By Tanya Joshi
Freshmen’s Valley, a brand that has just recently hit the markets of dairy industry, has been following the concept of giving back and sharing since the time of its commencement. We believe that organizations that are able to get recognition for the softer sides of their business are on the right path to building a sustainable business for the future. Whenever we set up a business and operate within a particular geography, we become a part of that society and that ecosystem and thus CSR has always been an opportunity for us to engage with the community and bring out welfare measures in the best possible ways. Freshmen’s Valley CSR initiatives “Kaushal Vikas Abhiyan” is an integral part of the business model we operate on. We are committed to holistic development of the communities we serve.
Our CSR Objectives are:
To bring about sustainable improvement in living standards of rural communities in which the company operates and empowering the people to lead a dignified life.
To work towards environmental conservation and protection of natural resources.
To ensure organizational culture of growth and development, good health and safety CSR Activities.
1. Development of rural communities
Establishment of IT skill development center
‘Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’- Nelson Mandela. With this strong belief, Freshmen’s Valley launched its first skill development center – ‘Computer Saksharta Kendra’ (Computer Literacy Center) on April 25, 2016 at village Chandan Kati, district Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh. The center is equipped with all modern IT infrastructures; 24-hours power supply, well-trained staff, study materials and a library. It is being imparted free of cost to all the villagers. The center aims to provide basic computer literacy to the members of the farming community in the nearby areas. Government certificates will be issued to successful students according to their proficiency levels.
Computer education will strengthen employment prospects of the trained students. The first batch of 30 girls and women is successfully completed! The center manager happily shares her views- “Just after the inauguration, people came in large numbers to get enrolled. We started with our first batch especially for females. The girls were excited, highly motivated and sincere. They came every day on time. Surprisingly some girls forcefully brought their mother’s too. Proper notes were maintained and they were always ready for surprise tests! The students wish to learn as much as they can, not only about computer but also about general knowledge, news and events prevalent in our society and basic English & vocabulary.
Reference books in library are a great help. They are looking forward for various other skill development activities as well.” A group of girls enquired me-“Mam ab to humari classes khatam ho gai hain. Par kya hum aur bhi padhne aa sakte hain?? Hum roz aana chahte hain. This gave me a feeling of contentment to know that this much needed initiative will definitely reach its set goals.
International Women’s Day Celebration
‘You educate a man, you educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation.’ An educated woman can impart education to the entire community, thereby contributing to the progress of the society. Freshmen’s Valley celebrated International Women’s day on March 08, 2016 at Freshmen’s Valley plant which included both entertainment and education events. Around 500 women and girls of all the villages were part of the event.
The main objective of the event was to engage the women in recreational activities and develop a strong sentiment towards female education as a powerful means of overcoming gender boundaries It included a satirical movie screening which depicted rural life beautifully and conveyed motivational stories with messages to overcome challenges in life. There was a short interactive session with the audience which focused on importance of education for all especially girl education, staying healthy, rising against exploitation/violence, know their rights and being empowered overall. The event concluded by fun filled and prize winning contests and refreshments for all.
Interactive session on women empowerment
‘There is no tool for development more effective than empowerment of women’- Kofi Annan. In today’s world where women are perfectly balancing their personal and professional lives, there are still many corners in the country where women are not aware about the flourishing opportunities available for their better living.
To spread the message of empowerment, Freshmen’s Valley organized a session called- “Kaise badhayain rozgar va aaya, kyunki mahila sashaktikaran ka yehi upaye” on January 16, 2016 at Hironi village of district Sambhal. It witnessed the presence of around 300-350 females The event aimed at making women socially, mentally and financially strong and independent by educating them about various income generating opportunities and significant steps needed to procure the best from these opportunities. It focused on another important aspect about the methods and precautions to deliver safe and hygienic milk. The discussion included knowledge about cattle care and milking methods which can open many more avenues of profit making for them. It concluded by filling feedback form to know their opinions and suggestions.
Feedback revealed the keen interest of women in activities such as computer training, sewing, stitching & embroidery, candle making, soft toy making and so on. A local women joyfully shared-“ Didi ye hume bahut acha laga. Kya hum sach me itna sab kar sakti hain? Hum bahut kuch seekhna chahti hain sabse jyada computer padhai, silaai-kadhaii aur beauty parlour ka course.” The session left the women satisfied, positive and motivated to take new steps towards leading more empowered lives.
Female Health Education on National Nutrition Week
Freshmen’s Valley celebrated National Nutrition Week (September 1-7) with the Aganwadi and ASHA health workers of Bahjoi. A workshop was organized on “Management of Malnutrition and Menstruation in females” on September 2nd, 2016. It witnessed the presence of around 150 health workers.
The objective of this workshop was to educate and sensitize the women towards their health and well-being and promote women empowerment by giving women the control of their health. The first part of the session focused on malnutrition causes, factors, signs & symptoms and treatment of diseases associated with it, role of nutrition in every phase of women’s life cycle and balanced diet. Many low cost and home-made food items/recipe ideas especially for children were also shared. Undernutrition and Over nutrition topics were explained in detail and focused on food and health requirements from infancy to old age. Presentations, posters and charts were used as tools of education.
The second part of the session focused to raise awareness and sensitization of menstrual hygiene management in females. Understanding of growth and reproductive cycle in females took center stage in a bid to spread awareness about the ill-assumed topic of menstruation. Information about the causes, factors and process of menstruation was provided and taboos and facts associated with it were explained for future ease.
The role of a healthy diet and importance of practicing hygiene and sanitation during menstruation was emphasized. Demonstrations were done on new and latest technologies and methods to get relief during menstrual cycle like tampons, menstrual cups, compostable sanitary napkins etc. along with some suggested home remedies for treating pain, irregular cycle and other problems. The attendees shared that they had never experienced any such useful meeting ever in their past.
Oral Healthcare Camps
Oral hygiene is related greatly to overall hygiene. It is not just about clean teeth and fresh breath, but is related to general health in more ways than one. Even those living at remotest of places deserve access to proper healthcare as it contributes towards a healthy individual and a healthy nation. With this belief, Freshmen’s Valley stepped into the area of oral health care by organizing oral health camps in Bahjoi area. These camps are conducted with the support of Kothiwal Dental College and Research Center, Moradabad.
The objective of these camps is to provide dental treatment, oral health education and awareness on dental hygiene care. The camp includes free dental screening, treatment along with free distribution of medicines and utilities like mouthwash and toothpaste. Special counselling sessions are conducted by the doctors to spread awareness about the best practices to follow for dental care, proper brushing techniques, benefit of mouthwash, mouth exercises and care of gums. Effect of food, harmful effects of smoking/chewing tobacco on dental health are also explained. Through these camps, villagers are given a platform to reach out to this reputed dental hospital and get specialized dental checkups and treatments at free/subsidized rates.
Skill development and Employment program to brighten Diwali
“A skilled person is more productive than a dozen unskilled one.” With this thought, Freshmen’s Valley organized its first skill development and income generation activity with the students of IT center at Bahjoi. A 10 days long diya decoration activity was organized under the guidance of a trainer. It started on October 15th and ended on October 24th and involved 25 young boys and girls of the villageChandankati mauja. The first two days involved training classes for painting and decorating the diyas.
After the training, students were given a target to complete their task within the time duration. Four-five hours classes were conducted daily for 10 days. The output was around 5000 beautifully decorated diyas. All the raw materials like diyas of various shapes and designs, paints, paint brushes, decorative items etc were given free of cost to the students. Cash price along with bonus was given to every student as a token of gift for their hard work and dedication. The students showed huge interest, joy, enthusiasm and effort in their work.
They joyfully shared their learning experience, “Mam humne aaj tak koi painting nhi kari. Par apne sikhaya aur ye sab diye hum bana paye, yakeen hi nhi ho raha! Humne ye art hamesha ke liye seekh li hai aur ab hum agle saal se khud bana kar market me bechenge.” This was the first time in their life span that they earned money as income for their hard work so the excitement among the children was huge. The activity was a huge success and left the children with a memory which they will cherish forever.
SAHAYAK Training Programs
‘The discovery of agriculture was the first big step towards a civilized life’- Arthur Keith. The farmer feeds the hunger need of every individual but is devoid of the actual credit. To enhance the farming experience and bridge the gap between farmers and dairy processing units, Freshmen’s Valley established the Sahayak concept for its important stakeholders- the farmers. This program is one of a kind platform to empower the farmers with new and correct farming techniques, remove milk adulteration and other dairy challenges, create income generation sources, financial assistance and many other benefits which enable them to become self-sustainable.
First training program
The first training commenced with a two day conference on May 22 and 23, 2015 at Anandpur, block Bahjoi, district Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh with an objective to upskill the farmers with latest technological innovations, agricultural processes and corporate benefits. The discussion highlighted the importance and role of Sahayak who is an important connector between farmer and the company. The farmers and Sahayaks were guided about the various corporate benefits to optimize their overall operational cost.
These include quick and easy cash flow, innovative farming techniques, health & nutrition counselling services for farming communities and cattles, loan facilities, maintaining relationships with banks/insurance companies and other sources of income. The training program was attended by more than 100 Sahayaks and farmers associated with the company
Second training program
The second training commenced with a two day seminar on August 8 and 9, 2015 with an objective to educate the farmers about safe, easy, reliable and transparent payment processes and assist in banking/financial activities such as bank loans, fodder loans, crop insurance and medical claims.
The discussion focused on the challenges faced by farmers in their day-to-day farming activities such as feed shortage, involvement of middlemen, milk adulteration and unavailability of funds, with their effective and best possible solutions. It also aimed to benefit the farmers with the introduction of Rural Business Hub (RBH) concept. Through this process Freshmen’s Valley will develop Rural E-commerce setup for villagers to reach directly to the manufacturers.
Third Training program
The third training program was organized on November 8, 2015 at village Sambhal, Moradabad. The objective was to introduce a different style of leadership in dairy farming– empower the Sahayaks, make them self-sufficient and aware about the latest techniques, safe payment process and smooth operational processes. Sahayaks were informed about milk adulteration process and effective ways to eradicate this serious problem. To check adulteration and milk quality a special SNF test is introduced. Sahayaks were informed about the transportation process and GPS system in milk delivery vans.
This will help in maintaining high quality milk chechk up. GPS will alert every time the door is opened, thus avoiding adulteration during transportation. Demonstration of special machines was done which will check milk quality. The machine will further test the quality of milk in seven other parameters to eradicate all the quality issues.
2. Cattle Welfare
We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Cattle, one of our holiest animal breeds, provide us with a lot more than we thank them for. They can’t express their discomfort and their illness becomes evident only when the symptoms appear, which makes it all the more important to take proper care of cattle. Recognizing this essential need for cattle healthcare, Freshmen’s Valley stepped into the area of cattle health care by organizing free veterinary camps in villages of Sambhal and Aligarh district.
These camps provide free of cost treatment and medicines for both farmers and the cattle. The medicines included dewormers, mineral mixtures, energy, calcium, vitamin and amino acid Ayurvedic supplements, parasitic insect killers, skin creams etc. to increase the milk quality and quantity. The camps are held under Clean Milk Production Program with an objective to ensure proper hygiene and treatment facilities. Awareness sessions are held for the villagers wherein doctors suggest the best prevention, care and diet practices for cattle.
Special trainings are also conducted by the procurement and quality teams to highlight the ways to improve and increase milk quantity and quality and check and prevent adulteration. Question answer sessions are also conducted between the farmers and doctors regarding general handling of cattle and specific diseases like chest and udder swelling, fractures, loss of appetite, infertility, repeat breeding issues, insects and worms, skin infections and so on.
These camps are conducted in association with the Chief Veterinary Officer of Livestock board and his team members.
3. Environmental conservation
Go Green Initiative
‘Green Revolution is the best solution to arrest pollution.’ As a first step towards going green, Freshmen’s Valley introduced Go Green initiative. The initiative is to contribute towards a better environment and society with a future oriented approach. The company believes that every small ‘green’ step taken today can prevent the waste of natural resources.
The objective of the initiative is to increase the awareness and use of eco-friendly practices, conservation of natural resources, maintaining natural ecological balance in the environment, preserving the planet and its natural systems and resources. The activity was conducted in August 2015. The management and team of the company actively participated and planted more than 500 trees around its factory surroundings.
Freshmen’s Valley uses non-conventional energy sources such as solar power or bio gas. These are important for maintaining ecological balance as they are non-polluting and produce efficient electricity. The company has also introduced the use of renewable sources in villages by installation of solar lights which will enhance business productivity and overall economic activity of these areas At Freshmen’s Valley Corporate Social Responsibility is not merely a compliance, it is a commitment to undertake initiatives that are designed for the benefit of customers and the dairy farming communities.
(Tanya Joshi, Team Leader- CSR Initiatives at Freshmen’s Valley.)
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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.