self-sustaining businesses and health. Some of the other activities include International Women's Day celebrations at Essar sites, entrepreneurial training at the Essar Skill Centre, and support of women's self-help groups around Essar facilities in Odisha (about 20 functional SHGs have been established in the four villages around the periphery of Essar facilities), most of them offer saving and credit services through banks.
Education is another thrust area that has received significant investment by the Group. In addition to building students' skills, the Foundation seeks to promote among students a sense of responsibility and respect for peers, mentors and the immediate environment. The Foundation is working towards modernizing teaching methods in rural schools.
A major initiative launched recently is the Supplementary Education Support Program in West Bengal. Eighteen primary schools and four high schools have been brought under the program that is designed to integrate the gradual cognitive development of a child from primary to secondary to higher secondary school with emphasis on English and Mathematics. All through June 2012, the Foundation organized training programs to facilitate the training of teachers on new technology tools and alternative teaching methods.
Besides ongoing interventions in enhancing learning, the Group also arranges for the distribution of teaching and learning materials, and school uniforms, provides school buses, and extends support to annual sports events for children studying in local schools from peripheral villages.
In the area of rural infrastructure, the Essar Foundation works closely with the government and other elected representatives to provide basic amenities in areas near its operations. Some of these include the building of water tanks, provision of sanitation and drainage facilities, provision of safe drinking water (about 45 villages in about six states and about 35,000 villagers have benefited) and rural electrification. The Essar Foundation has also instituted a program that supports the construction of household and community toilets, working in conjunction with the government's Total Sanitation Campaign wherever possible, to further the effort of creating a hygienic and healthy environment.
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